"Online since 1999"
Bob, what can I say??......or , where should I start? My conscious mind has been in high gear (communicating with my dusty, rusty, 66 year-old memory banks) since I inadvertently discovered the "works of your heart and soul" on the Net!
Before I proceed with some of my thoughts and cherished memories and proud association with WTIX and the uniqueness (as you have so aptly pointed out) of the New Orleans radio market, it's worth pointing out how the vastness of the internet enhances the old saying, "Its a small world." We have a local-area community forum that I sometimes post on....an interesting venue for debating with others on many subjects of interest. In one of my replies to a topic, I noted that I had lived in Chalmette in the '60's. That resulted in an inquiry from another poster who had lived in Chalmette until 1969. The poster asked for some info about me....and I replied with the mention of WTIX and a few of the DJ's that the poster probably would have been familiar with in that time period. I noted that I was one of those DJ's. Seems another forum member did some Google searches, came up with your web site and posted it in a forum reply. So! Here I am. Communicating with the Oldies King....via e-mail...from a small town, Bay City, Texas... in this small world.
For the record, I began my tenure with WTIX in January of 1962. FYI (because I don't believe I ever discussed it with you when you came to TIX a few years later) My "informal" road to that position sharply contrasts your beginnings with a college campus station and/or formal educational preparation! My formal training was in Radio and Television electronics resulting in getting that FCC First Class Radio-Telephone Operators License. As you know, an important item, even for DJ's, BEFORE the disastrous radio/tv deregulation process began. In fact, using the DJ's (and that FCC Ist Class license that was required) to log meter readings and "operate the transmitter controls" may have been the beginning infant in the deregulation process that was to come!
Its amazing how government regulators decided to redefine what a licensee's service to the community meant....ending up today with virtually nothing that resembles any kind of bond or connection to the heart and soul and lives of the communities they purport to 'serve'! While we can blast the huge corporate entities....the real blame for todays screwed up mess lies with the Feds, and the FCC! Oh boy, sorry I let that "thorn in my memories" sidetrack me....back to the good ole days!
Skip Wilkerson and Bob Robin were friends that I had worked with at KALB in Alexandria, Louisiana....where, at 20, I was probably the youngest Chief engineer in the history of that 'old' station (or any other station) and Skip Wilkerson was probably one of the youngest Program directors, at the age of 19. So, I was working in radio in the electronic 'nuts and bolts' arena in 1959....but with friends like Skip, Bob, and a few others...I wanted to be one of them! . To make a long story short....I would record make-believe shows on a system kept at the transmitter site that was used for remote broadcasts....and Skip Wilkerson and the other DJ's would critique them for me. So, you might say that, in my case, a make-believe fantasy came true.
Skip and Bob moved on to New Orleans (Skip to WNOE and Bob to TIX.) and I managed to get my first on-air job in Lafayette, La. with a new station that had just been built. That on-air job was no more than an engineering 'transmitter' watch....where, from midnight to six...once an hour....I would press a button to switch program control to the transmitter and do a five-minute newscast....and switch it back to the studio for the automated (yes, the beginnings of the automation snowball began about 1960) all-night-show! Wasn't there long.
I moved over to another station about 20 miles down the road for nearly two years....on-air! Back to the TIX connection. Skip Wilkerson was at WNOE. He requested an air check because NOE was looking for a midnight to six DJ. Jim Stewart was the program director. I did interview....but wasn't hired. Think they hired someone (the name I can't recall) but he frequently refered to himself as "The Blue Beard"? (BOB WALKER NOTE: That was "Johnny Silver" who also called himself "Long John Silver" aka "The Blue Beard)
Skip brought my air check over to WTIX.....the Gods' of my 'fantasy' was with me....and I was hired! What a ride in store for this young greenhorn, country bumpkin kid from the boonies!
The on air line-up in that year was Ron Martin, Bill Baker, David Nebel, Ed Ripley, Bob Robin, Gene Philips and me. Remained fairly stable for some time. It wasn't too long before Ron Martin was generous enough to move me to the Nine PM to Midnight slot (BOB WALKER NOTE: the slot in which Ted did "Beatle-Rama" circa 1964)....from there I was moved to the Six PM to 9 PM gig...(eventually the show periods were four hours each) where I stayed until about 1966 or 67 when I decided to accept an offer of the Chief Engineer position with TIX as my primary job. I did continue to do some week-end on air work until I was asked to go to WQAM, Miami. This was to be a temporary move until the efforts to resolve the attempted unionization of QAM. Management wanted me to stay when the union mess ended....and made me an offer I couldn't refuse. I also continued on-air on weekends and an occassional 'vacation' fill-in at QAM.
