Monday, April 16, 2012

You Never Hear The One That Gets You‏

When I listened to the aircheck of Wayne Moss from August 16, 1976 (, I heard a complete and total professional at work. Of course, it didn't sound like work at all, which is the key to this whole Radio business.

The Wayne who was caught on tape that day was the same Wayne you would have heard any other day: a regular guy who just happened to be a star--with a fifty-thousand-watt limousine to ride around in. Wayne didn't have to give any conscious thought to what he was doing. His hands knew the location of every button and switch; he could have found 'em blindfolded. His mouth knew exactly where that microphone was and his ears told him how close to it he should be. Part of his brain was (and probably still is) on autopilot concerning the sequence of call letters, title and artist, time and temp, station promotion and the hundred other little details that we call Formatics.

If you have to think about these things, you sound like a robot. If they're second nature to you, you can concentrate on having fun. And according to the Pat Walsh Book of Radio Secrets (a remarkably thin book because there are so few secrets), "Fun is contagious. People hear you having fun and they want to have some, too."

So here's Wayne Moss, preserved in audio amber as he sits at the controls and lets it roll with that consummate ease of his. (Cue the theme from Jaws.) But little did he suspect that his days were numbered. That he was going to be replaced. That I would soon see him cleaning out his office to make way for somebody who--in my opinion--couldn't carry his headphones.

It was about this time that I had returned to KAAY after a four-year absence, thankful that Wayne had a gig for me. I was also a bit nervous that Lin Broadcasting had just sold KAAY to some outfit called Multimedia. I had been through my first station sale by then and had seen some real nastiness as a result. But maybe this one would be different. Silly boy!

One bright spot in the approaching Fall of 1976 was the fact that we finally were going to get in the new building! This joke ("wait 'til we get in the new building") had been going around 1425 West Seventh Street for so many years that it had long since ceased to be a joke and had become a myth of Biblical proportions. It's not unkind to say that the building on West Seventh was a dump. And it's not much of an exaggeration to say it had gotten so overcrowded that you had to go outside to change your mind.

The new building had become our Promised Land. Tape recorder bit the dust in the production room? Wait 'til we get in the new building. Leaky roof in the front hall? Wait 'til we get in the new building. Flat tire on the Funmobile? Wait 'til we get in the new building. One day, Tricia in traffic was whining that her butt had gotten too big. Right on cue, four of us told her: wait 'til we get in the new building!

So, yeah, that new building was the biggest of big deals to us. Trouble was, neither Wayne Moss nor Pat Walsh would get there with us. Serious miscarriage of Cosmic Justice and Harbinger of Decline. More about those aspects soon, but now it's time to let Dave Montgomery take up the story of The New Building.

David B. Treadway
Doc Holiday VII
The Last PD

1 comment:

  1. When I left Arkansas for the Texas-Mexico Border in 1975, KAAY was still doing more-or-less what it had been doing since the early 60s. Some of the air staff had changed over the years but the basic direction of KAAY was unchanged.

    It seems to me that KAAY's historic success resulted from several important factors. First, KAAY was run as a profitable, money-making operation. Second, the KAAY management & programming staff paid attention to what was on the air. Mistakes were few and corrected quickly, resulting in a consistent air product. Surprisingly, both of these factors are uncommon at a lot of radio stations. KAAY was a "must buy" for advertisers and agencies who wanted to reach listeners outside the immediate Little Rock area.

    By the time that I returned as Chief Engineer in 1982, Multimedia had run KAAY completely off the rails. Aside from Eddie Graham, who soon left for KLRA, the sales staff was transient and advertising wasn't a high priority. Multimedia corporate politics was the priority instead. Neither KAAY nor KLPQ were noticeable factors in the Little Rock market.

    David is very diplomatic in his description of Multimedia. Coyote Kincaid (Ray Taylor) called it MurphyMedia and accurately described its decision-making process as "pretzel logic." To me, KAAY was yet another example of the old adage that there is no right way to do the wrong thing.

    In fairness, we should note that Multimedia did something with KAAY that Lin Broadcasting did (and probably could) not. Multimedia took the only 50,000 watt radio station in the entire State, along with a full power FM, located in that State's Capital and only major media market and still manage not to make any money. I'm not sure that many companies could claim that, or that they would want to.

    I would love to hear David's story of how and when he came to understand Multimedia.