In all....I worked for Storz Broadcasting Company for fifteen and a half years. I couldn't end this rambling, and maybe boring, dialogue without giving proper credit to the one individual that was a broadcast and programming pioneer of his time in the radio business. That credit and profound historical respect goes to Todd Storz. A man who was told to NOT get into the radio business, when he was contemplating buying his first station in Omaha, Nebraska. He was told that TELEVISION was going to destroy radio. He didn't see it that way! Todd Storz and another like-minded pioneer in radio, Gordon McClendon (working in parallel....never competed with each other....what a battle that would have been) conceived (by observing that, unlike what one would hear on radio stations of the day...people would drop in their coins and play a FEW SONGS over and over) what evolved into the Top Forty format! Over the years Todd gave his growing number of radio stations what you noted is missing today! He had a burning passion for the business. Simply put, He LOVED what he was doing....he loved radio. Todd Storz gave New Orleans WTIX....The success and rightness of what he wanted in radio seems to be reflected in all our memories. Both the listeners and former DJ's....that were TIX TIGERS.
Todd passed away suddenly not long after I came to WTIX. He was only 38! I can only imagine how high we might have soared had he not been taken from us.
The company was taken over by Todd's father. Definitely not of the same mold as his son. The father had more of that Corporate nature you have so aptly described, Bob. I think that WQAM program director Jim Dunlap appropriately described the reason for the continued success of WTIX and the Storz stations for the years after Todd's death. In a conversation we had he said, "The reality is the stations continue to thrive by the efforts and beliefs of many of us that were in the Todd Storz arena or have, by fate, fit into his mold....IN SPITE OF the mentality of our "Home Office" idiots!
On the Hooper Rating sheet for the 6pm - 9pm slot for Feb. - March....1965:
That's a 33 share for WTIX, and a 22 share for WNOE. The highest numbers I ever hit on the ratings was a 52 share! Everyone almost had a heart attack....Haaaaa.....haaaaa.
George Maharis was in the 1963 TIX Appreciation nite....line-up of talent....his one and only hit record "Teach Me Tonight" (I believe) was on the charts.....AND he was the star of his TV show...(same as the name of his Hit record...."Route 66" I believe.?
I also remember a 17 year old kid.....I believe it was the '63 TIX appreciation Nite show. To this day, every time I see him on the TV.....I get that memorable image flashback in my minds eye of that somewhat 'chubby' 17 year old kid dragging his guitar case around. No entourage....no handlers running around to pamper and coddle. Just this nice, somewhat shy, meticulosly well mannered 17 year old kid with a hit record. He probably never imagined, at that time, the professional and business success that was to follow. His name: Wayne Newton!
Otto Goessl was and is a great guy and the consumate radio advertising salesman. Loved what he did....and those who came into contact with him knew it too!
I have no idea how many are still alive. I do know that Skip Wilkerson is deceased, as is Ron Martin...Oscar Talbot....and the young guy that worked some part-time on-air at TIX, Blake Blevins.....at 17, he had a fully mature voice....could have had a great career in radio (he was very young when he passed away). Haven't a clue as to the where-a-bouts of David Nebel (BOB WALKER NOTE: Pensacola), Bill Baker, Ed Riply, Robert Echols (aka....Bob Robin) (Slidell) or Gene Phillips (deceased). The krewe that was there when I started.
I've got to remember a man who some had issues with, but a man who always treated me with respect and professionalism and someone who I would have done anything for....Fred Berthelson. When I was asked to go to Miami....Fred met with me and offered some advice: (1) You are doing the company a BIG favor....its taking you away from your home and work family....you will come to realize that you are paying a price...SO,
[a] Don't pay for anything while you are there, not even your laundry/drycleaning....SIGN THE TAB!
[b] I've made sure that you have good hotel/motel accommodations.....do not agree to let them move you to another hotel/motel....just tell them if they do that, you'll return to New Orleans. The advice was good. I did need to draw from it as time went on....and Fred would call and check to see if I was OK! Came down to Miami on one occassion and we had some time together for relaxing and chatting.
Biggest mistake I made in this whole scenario was when Phil Trammel and GWA asked me what it would take to STAY in Miami permanently. The salary I asked for didn't even raise an eyebrow....and I found out later that I may well have been able to DOUBLE...or at the least haggle down somewhat from the double-amount. Stupid me....the lesson served me well in later ventures!
That takes care of the "entrance" into the 'black hole'. Now, the journey through the black hole.
I had been with Storz for 15 and a1/2 years.....FM radio was beginning siphon away rating numbers....and it was obvious that Storz was not going to acquire any FM proberties. I got wind of something in the works that proved to be true....that none of Todd Storz's kids was interested in the business (the main reason that the company was continued after Todd passed away, as I understood it)....and that a decision had been reached to begin marketing the stations for sale!
I had been active in the Lindsey-Hopkins Vocational Broadcast Center....Dade County Schools, serving on the Industry Advisory Committee....and teaching a class. In one of those classes was an "older" woman....who had, with her husband (an officer with a major bank in Miami) bought a radio station in Sebring, Fla. about a year or two earlier. She apparently got something out of the class. In short, I was offered the General Manager's position....ended up taking the job.....sales and programming improved over time (albeit, sales improvements were incremental but slower than I had hoped)....and was there for almost two years....'76....'77. Got involved in the Community Theatre here.....You can tell CC Courtney that I got a standing ovation during the discourse of my character (E. J. Longren) in our presentation of "Harvey"! on-stage. Damn.....maybe I missed my calling!!
OOPS! Got concrete documentation that the station was listed for sale. Owners denied my "concerns" ..... and I decided it was time to 'get out of Dodge'.....er.....Sebring!
I had responded to two GM ads in Broadcasting magazine. (1) In Charleston, South Carolina. Solid, successful, old-line company. Was not meant to be! Got an interview (their coins) (found out a graduate from the Broadcast Center in Miami was working there....and championing my cause). Scheduled air flight time that would/should have given me a good six/eight hours buffer from arrival time to interview time. Flew out of Orlando> Connecting flights problems that began with a four hour fogged-in holdover in Tampa, Fla. resulted in being two hours late for the interview. Began the interview with a 15 min. disertation from the President of the company on his displeasure of my tardiness. Not a good way to begin an interview. He didn't give a damn what caused me to be late. Period! I'd had enough of this arrogance! Guess what? I didn't get the job! I found out that the person they did hire was fired three months later. Do you reckon God was looking out for me?
The second offering was with Tillis Communications. YUP! Mmmel Tttttillis! GM position in Amarillo, Texas. By the time they got....or I got my response to their ad to them they had decided to retain the stations' resident GM from the previous company. A good, knowledgable GM who had had some major experience in TV and Radio....including a stint with Double-Day's broadcast operations.
I was asked if I would consider the Corporate Engineer's position....and be based in Amarillo. I would.....and I did! Good times, again. The AM station was very successful.....Tillis acquired an Amarillo FM outlet....had applications on file for construction permits for other stations around the country.....and one for a TV station CP (all with competing applicants, of course). The Tillis organization was very good to me. Shoot, in an appearance on the Tonight Show....Mel even mentioned my name when he was talking about his venture into broadcasting......heeee....heee, did you know that the country heard that Tillis had one of the best engineers in the country????....must be true, Mel Tillis said it, on the Tonight Show!! Must say that I was frequently included in the loop when input and decisions were being made. Sometime at the consternation of the GM.....who couldn't understand why they wanted my input since the subject matter may well have been on programming, sales, promotion matters.....and the like? I traveled quite a bit....looking at properties they were considering purchasing.....and submiting my reports and recommentations....and/or concerns on technical matters.
Yep! I did get integrated into on-air work! Quite an experience to do a country music show. I gloated when the GM said, "You must have been a hell-of-a-rock-jock"! Look at it now.....the good contemporary Country stations sound close to a rock station to me??
MOVE TWO and a Half: ???
Tillis's business manager, and corporate "broadcast guru" Shelly Davis (some people hated him, I loved him).....left Tillis to manage the Top Dog country station in Houston....KIKK.....owned by Viacom. Tillis had purchased an AM in Mobile, Ala. against my better judgement....and I had begun evolving into a relationship with a brilliant Consulting Engineer of great repute, Fred Zellner. We ended up forming a company....Green/Zellner, Inc. and did a lot of consulting work. CP applications, CP's for upgrades, even obtained CP and built a UHF TV station (PBS) down in the valley for the Catholic Archdiocese.
I call this TWO and a half.....because we had worked a deal to continue to take care of Tillis' technical needs in exchange for less salary to me AND office/utilities/telephone acommodations in the radio station building and an agreement that would allow us to do consulting work for anyone else in the area. So, in a way....I was still with the Tillis organization.
To finish this one portion of the journey as short as possible.....the Mobile, Alabama station was an expensive thorn for Tillis.......He lost interest in the business......sold the Amarillo stations to the GM (actually to his wife....the GM was a British, not a US citizen....later haunted the operation when his wife divorced him).....and did not manage to sell the Mobile station until years later (I believe he had 'leased out' the facility...but retained the station as the licensee) for a mere $25,000!! My engineering partner (with the Phd., Dr. Zellner....was heavily committed to the University of Houston...teaching, and other official duties....the last year we had the company, I was out of town for seven months out of twelve. It began to take its toll on me...and my family. When I met with my son's third grade teacher about problems he was having......and she said, "When he walks into the class room in the morning....I can tell that you have left town on another job"!!!....that was enough ! Met with my partner....we agreed to close the company down.....and that was that!
Managed a Mobile home park in Amarillo for a while......moved to Lakeland, Fla. to acommodate my wife's need to be near Miami......they were embattled in the settlement of her fathers' estate, who had passed away. The eventual settlement was not worth the effort! Moved to San Antonio, TX (my wife's brother was there)....couldn't get a job in radio. Believe it or not....the OVER QUALIFIED stigma haunted me and the statements were even made to me! To this day, I don't understand that. I needed a job, I could have done the job, but....I was over qualified! Stupid, as I see it! Ended up working in a Circle-K convenience store....obviously not over-qualified for that job! (BOB WALKER NOTE: Teddy-Go-Round, WTIX Super DJ ... working at Circle K ????)
MOVE THREE: 1989.
Do not remember how I was contacted by the station in Jacksonville, TX......At any rate....the station was a premium operation...AM/FM....owned for 30 years by the owner...built it from nothing....tremendous billing and cash flow many large metro area stations would envy! The owner knew Fred Zellner, my old business partner......and he was told by a Cap. Cities engineer that if I was good enough for Fred to associate his name with he should have no concerns about hiring me. I interviewed...got the job....and was there a little over a year. Uncovered a serious problem that evolved when the previous engineer had moved the AM transmitter to the old (unused) FM tower without final notice/CP FCC authorization. Working with his Broadcast Atty's over many weeks/months, saved the license for his AM station that he didn't even know was in trouble, and...I guess, gained his respect. Otherwise, working in this beautiful, pristine looking physical facility (ABC originated Paul Harvey from this station some years back....and on the air he described the station as, "one of beauty, the grandest of the grand"), was uneventful and somewhat boring....almost like being in a quiet "library" with the cleanliness of a hospital environment! Not a rock-n-roll operation. I'll attach a copy of his announcement to the staff that he issued when I was leaving the station. I'm proud of his "endorsement" of my time spent there. No I won't.....can't seem to find it now.....among other niceties....he emphatically stated that I had performed my duties and responsibilities better than ANY (his emphasis) employee in that position in the thirty-years that he had owned the company! I worked hard for him.
MOVE FOUR: 1990.
An Engineer in Tyler, TX. had given my name to a fairly new broadcast operation called Northstar Communications. They had bought an AM/FM operation in Palestine, TX....about 40 miles from Jacksonville [programming was Contemporary Country]....and was in trouble on the program test authority and timely filings with the FCC. The Engineer couldn't handle it for them....but said he thought I could. I did.....preparing the necessary filings and exhibits to get them over the hump and licensed.
They subsequently approached me with an offer to join their company to handle all their engineering interests.....including CP applications, another major FM upgrade to an undeveloped FM station licensed to El Campo....with studios to be located in Bay City....as well as an AM three-tower directional station that needed major attention (this, they found out AFTER I got here). The offer was almost double what I was making in Jacksonville.....and I jumped at it.
This company was good to me. I had much autonomy and responsibility....and I worked hard for them, wearing many hats. Over the course of the next six years, along with my engineering work (which had deminished in demands after the FM upgrade and improvements to the AM facility) I worked afternoon-drive on the FM, and became Program Operations manager. Note that these stations DID show up in the Houston ARB! Amazing!
OOPS! Damn! They sold all the stations out from under me! Again!
Traveled to Lexington, Kentucky to interview for an engineering job. That owner wanted to hire me sight-unseen! I insisted that he foot the bill for an interview....and I felt the interview was important for both involved because decisions are being made by two people in these matters (I agreed to split the costs with him). I traveled to Lexington for the interview. He was, I find out, in trouble with the FCC, as well as equipment manufacturers because he had modified his orders for certain products late in the game...affecting his delivery earliest dates (this was regarding a NEW station he was building in Virginia). I spent the bulk of the interview listening to him curse the FCC, equipment manufacturers, and his present engineer. Yet, he told me I was hired! Wanted to know how fast I could get back....pack up my family and belongings...and get back to Lexington.....and, oh yeah.....my wife would have to find a house and arrange to get the household goods and children (5) in place because we would fly out of town in his private plane to Virginia as soon as I got back in town!!!
I went outside and had a discussion with my wife. This guy didn't need a good engineer, he needed a good psychiatrist!! I went back inside and thanked him for agreeing upon our interview. It had been most helpful.....and that I would have to decline his offer of employment! He was not a happy camper....and complained that I had wasted his time and money. I paid my way back home!!!
I worked in a Radio Shack store for about a year....quit when a problem child necessitated some Home Schooling....and my wife had the higher paying job at that time. So, I be Da Teacher. I'm sure he had an easier time with the teachers in school...haa!
MOVE NUMBER FIVE: 1997....
Not really a move....the deal was in Bay City. During this period of proliferation of new FM radio stations....this shyster (in my opinion) put two new FM's on the air in Bay City. One of these stations had been bought by an elderly lady (encouraged by her business manager) as a source of retirement income! HA!
Several people from the previous Bay City radio station was working there........they needed help.....and hooked me and the old lady's business manager up! He knew my old business partner, Zellner, checked me out with him....came back and told me that Zellner told him that I had one major problem...."That I was just too damn honest"!! He hired me.
I wrestled with many problems at this station....problems that were multilpied when he originally had kept, or retained, the person who built the station and sold it to them....to continue to run it with little supervision. Talk about getting raped....his allocated operating funds fell into one of those "black holes"!
I wrestled with remaining serious ABC network, Texas State network problems.....numerous technical problems (the station was built using ALL used/worn-out equipment). After I was there about three months I called a "prayer-meeting" with the owners business manager and explained the facts of life to him. What he had actually bought, the kind of investment that remained to be expended....AND, most important....that to reap a profit in a small market station such as this required that it most appropriately should be run by a mom and pop operation....as the other stations in town was being done! I suggested putting them on the market for sale.
He was hesitant. But eventually came around. I have to say the station had a super on-air sound programming wise. It was called "Pure Country" (classic country)....and the Houston classic country stations had ceased to exist. Here, again, a little old Bay City radio station showed up in the Houston ARB with a one point share. In Houston you can market that.....but not from Bay City, Texas.
One sale to a fast-growing "satellite programming" conglomarate fell through when their investors pulled the rug out from under them......then, the people who bought the first station here that I had worked for, ended up buying this station too. Now, today, they are all owned by a large Hispanic CORPORATION (horrors) with no live bodies on sight...being fed Mexican music programming from God knows where.....different formats on each!
Bob....I'm on your side! Radio wasn't fun anymore...too many company/corporate issues to distract and frustrate. I RETIRED! Sixty-six years old now! Sittin and Spittin and Smoking in the front yard....cherishing my "good old days" memories of so many un-named people that touched my life in special ways. And, I'm so glad that you have taken the time to cherish and enshrine those memories with your "OFFICIAL" memories website. More of an accomplishment than you may realize!
Today: AARP don't get any of my money. Why should they?
Nine grown children(+)....Five boys and Four girls(+)
Married to my second wife (a Miami, Fla. acquisition...heee...haw. she loved taking care of my four kids from the previous marriage so much that I just couldn't deprive her of that pleasure, so I said "I DO" a second time and its been a wise decision for me since the move to Miami and our travels through the rough spots through this "black-hole" period) for 32 years. She's 17 years younger than I....has stuck with me through thick and thin....into my Senior Years....but I can still do serious battle in a pillow-fight.....if we ever have any, again....Haaaaaa....Haaaaa!
Well, thats about it...for what its worth. Never became President of the United States. Something I'm thankful for, I think!!
Please pass along my e-mail address to anyone from my past at TIX that may wish to get in contact. It appears that several are still around.
Memories and thoughts compiled from several emails
from Ted Green beginning in 2005: