Archive for April, 2009

“Rock ‘n Roll”

April 23, 2009

wwpeter-cavanaugh-fulton CHAPTER SEVENTY-TWO ROCK ‘N ROLL 1992 was the 100th Anniversary of my Great-Grandfather’s death. He had left Ireland during The Famine Years in 1848 and had crossed the North Atlantic to the green fields of America. He was buried under a fine Celtic Cross in a little churchyard just north of Syracuse. His name is engraved in sharp and bold lettering, still clearly distinct with a century gone: PETER   CAVANAUGH My namesake’s handwriting appears in an old, worn book on Irish History which was passed down to me by my Uncle Vince. It was all Peter left us in memory. Cavanaugh Diocese of Fern County of Leinster Town of Ballyoughter Irish Nobility Evicted By The English And Abandoned By God I had left broadcasting after thirty-six uninterrupted years. I knew where to go. Eileen and I drove to Detroit and caught a flight to Dublin. We rented a car and traveled the land without itinerary or agenda. There was no need. There were spirits everywhere. We were led. Peter is listed as the son of James and Margaret Cavanaugh, born in the summer of 1816 in Ballyoughter. The town has disappeared. It was located east of Enniscorthy, just south of Dublin in the Wicklow Mountains near the Irish Sea. Peter was baptized July 15th of that year, according to parish records now miraculously preserved on microfilm at the Library of Ireland in Dublin. The fancy spelling of the family name “Kavanagh” with a “C” and a superfluous “u” can be attributed to the transcribing priest, who wrote in a most graceful and elegant hand. Before and after his stewardship of some thirty years, the whole bunch were “Kavanaghs”. The priest had faithfully noted births, marriages and deaths in the small community during his whole time of tenure. It is a ledger covered with silent tears. There are five pages per year before “The Famine” and five years per page thereafter. Many in our family died of hunger. Peter made it to America. He was unmarried and in his early thirties. He found an Irish bride in the States. Their son John, my Grandfather, was born in 1854. It was John’s son, Donald, who died on the radio. Our direct Cavanaugh (Kavanagh) line is traced to the middle of the Twelfth Century and one Donal Kavanagh, who had become very disenchanted with his father, Dermod Mac Murrough, King of Leinster. Dermod was the Irish King who first “let in the English” to help extended his power and control over the entire island. He is described as: “No hero, but a large, lustful, blustering, hoarse-voiced man, whose name had an evil sound in the ears of the Irish. He was the bad son of a bad father, one who chose rather to be feared than loved”. In honor of his friend, King Henry II of England, Dermod thought he’d take an English wife. King MacMurrough wasn’t much for courtship. He kidnapped “Chelsea of the Willows”, a beautiful English noblewoman, and dragged her back to Ireland in chains. He married her and impregnation eventually followed. The lovely Chelsea wasn’t a withering willow. She introduced further disrepute into the family picture by poisoning Dermod and burning him alive on their First Wedding Anniversary. She torched him with a flaming log, revenge with phallic overtones.  She told King Henry she was sorry and built an Abbey for penance. She was royalty. She cut a good deal. Eileen and I walked the ruins of the Abbey at sunset. Only the crows cried welcome.

Donal was born after Dermod’s fiery demise. There was an image problem. Although the family name was later fully redeemed with great honor by Donal’s son Art MacMurrough/Kavanaugh several generations down the road, with a traitor for a father and murderess-mom, Donal felt major disassociation would be highly appropriate and refused to be called a “Mac Murrough”. He chose “Kavanagh” as a new surname in honor of his counselor and close friend “Cavan” (which curiously is historically spelled with a “C”), a prominent Irish priest and confessor. “Cavan” was eventually sainted by the Church. Discussing “DNA” genetics and what have you, it is striking to note that Dermod and Chelsea’s genes undoubtedly enjoyed constant and particular reinforcement in a most unique manner all the way through to “The Great Hunger” and Peter’s passage to America. Ballyoughter was less than five miles away from Fern, the ancient Irish capital from which Dermod and his fierce warriors ruled and plundered. Our particular tribal branch, as verified by those parish records in Dublin, thus never seriously strayed away from home for over seven hundred years between Dermod’s smoldering remains and Peter’s farewell to the groves of shillelagh and shamrock. Dermod and Chelsea have just kept on sharing each other, all forgiven. It’s never been otherwise. Dermod and Chelsea had arrived late in the true Irish sense of things. The village of Slane is forty-five miles northwest of Dublin. On its ancient castle grounds have played The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springstein, Bob Dylan and U-2. On the Hill of Slane, Saint Patrick proclaimed Ireland to be Christian in 433 A.D. by lighting a paschal fire. The burial chamber at Newgrange is on the banks of the River Boyne a few miles to the east. It is over five thousand years old. The Newgrange chamber is a huge, circular, man-made mound of white and black boulders, largely covered with earth and grass. It measures two-hundred and forty feet across and is forty-four feet high. An entrance overlooks a broad bend in the river. A narrow tunnel leads seventy feet down into the earth. Passage is slow. A central chamber contains three rooms, all openly facing into the center. Water has never penetrated into the surrounding rocks. Construction was by master architects. It was built for the ages. The spiral markings are everywhere. Their meaning is unclear. A small opening over the entrance is aligned so that the sun’s rays penetrate and illuminate the chamber with a fiery red glow only once each year at the exact point of the Winter Solstice. It is seen as a symbol of rebirth and renewal. The effect lasts less than twenty minutes. Newgrange was not erected as a tomb. It is a womb. It is two thousand years older than Stonehenge. IT IS PERSPECTIVE. Eileen and I spent some time in England and visited Stonehenge too. We went through the Tower of London and saw where Henry had his heads hacked and IRA men spent many long, last years. The British Museum was overwhelming. All the heroes were warriors and kings. There were spoils from many lands. We climbed to the top of Saint Paul’s Cathedral and spent hours at Westminister Abbey. We went to Toussaud’s “Rock Circus” on Pickadilly. All the rock stars are in wax. Eileen had her picture taken with Freddy Mercury. He’d been dead for months. There were “security alerts” on the London Underground all the time. We stayed at the Copthorne Tara in Kensington. We returned to Perrysburg in late October. There was no question as to my immediate intent. Ireland had shown the way. There was only one thing I would do for a year. Nothing. My oldest daughter Laurie and her wonderful husband Paul presented us with our first grandchild on December 20th. Her name is Katherine Noelle Thome. I wrote her a letter on her first Saint Patrick’s Day and told her all about Peter. All of the daughters were home for Christmas and Easter in Perrysburg. Over Labor Day Weekend, the whole family was assembled again in Syracuse, where we celebrated my mother Isabelle’s 90th Birthday. All my women were all home again for New Year’s Eve 1992 and wouldn’t let me watch Howard Stern. Other than the above, all I did for the entire year was perfect the art of effortless existence. It was lovely. I’m quite rested. I’m five thousand years younger than Newgrange. I still stay in touch with Sister Cecilia from the old Cathedral days. An indication of her lasting influence came during a 25th year High School Reunion in 1984. It was the first time the Class of ’59 had ever assembled since graduation. It had been then we boys were told to “never again darken the doors of the school” following a brief alcoholic misadventure. Sister Cecilia had driven herself to Syracuse for the event from the “Mother House” in Maryland. It was evident that the passage of time had changed her only in small ways. I was delighted to discover for the first time that her last name was Connolly. Such things had not been shared in earlier times. Also in attendance was Army Major Thomas Gibbons. Tom had entered the service and  qualified for special assignment. He had successfully completed officer training as a Green Beret. Tom had repeated several tours in Viet Nam and had volunteered for each and every one. He had flown helicopters as a combat pilot. He had commited his life to the military. I saw him coming in the front entrance and greeted him with a hug.  I excitedly told him Sister Cecilia was in the next room. Tom thought he could use a drink. After three double-scotches, Tom moved into the staging area and greeted Sister. She hugged him too. In Viet Nam, the closely encountered enemy had been clearly unfeared. Sister Cecilia was something else. Sister Cecilia had been most emphatic back in the Fifties that Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, the Platters, the Diamonds, the Del Vikings, Bo Diddley, Duane Eddy, Georgia Gibbs, Jody Reynolds, Ronnie Hawkins, Fats Domino and the the rest of those “bold, brazen things” were “Occasions of Sin”. She knew this to be true because Father Shannon told her so and he heard confession. Sister Cecilia Connolly had lived in the convent next to Cathedral school with other Sisters of Charity. They were only allowed to watch  Bishop Fulton J. Sheen on television.  Collective exposure to the newly emerging world of visual communication had been thus limited to thirty minutes each Tuesday night at eight. A brilliant woman, trusting with ferocious determination the tenets of her Church, Sister Cecilia saw nothing but dangerous rebellion in the new music of youth. I chose to believe in Rock ‘n Roll. On the surface, this indigenously American music seems all about a completely uncomplicated, essentially ageless desire to “feel good”. It’s a natural sort of thing. It’s like sex. Looking at it from a purely mechanical perspective, sex seems silly. It’s ecstasy by embarassment. What a contradiction. We fulfill the most important obligation demanded by Natural Order and are rewarded handsomely for following our instinctive inclinations. Only in unqualified surrender do we gain ultimate pleasure. Should we not yield,  future existence ends. So might the enjoyment of certain sounds emerging in particular patterns featuring specific combinations of varying frequencies at subjectively pleasant amplitude offer suspect satisfaction, but only to the physiologically uninitiated. Not if it’s in the blood! It has been my experience that Rock ‘n Roll Music and personal liberty are inseparable. Those who oppose one will invariably oppose both. I also find that many of us who would purport to cherish individual freedom actually find it a terrifying notion. Seen God lately? Feel that fright? Get what I mean? The majority of our species want others in charge. That’s not by chance. It’s in the program. Letting someone else do the important thinking is much more than intellectual torpor. Such abrogation is in the flesh, another manifestation of inherent genetic predisposition. It is a critical legacy. Upon it, human survival depends. We can’t all lead.  Most must follow. Too many directions bring confusion and anarchy. Or regicide and separation. Or foreign domination. And famine. We all must both lead and follow with measured balance within respective spirals. We individually learn our destined path. None is better or worse. But only that which is truly yours is best. There are some destined to utter grace. They are the ones who listen to the music. And hear. Some even play. They seek to give us faith. They would assure that we are not alone. The Beatles had it right. Life flows on within us. And without us. “Tomorrow Never Knows” Because? It never is? Perhaps there is no past or future. Consider there is only presence. Imagine we are masters of illusion. Pretend we are magic. Envision we are locked in eternal embrace. If everything is now? Then Kurt Vonnegut was correct. “All Music is Sacred”. The first draft of “Local DJ” was completed on June 6, 1994. The 50th Anniversary of D-Day. Brian McNeill sold WIOT/WCWA. He came out millions ahead. God love him. Frazier Reams picked up some cash on the deal as his family name disappeared from broadcasting after nearly sixty years. God love him too. And God love you. Thank you for letting me share my little stories. All of them are true. Trust yourself. Any time you choose. Be Rock ‘n Roll!!!!

“A Dead Beaver and Nigger Music”

April 23, 2009



WWCK AM/FM was sold in December of 1988 for 2.25 million dollars.

Nancy Dymond was transferred to Toledo when Bob Lafferty jumped the fence with four salespeople to become General Manager of WRQN.
Bob had seen the writing on the wall. It didn’t say “Stick Around, Sucker!”

Nancy brought Tammy Kinzer back from Boston as General Sales Manager. Tammy had left Reams to work in Chicago and then had moved out East.

Nancy and Tammy increased WIOT revenue thirty percent over the prior year.

WCWA’s conversion to “Oldies” was a smash. AM billings jumped forty percent.

Combined WIOT/WCWA radio revenue not only led the market in every category, but was a full twenty-five percent ahead of our closest competitor. In listenership, WIOT climbed to first-place and became the highest-rated AOR in the country. Reams Broadcasting had achieved such distinction now in both Flint and Toledo.

Jeff Lamb returned and just did “voices” while a gentleman named Mark Benson played disc-jockey on our WIOT morning show. The ratings rocketed.

Neil Kearney took “The Beaver” to the top for the first two years of Reams’ ownership. Monthy revenue went from $20,000 to $200,000 in eighteen months. The competition didn’t stand still. WUBE grabbed the audience back with millions of dollars in promotional expenditure. WBVE’s advertising budget had disappeared. All available cash was going to pay interest on the loans.

Frazier decided to sell Cincinnati. Joe Field of Entercom offered 5.8 million dollars for the property. We signed the agreement in October of ’89. We flew to Washington on March 12th of1990 to close the deal. Gary Stevens told us we were “catching the last stagecoach out of Dodge”. Radio station prices were crashing everywhere. Mr. Field pulled-out at the last minute. I sensed he was practiced at the act. Neil Kearney had already accepted a new position in Fort Wayne and was leaving. I had a dead “Beaver” on my hands.

I would commute to Cincinnati every week for the next two years. It was certain that bankruptcy and foreclosure were just around the bend. I wanted to go out with a scream.



In a radical move which was approved on high only due to pressing circumstance, I drove to Cincinnati without warning on the morning after Christmas ’90 with a number of Toledo-produced “IDs”, “Promos”, “Comedy Inserts” and a CD library containing nothing but hard-core, screeching, screaming Rock ‘n Roll.

At High Noon, I commandered the studios without prior notice to the audience (all pretty much 35+ “Country” fans) and went straight from Buck Owens into six solid hours of an ancient and mildly hypnotic rock classic from the late ’50’s “They’re Coming To Take Me Away ” was repeated over and over again, backwards and forwards, on a tape loop. We ran some vaguely detectable audio in the background closely approximating snarls and growls of suggested evil incarnate as might be aurally experienced in a Steven King nightmare on acid. We generally offered the impression that the station had been taken over by alien invaders who had seized the building with questionable intent. A deep, mysterious, tortured voice could be faintly heard beneath the din warning, “Don’t call the police!”.

The WBVE parking lot was quickly surrounded by squad cars. After discussing the matter with the sergeants, I willingly agreed to add a broadcast disclaimer every fifteen minutes.

“Ladies and Gentlemen!”

“Nothing is wrong with your radios!! “

“There is absolutely no cause for concern, panic, terror or alarm!!!.”



After six hours, we went directly into new call-letters “WZRZ-Z-ROCK!!!” and played four solid days of pure Led Zeppelin.


WEBN’s proud mascot was “The Frog.” Every half-hour, we would execute “The Frog” by blowing him up, mixing him in a blender, dropping him in a grinder, drowning him in the Ohio, garroting him with a piano wire, pulling-out his eyes with tiny fish hooks, sawing him into painful pieces or crushing his little frog nuts in a vise. It was all done with sound effects. Our production team creatively outdid themselves with wildly imaginative, savagely diabolical terminations.

There was a “WBVE listener comment line” which was recording observations on our Led Zeppelin music from former “Beaver Fans”. More than half the calls profanely condemned our playing “all that nigger music”. I hadn’t heard such expression in relationship to rock since my earliest days at WNDR. We played many of the calls on-the-air between Zeppelin cuts.

After four days of getting the Led out, we linked with satellite. From that point forward, WZRZ blasted nothing but “Flame-Throwing”, “Ass-Kicking”, “Name-Taking” Rock music. It was exclusively and narrowly aimed at a young male audience. On the proverbial scale of one to ten, if WIOT was a “4”, “Z-Rock” was an “87”. “Z-Rock” was programmed by Satellite Music Network in Dallas, Texas. It was a creation of Lee Abrams.

On the first day of change, we had wound up with front page headlines in both Cincinnati newspapers and extended television coverage of the format shift. There were a number of concerned meetings. Phone banks had been jammed. People had panicked. It all had been very disorderly. Riots could have broken-out. Farmers might have run through their fields. Mice might have been trampled.

The general consensus from the authorities was that I had broken no local, state or federal laws during the exercise. Still, I had taken things to the edge of the envelope. They were still getting calls. I was a naughty Peter, even if nothing had really happened with which they could prove the point.

I met with the authorities. I agreed to let them know ahead of time if “similar things” were ever in the offing. They were delighted with my promised accomodation and particularly happy with the brand new “Z-ROCK” T-Shirts each and every officer received. It displayed the picture of a shark eating a frog.

Within weeks, “Z-Rock” owned Cincinnati in Men (18-34), even beating WEBN in total audience by the end of two months. I have the March/April ’91 Birch Radio Report for Cincinnati in front of me even now. It says:


That’s an historic fact!!

Tammy Kinzer had joined me from Toledo and was appointed Vice-President and General Manager of WZRZ. She turned the ratings into instant revenue.

My fondest “Z-Rock” memory is from the night of May 21st, 1992.

A young gentleman of whom I happily approved was marrying my beautiful daughter Colleen in Cincinnati on the 23rd. A group of his friends decided to give him a “Bachelor Party”. Since he and I were and remain on excellent terms, he asked that I be invited to come along. Although I would suspect deeply disenchanted at the thought of having to drag “Colleen’s Old Man around”, the group was kind enough to ask me to join them. I surely did so.

We met in an elegant Lobby Bar at The Omni Netherland in Cincinnati, where Eileen and I were staying. It was 8 p.m. I promptly ordered up “Kick-Starts” for the celebrants. “Kick-Starts” are a triple-shot of Jameson’s and a beer to wash it down.

We were soon all the very best of ageless friends.

I then gently suggested that I was certainly not attempting to plan out the evening for everyone. But, we could cross the Ohio River into Kentucky where “the radio station was doing a promotion” if there was any interest. I only slightly hinted of what might wait ahead. Since all were in an adventurous mood by then and open to anything, we crossed over.

WZRZ was broadcasting from a gigantic barge floating on the Ohio and anchored to a docking area directly across the river from downtown Cincinnati. The night of the 21st saw over four thousand gathered outdoors on the deck. They were crowded in tumultous assembly. It was “Z-ROCK BARGE NIGHT!!!” Live music was generously being provided at supersonic levels by a major Swedish rock band named “Shotgun Messiah”. Most importantly, I had scheduled the “official judging” that evening of over one hundred bikini-clad, amazingly-configured, nubile young maidens. These were contestants vying for the enviable and much desired distinction of being chosen “Miss “Z-Rock” Babe”. The contest seemed analytically, if not politically, correct.
I took the microphone at an appropriate point in time. I annointed and appointed all my fellow Bachelor Party attendees as “Our Official “Z-Rock” Judging Panel”. I further explained that they would be spending their next several hours fulfilling this critical assignment and that all contestants would be expected to offer complete cooperation and accomodation to the judges in their difficult, laborious efforts to arrive at a winner.

It was then that my soon-to-be Son-In-Law and his mates began to enjoy themselves beyond restraint, although certainly maintaining marginal propriety. They weren’t bothering with the beer anymore, taking whiskey by the tumbler. We collectively entered into the very best of extraordinary times.

It all took place under a full, bright, May moon. Temperatures remained soothingly warm well past Midnight. The majestic skyline of downtown Cincinnati soared in the background, its lights reflecting eerily across the dark, rushing waters of the mighty Ohio.

Much later, I arranged for transportation back across the river to the Omni. I obtained extra rooms. A dozen or so exhausted young warriors found restful sleep; many on carpeting, across chairs and in various tubs. I woke them all and hosted breakfast in the early morning, suggesting the excellent virtues to be found in narrating the prior evening’s events with substantial deletion for wives, girlfriends, or fiancees. It was a thought with which everyone enthusiastically agreed.

So it was I walked my radiant Colleen down the aisle the following day and gave her away with particular paternal pride.

WZRZ had two months to live.

Reams Broadcasting had entered “Chapter Eleven” in July of ’91. Frazier had hung-on as long as he could. Some thought much longer than he should.

He surrendered in January of 1992.

Brian McNeill would take things over.

Burr Egan Deleage would receive ninety percent of Reams Broadcasting and would cover monies still owed to Rhode Island Hospital Trust. Everything would close as soon as the agreement was approved in Federal Bankruptcy Court and by the Federal Communications Commission.

Brian and I met the following week in Cincinnati.

Understandings were reached. I would remain with Reams Broadcasting only through ownership transition. Frazier and John Reams would also exit at that time. I would broker the sale of WZRZ-FM for a handsome commission. Nancy Dymond would stay with Brian as Vice-President and General Manager of WIOT/WCWA. We shook hands. Brian’s Irish word was good as gold.

My last day at Reams was September 17th, 1992.

‘El Sucko Central”

April 23, 2009



Frazier and I spent most of January visiting banks. He confided that he was astounded raising the money for our new ventures had proven such a challenge. He was dead-serious. I suggested Nashville dreams might have to wait. We were looking for twelve and a half million dollars and the clock was ticking on our time-pressing, mind-distressing Jacor note. Best to cut bait?
We’d wait.

Frazier had defaulted on the Nashville purchase agreement and another buyer appeared. They offered 8.2 million. They would bring back Jerry House and eventually own the market. $500,000 was now owed by Reams on the “Certificate of Deposit”.

Obtaining funding may have been much easier had we not just seemed to have pissed-away a half-million on absolutely nothing. That’s the sort of thing that catches notice and causes pause, bringing worry.

Although their moment was yet to come, Beavis and Butt-Head went banking.

Ummmmmmmm. We’d like to borrow eight million dollars?”

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.  It’s for this radio station?”

“Errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.  “Ass—-ets?  Heh-heh-heh-heh-heh-heh-heh-heh.”

Frazier’s son John was involved in Broadcast Lending with Aetna Insurance. He would shortly join Reams Broadcasting as Vice-President of Finance after Aetna closed this division due to heavy losses. There was no lack of work. Grover Lewis had voluntarily retired from the company due to pressures caused by a new corporate policy requiring lack of shirk.

Certainly, Aetna Insurance was not a cash candidate. The company frowned on flushing funds down even the most respectable rat-hole and John took his responsibilities seriously. Besides, it would never fly.

“Reams, what’s that borrower’s last name?”

We had turned-down five-and-a-quarter million dollars for our Flint holdings shortly after signing the Cincinnati/Nashville contracts five months earlier. John had told Frazier he suspected Flint to be worth a minimum of six million dollars. It was golden music to FR2’s ears. The tune had turned to tin.

General Motors had announced a series of massive lay-offs in Flint and Michael Moore was in the streets filming “Roger and Me”. Unemployment in Genesee County had reached twenty percent. WWCK’s ratings were really getting hammered by WCRZ-FM and WIOG-FM. Former listenership was about to be cut-in-half. Flint had become El Sucko Central.

In Toledo, WIOT had experienced a troubled time with the release of an Arbitron showing a 6.7% total audience share at the same time Birch Ratings had tracked us at a 15.3% position. Something was wrong. I reviewed all the initial data and called Arbitron. Their younger male sampling had been woefully inadequate in the Metro area. I demanded they recall the book.
They told me I wasn’t a subscriber and, “if I wanted to sue them, I could get in line”.

I charged to the front of the pack and instituted litigation charging Arbitron with “Racketeering” under Federal “RICO” statutes. In the Arbitron Ratings under question, it just happened that every Arbitron subscriber in Toledo had gone up and every non-subscriber had dropped down. Call it fate. When the facts are on your side, truth is never an issue.

The next Arbitron measurement had WIOT back in double digits. It was where we belonged. We dropped our suit. The 6.7% had hurt us, nevertheless. Agency “cost-per-point” computers are blind in their precision.

Although John couldn’t open the doors to the Aetna vault and drive our get-away van, he knew some people in the business. He expected Janet Tanner might be of help.

There was no doubt that Janet knew her way around the barn. She exuded authority and radiated confidence. Jan had excellent credentials and gave great hope. She lived on Beacon Hill in Boston. That should have been a clue.

She threw together an exceptional prospectus and passed it around like dope at a Grateful Dead concert. The mirrors came from Lotus. She put together a six million dollar loan with Rhode Island Hospital Trust and still had two million left to go.

Brian McNeill was a fine, young Irishman with Burr Egan Deleage in Boston. They were a venture capital firm. He was glad to kick in the last couple of bucks. What’s two million between friends? He was incredibly warm, graciously understanding and charmingly attentive. Interest was only twenty-five percent a year. Frazier only had to pay just ten percent if he wanted. The other fifteen would simply be added to the principle amount. It was as easy as falling-off a cliff. I almost asked Brian for a few million myself, then remembered he was Irish.

The deal was transacted only hours before Jacor would have seized all of Frazier’s assets. We were on our way.

Janet Tanner picked-up her check too. $250,000 every few months keeps a girl healthy, wealthy and on the Hill.

I kept things going through the end.

“Dining at The Westin”

April 23, 2009



Frazier had arranged for Certificates of Deposit of $500,000 each for our purchases in Cincinnati and Nashville. These were like “non-loan-loans”.
If we didn’t go ahead with the deals, the bank would spring for a million dollars in forfeiture and Frazier would have to somehow make it good.

On the 23rd of December, we were driving to Cincinnati. We would close that morning on the purchase of WSKS, now WBVE. Simultaneously, the Republic/Jacor merger would be finalized in the same room. Timing was everything. It was all very exciting.

We were heading south on I-75 at eighty miles-an-hour in Frazier’s BMW, radar detector engaged. We had just passed Dayton. Frazier spoke quite casually, as though discussing cows.

“Peter, there’s something we should think about.”


“I’ll do all the talking.”


“We don’t have the money yet.”

WHAT????? “WE don’t have the money yet.?” I sure as fuck didn’t have the money yet. I had about a hundred bucks on me and and a Visa card. With luck, I might be able to cover lunch, if I shorted the tip.

I suddenly flashed that classic “Lone Ranger” joke. The Lone Ranger and Tonto are surrounded by Indians. The Lone Ranger says, “This could be the end, my friend.” Tonto replies; “Friend?”

It was no time to panic. It never is.

The closing was scheduled for 10 a.m. in an elegant, oak-walled Conference Room on the 23rd floor of the Central Bank Building. The carpeting was several inches deep. The view of Cincinnati’s downtown skyline was spectacular. The windows were quite sturdy and thick. I checked. A merciful jump was out of the question.

There were over thirty participants in attendance, mostly attorneys with individual hourly rates easily twice the contents of my wallet. Closing documents were everywhere. There was heavy, rich, energized tension in the air. The transactions about to be executed involved more than forty million dollars in properties. Excruciating care had been exercised in fitting every last piece into proper order. There would be no mistakes. It would be perfect. This was big-time boogie!

Frazier had decided to wait until the meeting started to drop his goodie. He had a playful spirit and loved surprises.

The shrieking silence defies description. For the only time in my life, I actually believe I heard hearts stop. No one said a word. One could not even detect breath being taken. Frazier’s eyes roamed around the table with a patient stare of perplexed wonder, as though something was curiously wrong with everybody else. The Treasurer of Republic finally loudly gasped and stood, moaning with chagrin and despair.

“Frazier, you told me yesterday you had the money!!”

“Well. I thought I did!”

Frazier had raised his deep, baritone voice ever so slightly on the word “did!“. It seemed to shake the room. Within the somber, suddenly darkened atmosphere which prevailed, Frazier had effectively just told the Treasurer guy he could go fuck himself. Jesus.


As things were, Frazier had everyone by the balls.

Nothing could proceed until the WBVE issue was resolved. There was no turning-back. Everything had been filed with the FCC. It had taken three months to get approval. Damn! With forty million bucks hanging in the air, any prolonged delay could cost a fortune. Shit! Jacor would be better off funding Frazier’s purchase themselves. It was really the only sensible option. Fuck!

This all took about five hours. Frazier’s only seriously expressed concern was where we would have dinner that night.

They told him how it would have to be.

No problem.

They’d lend him the money for one hundred and twenty days at fifteen percent interest.

That sounded fair.

He would have to sign with both corporate and personal guarantees and everything he owned anywhere as collateral.

Who’s got a pen?

He would have to pay for all additional legal expenses at horrendous overtime rates sure to be incurred in preparing new drafts on a billion- trillion documents over the Holiday Season because everything needed to be finished before the end of the year for major tax reasons which Frazier certainly had known about and thanks-a-lot-you’ve-fucked-up-everybody’s-Christmas-you-asshole.


It was DONE!

I detected a barely discernible sigh of relief. I knew Frazier had finally found peaceful resolution in his mind. It would be shared. He leaned over and whispered in my ear. We would be dining that evening at the Westin overlooking Fountain Square.

I called Neil Kearney at the WLW Sales Offices of WBVE and asked him to join us. Neil had already been in place for four weeks preparing for our transition. WLW’s General Manager had told him it was rumored that Frazier had shown up “without any cash”. Neil had spent the day wondering if there were any late-night bartending positions open back at “The Light” in Flint. I told him everything had been arranged. For the moment.

If Cincinnati had barely made it, where were we with Nashville?

“Easy Money”

April 23, 2009



A pause for perspective seems in order.

Financial speculation in the ’80’s has since become notorious, a first-wave of specious speculation which would eventually lead to the economic challenges of 2009. There were “Barbarians at The Gate” in many industries. Radio was no exception. Wild money was floating all about. Station prices were being driven upward by astounding ratios. Gary Stevens, former disc-jockey, became a wealthy man in brokering radio properties. In retrospect, he later was to say that “the replicate key on Lotus” brought many to their ruin. It was a profound and knowledgeable observation.

Valuations were being determined by multiples on projected cash flow, often extended five years into the future. Lotus software would allow an enthusiastic and optimistic buyer to justify inflated purchase prices with ease and convenience. Coming up short on a balance? Just amp up income expectations for your first year of budget and hit the “replicate key”. It would jump revenue numbers straight through to the finish line. You could even program an automatic annual percentage increase for your market in overall anticipated radio revenue for extra juice. It took mere seconds. Sha-zaaaaam. It was fast magic!

Traditionally, radio station prices had been based on a general formula of one and a-half to two times past annual gross revenue or three to four times trailing cash flow. Since many stations operated with a fifty percent annual profit margin, this seemed reasonable. On the other hand, there were no guarantees that competitive or economic conditions would ever remain stable. Even looking at currently impressive performance figures, a clear element of risk was always involved. The most highly-rated stations could see downward swings of twenty or thirty percent in anticipated monthly revenue depending on conditions. Significant drops in listenership could witness a facility declining in revenue forty to fifty percent over a single year’s time. Of course, it could go the other way too. That was the gamble. Understanding the inherent volatility of radio was critical and crucial in determining a measure of worth.  In the eager ’80’s, this factor came to be often ignored.

The loan mechanics didn’t need to worry about failure. Getting the “deal done” was their only interest. The eventual fate of a financed project was completely irrelevant. Why worry? Their cut came up front! Let’s hear it for those replicate keys!! There came to be more bankers than record companies hanging out at radio conventions. It was easy money.

By “traditional” standards, WSKS-FM in Cincinnati was worth somewhere between 1.5 and 1.75 million dollars. WSIX AM/FM in Nashville would come in around 2.75 to 3.50 million.

The combined value of Reams properties would ring the register at 6.0, primarily driven by WIOT and WWCK success. There was still a million dollar note outstanding from past borrowing and Frazier’s buy-out of his former partner’s interest. There was also shared ownership with certain family members in a significant percentage of corporate stock which had been left in trust by Frazier’s father. It was complicated.

The “new rules” made things grand.

Had Frazier rolled Flint, Muskegon and Toledo into a single package in 1986, he could have sold Reams Broadcasting for an easy fifteen million dollars. A little luck and a hot broker might have pushed it up to twenty. It was right there on the table. His other option was to leave the money where it lay and roll the dice. Get your bets down, folks!  Double or nothing!!  Frazier decided to let it ride. You only go around once.

We flew down to Cincinnati on Tuesday, September 23rd, 1986.

WSKS-FM was an anomaly. Her sister station was the powerful 50,000 watt WLW-AM. It was the home of the Cincinnati Reds. The combination represented a rare instance wherein the AM partner was out billing its FM counterpart by at least eight to one. By the middle ’80’s,  it was normally the other way around. Both facilities were operated by Republic Broadcasting. They were about to merge with Cincinnati-based Jacor Corporation. Jacor already owned WEBN-FM in Cincinnati, which meant that Republic had to blow-off their FM to make the deal work. The Federal Communications Commission only allowed a single entity to own one AM and one FM in any given market. Back then.

My original idea had been to rock WSKS-FM and smash it up against WEBN. WEBN was the #1  Album Rock station in Cincinnati. I was certain we could bring them to their knees. That was now out of the question. Frank Wood was the President of Jacor.

Frank had traded WEBN-FM for a significant share of Jacor stock and the corporate position. His father had founded and sold him the radio station. Frank had earned a Law Degree from Harvard University. He had not been disadvantaged. Still, there was little doubt he was a distinguished figure by his own efforts. Circumstances had merely offered acceleration. It was made clear in final discussions that WSKS-FM would be available to Reams only if we agreed to take it Country. The last thing Frank needed was a bunch of assholes from Toledo trying to fuck his pride and joy. Frazier agreed to the condition.

I met with Randy Michaels, who worked with Republic and would become Programming Vice-President of Jacor following the merger. He would much later be named President following Frank’s departure and corporate reorganization necessitated by financial discomfort. Randy’s life was radio. Personal and professional existence was one and the same, with no distinction made between the two. Randy would never understand such a concept of separation. We were quite the same in many ways. He remains extraordinarily talented and is now Chief Executive Officer of the Tribune Company. But in 1986, he was the architect of “The Beaver”.

WSKS-FM disappeared and there it was.

WBVE-FM. “The Beaver”.

Randy recruited virtually an entirely new staff in less than a week. He brought them out for a night of carousing at every Country bar in Cincinnati to capture life-style focus. He rented a local recording studio and brought in a band. The jingles were real shit-kickin’ jams.

Weeeeeeyyyyyyllllll. It’s finally on the ray-dee-ooooh.  Real Country Music. Beaver Ninety-Six-and-a-Haaaaaaaaayyyyyffffff.”

They were inspiring.

Although Reams would not assume control until near the end of the year, Randy wanted to give us a running start. The fact that WSKS had been programming a form of “MTV Rock” was also part of the equation. It wouldn’t hurt WEBN to make that go away immediately. The future was taking shape. Randy also had balls.

As part of our final talks, once the Country issue had been presented as a required prelude to purchase, I suggested to Frazier that we throw-in a condition of our own. Republic had to guarantee an Arbitron performance in the Fall ’86 Cincinnati ratings no lower than WSKS’s then-current level of a 3.8% share. With a completely radical format change being undertaken even as the survey started, this would be a formidable task. Anything less would result in a lowering of the purchase price by as much as a half-million dollars. Randy didn’t flinch and the deal was cut. He was to hit that number right on the nose.

Republic had arranged a little cocktail party for us to meet the staff and introduce ourselves. As expected, better sales players on the FM side had already made the switch to “The Big One”. The rest of the crew was putting in time with two small sales offices at WLW set aside for “the little one”. We would be moving to our own offices and heavily recruiting come acquisition.

From Cincinnati, Frazier and I flew straight down to Nashville.

WSIX AM/FM had been owned by General Electric and sold to another group for whom price inflation would be savior. Operationally, they had pretty much fucked-it-up trying to save their way to prosperity.  Both stations were Country, with most sales action on the FM. WSM AM/FM was the other Nashville Country combo. They were kickin’-butt.

We had a meeting with the Nashville staff and I was impressed with the potentials I saw. Spending several days in the market, the only name I kept hearing was “Jerry House”. Jerry had been at WSIX-FM and had switched to WSM-FM when he couldn’t get a raise. He was now in Los Angleles at KRLA-FM. Word was that he’d love to return back home, but would be expensive.
I obtained some tapes and listened. He’d be worth every cent. He was one of the best I’d ever heard.

WSIX AM/FM was being managed by Cecil Thomas. Cecil’s family had happened to own some rural real estate when an expressway came through. Most of the old family homestead was now a figure-eight interchange covered with franchise outlets. Cecil was worth millions and didn’t have to work. He just happened to love radio and was hoping new ownership would “keep their heads out of their asses” and let him do the job. He’d done it before. He knew Country well and Nashville even better. I told him to not pack any bags and promised I’d keep my head sunny-side up.

Everything was starting to assume a profound surrealistic quality.

Frazier and I discussed immediate priorities. We would sell Muskegon since it had never been a profit center and I wanted Neil Kearney to manage “The Beaver”. The best we might do was $500,000 or so, but corporate “negative flow” would stop. We would also test the waters on a price for Flint. With new parameters of competition already impacting,  it seemed a perfect time. We would also drop “Big Band” on WCWA and move to a “’50’s Oldies” format which would generate audience more compatible with WIOT’s listenership for sales purposes. We never discussed financing of our new properties. I would not presume to intrude on such matters. As far as I knew, Frazier might have more money than Leona Helmsley and Donald Trump combined, pardon the thought.

Not quite.


April 23, 2009
ABC Rock Affiliates Board 1984

ABC Rock Affiliates Board 1984



Ron Shannon, Neil Kearney, Bob Lafferty and I attended the 1984 National Association of Broadcasters Radio Conference in Los Angeles in September. It was brutally hot. Following four days of meetings, Ron returned to Flint and I traveled south to attend another five days of sessions with the ABC Affiliates Group at the brand new Ritz Carlton complex in Laguna Nigel. It didn’t suck. Eileen flew-out to join me.

Neil and Bob had returned home early the prior morning following a late-night decision to keep drinking and catch the red-eye flight heading back East. They hadn’t wanted to wake-up in the morning with a hangover and have to pack their suitcases then. It was one of those Irish ideas which makes terrific sense at the time. The pilot asked Neil to stop smoking marijuana somewhere over Nebraska. He rang me at dawn. I thought he was in the next room and suggested we have breakfast. He said he’d love to, but was at Detroit Metro with Bob. Lafferty was spinning around on the baggage carousel and wouldn’t get off.

The ABC Radio Laguna Nigel gathering took place before accountants grabbed the networks. The accommodations were the finest I had ever enjoyed. No expense was spared in assuring pleasant times for all. We were the very first occupants of the new structure and were treated like royalty by the hotel staff. They all wore neat little uniforms and kept coming up and asking if they could “refresh our drinks”. In Flint I had been used to hearing “Whachurs?” demanded at the T-Bird. It was all very nice.

Ed McLaughlin was a fine Irishman and President of the ABC Radio Networks. I played bongos in the hotel bar with him ’til 5:00 a.m. one morning. Ed was to leave ABC after Capitol Cities took over and “retire”. He “retired” to create his own satellite network and took a run at Paul Harvey. When that idea came to naught, he found a talk-show host in Sacramento he felt worthy of “putting up on the bird”. His discovery had been fired from a number of stations for lack of talent, but Ed could spot a good thing when he heard it and trusted his instincts. Rush Limbaugh didn’t disappoint him.

Saturday morning was to be the final big session at the meetings. Each network affiliate group was to come up with a campaign against alcohol abuse and present their ideas at that time before all assembled. As Chairman of the Rock Affiliates, I would do the honors.

Friday night we met to discuss strategy. This was an important item. There were rumors in Washington about possible restrictions being placed on broadcast advertising for beer and wine. Such action could cost the radio industry millions of dollars. We had already been seriously screwed with cigarettes. It was time to display responsible recognition of alcohol’s dangerous potentials and direct meaningful professional attention to Congressional concerns. Anything less could see us nailed anew. It seemed artistic to suggest we all get really drunk and deal with the problem as close to it as we could get. I was a popular Chairman. We ended the evening with a tequila duel. After eleven rounds, I called it a draw. I held up a napkin marked “R.O.C.K.”. It was the name of our network and I loved acronyms.

The following morning, we received standing applause from all after I summarized the masterful outline for our “R.O.C.K.” (“Reckless Operators Can Kill!!”) Campaign. We realized heavy network play with our efforts and later received several industry awards. The positive press was sensational. Ed McLaughlin sent me a personal note of congratulations expressing his pleasure with our project. What made me the happiest was having not passed-out at the podium during my presentation. Although functionally sober, I was deservedly in utter agony before a highly influential audience of inestimable professional importance as a direct consequence of having once again yielded beyond restraint to undisciplined indulgence far past any reasonable norm. Then again, I had come up with “R.O.C.K.” only after the last tequila. Sometimes, it’s all very hard to understand.

The Cavanaugh family had moved to Perrysburg, Ohio. Perrysburg is just south of Toledo, across the Maumee River in Wood County. Our “little girls” were “little” no longer.

Laurie, the oldest, had left for college at Central Michigan University the year we moved to Ohio. Colleen would graduate from Perrysburg High School the following year and attend Bowling Green State University, just down the road. Candace would follow in 1988 and journey south to Miami of Ohio at Oxford before starting Law School at the University of Detroit in ’92. Our “baby” Susan would leave for Ohio University in Athens in the autumn of ’91.
All four daughters were to attend different schools within the same collegiate conference. I had always encouraged diversity within unity.

When Ronald Reagan made his successful bid for re-election in the fall of 1984, Perrysburg was the final destination on a whistle-stop train-tour through Ohio. It had been arranged to capture a nostalgic sense of traditional American political campaign history. There were Secret Service agents swarming all over our little town. This Irishman spoke only four blocks from my house. His last words were that Democrats always thought it was April 15th, but Republicans wanted every new day to be the Fourth of July. Right on cue, fireworks exploded in the distance and a band struck-up “Stars and Stripes Forever”. It was slick as hell. Paul W. Smith hosted his appearance.

Paul had worked with me at WCWA and was then doing a morning show on CKLW in Detroit. Paul W. Smith had once made approach for a salary increase with the greatest line heard by me before or since in the context of such a request. Paul had forlornly looked at me and said, “I want you to clearly understand that I’m not selfishly thinking about myself in this matter. What’s at stake here is the well-being of my future wives.” He got a laugh, but not the raise. He’s in Detroit now doing a talk-show mornings on “The Voice of the Great Lakes”–50,000 watt WJR.

Ron Shannon was leaving Flint. He had received an opportunity to become President of a broadcast group based in Little Rock, Arkansas. Gentleman that he was, he drove to Toledo to break the news to me directly in my office. Although sad he would be leaving Reams, I was terribly proud of him and knew that he had earned distinguished advancement. He had done an extraordinary job for us at WWCK and had lifted both ratings and revenue to new plateaus. We both agreed on a choice as Ron’s successor. Nancy Dymond would become Vice-President and General Manager of the stations and first female to ever occupy such a position in Flint radio. Nancy was once described by one of our more eloquent consultants as being “a curious combination of “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm” and “Ilsa, The Nazi-Queen She-Bitch.”” She was ecstatic over her promotion, but would shortly wonder why the hell she’d ever been so happy.

WWCK Program Director Mark Miller/Jazz Fusion Guitarist Stanley Jordan/Peter C.--NBC Radio Affiliates Group--Fort Lauderdale, Florida--1985--11 PM.

WWCK Program Director Mark Miller/Jazz Fusion Guitarist Stanley Jordan/Peter C.--NBC Radio Affiliates Group--Fort Lauderdale, Florida--1985--11 PM.

Peter C.--NBC Radio Affiliates Group--Fort Lauderdale, Florida--1985--3 AM. Chairman Peter Cavanaugh Exhibits Typical Leadership Skills With Animated Demonstration of Battery Operated "Wild Mechanical Hand."

Peter C.--NBC Radio Affiliates Group--Fort Lauderdale, Florida--1985--3 AM. Chairman Peter Cavanaugh Exhibits Typical Leadership Skills With Animated Demonstration of Battery Operated "Wild Mechanical Hand."

WGMZ-FM in Flint had changed format from “Beautiful Music” to “Adult Contemporary” just before Ron’s departure and were seriously threatening WWCK’s older listenership by offering a plethora of rock oldies in their music mix. WIOG-FM in Saginaw was about to change tower location and dramatically upgrade their signal into Flint. They were programming “Rock Top Forty” which would radically impact WWCK’s younger demographics. We would be seriously attacked on two separate fronts simultaneously by knowledgable operators with adundant promotional funding and every intention of wiping WWCK completely off-the-map.

Bitter competitive pressures were in the wind as our lovely Ms. Dymond took the helm of the “Good Ship 105”.

Early ’86 saw Lee Abrams visit Toledo in February and speak before a group of WIOT/WCWA clients who were assembled at a special “Advertising Clinic” presented by Reams Broadcasting at the ever-exclusive Sofitel Hotel, which was very “French”. We also featured Erica Farber from McGavren-Guild (our rep firm) and Tom Birch, President of Birch Radio Ratings. Tom had made significant inroads establishing his ratings firm as a viable alternative to Arbitron and, as far as I was concerned, offered a superior methodology to the older service. All of our speakers were excellent. Tom and Erica had to leave town. Lee Abrams decided to spend the night. Look out.

Depending upon point of view, Lee and I have always been very good or bad influences on each other. I always thoroughly enjoy his company and conversation and sense this is mutual. The party lasted until 4:30 the following morning.

I went home to shower after first making snow-angels in my backyard in Perrysburg. That I occasionally behave in such manner without audience is a point of Irish pride. I was at work by 8:00 a.m. There was a small cut on my head, which Lee told me had come from a security guard’s nightstick. I sheepishly reported this to Frazier and later was informed by Lee that he had been “just kidding”. Score one for Abrams.

I called a friend at the Sofitel and had them run a fake computer invoice for “damages” in Lee’s room. The amount came to $5,987.00. When it was hand-delivered, I gave it to Frazier. He presented it to Lee. Make that a tie with Cavanaugh.

Frazier and I visited both Cincinnati and Nashville.

Frazier was interested in adding new properties to the group. WSKS-FM was available in Cincinnati for 4.5 million dollars. WSIX AM/FM in Nashville
was on the market for 8.0. Negotiations continued through the summer months. It seemed as though we would move on one or the other opportunity, given favorable terms and adequate financing. In September, Frazier called me on his car phone. He was buying both.

“Is That A Joint?”

April 23, 2009




Susan Reams had rescued Frazier from outrageous bachelorhood just before his run for Governor in 1968. It was Frazier’s first marriage and Susan’s third. Her first had ended in divorce. Her second husband died in a tragic auto accident in which Susan and two sons had also sustained serious injury. She had three sons in all and came to Frazier with a ready-made family. Their union produced a daughter named Molly. Frazier adopted Ed, David and John and loved them as his own. They also took his name.

Susan was not a shy woman, nor one to tolerate mediocrity. She wore her wealth with class and dignity, yet with assertion and forceful fixation. Once dedicated to a task, nothing would hinder her progress. I became convinced she probably had been the Queen of France in a prior incarnation and I liked her immensely. She was extremely well-connected in Toledo Society and most anxious to further the interests of Reams Broadcasting with any contributions she might be able to offer. I took her at her word. Susan had the town wired socially and politically. It was time to use our riverfront location to distinct and unique advantage. WEBN in Cincinnati had inaugurated fireworks on the Ohio. There was no reason WIOT/WCWA shouldn’t do the same on the Maumee. Susan went to work.

Our first “WIOT/WCWA Sky Concert” was held on Labor Day in 1983 as a conclusion to the “Toledo Festival of the Arts”. It was pyrotechnics synchronized to music. In subsequent years, we would add the 4th of July to our schedule. Future productions would be executed on eight-track tape with sound effects, laser-guns and direct electronic-firing incorporated into our efforts. Giant speaker banks would line both sides of the Maumee. Estimated crowd size would increase to a half-million in attendance and even more watching live television coverage in the comfort of their homes. The “Sky Concert” fireworks became an ultimate corporate statement. Reams Broadcasting ruled the river as WIOT/WCWA took the town.

I attended an ABC Radio Network Affiliates Meeting in Palm Beach, Florida and was elected Chairman of the Rock Network Affiliates Board. WIOT and WWCK both carried the network. I was quite excited with the opportunity to offer direct input into national programming plans. Eileen and I had a wonderful time and made many new friends and acquaintances.

Westwood One had dropped their involvement with “Buffalo Dick’s Radio Ranch” due to content problems with some affiliates. I brought Jeff Lamb to Toledo where I would try to launch our own Reams Broadcasting efforts to syndicate the show. We were now carrying “Radio Ranch” in Toledo and Muskegon as well as Flint. We had recorded our first “WIOT/WCWA Fireworks Soundtrack” in Jeff’s apartment. To further justify Jeff’s salary, I tried him out as a disc-jockey on WIOT. It was awful. Without the character voices and conceptual opportunities afforded by “Radio Ranch”, Jeff didn’t know who Jeff was. He gave it a wonderful try, but it just wouldn’t work. We decided to concentrate on “Buffalo Dick”, but I was facing problems finding adequate time to properly pursue the project.

We needed someone who could both personally manage Jeff and sell the program coast-to-coast. An excellent candidate appeared on the scene and had expressed his interest and availability. Jeff and I waited at my house for his arrival on a sunny September afternoon. I received a call from my prospect. He had been stopped for speeding as he crossed into Ohio from Michigan and was stranded at the Sylvania Post of the Highway Patrol in lieu of $45.00 bond. He needed us to come bail him out. Terry Knight was stone broke.

When Terry Knight and Grand Funk Railroad parted company in 1973, Terry had come out of the deal personally with approximately ten million dollars in cash. He owned his own jet planes, hung-out with the stars and had raced cars with Paul Newman. He had managed English model “Twiggy” and had become involved with motion pictures, Broadway musicals and varied investments around the world. He was one of the smartest and fastest players on the circuit. It got too fast and not at all smart. He had lost everything. The drain was cocaine.

Terry and I had spoken many times since he surfaced back in Flint shortly before my move to Toledo. He was honest in stating his predicament. He thought he might like to return to his disc-jockey roots and try an airshift on WWCK. That seemed unusual. I had discussed “Radio Ranch” with Terry and how I felt it offered a natural opportunity with substantial potential. He was coming to Toledo to spend time with Jeff. We sprang him from the cooler in Sylvania.

Terry and Jeff worked together for two weeks. Jeff was waiting for lightning to strike. If Terry had brought Grand Funk from obscurity to global glory, “Buffalo Dick” could surely ascend with similar magnificence. Even part-way wouldn’t be all-bad. Jeff and I would have settled for just getting on twenty more radio stations with a thirteen week commitment. Terry seemed more interested in the creative side of things, exactly what we didn’t need. The “product” was already proven. We wanted networking, not circle-jerking. Terry decided he just wanted to “write”. We abandoned the exercise and wished Terry well. He asked me if he could borrow a thousand dollars. I politely declined.

Terry’s fall was as spectacular and awesome as his rise. A meteor burns brightest only seconds before impact. Had Jeff and I witnessed only residue from final flame-out? We were not to know. Terry left Toledo and disappeared. There were rumors of participation in a “Federal Witness Protection Program”. I did not discount the possibility, nor did I seek to learn more. There was no point.

On November 1, 2004, Terry Knight was stabbed to death in Temple, Texas, by his 16 year-old daughter’s boyfriend, now serving life in prison.

Reams Broadcasting moved Jeff back to Flint in late November and put expanded “Radio Ranch” efforts on a back-burner. Jeff and I would remain friends and I promised him we’d work together again. I was to honor my pledge seven years later when Jeff would host one of the highest-rated morning shows in Toledo history on WIOT with a completely different approach. Sometimes it takes a while figuring things out.

1984 started with attendance in January at the annual “Burkhart/Abrams Programming Conference” with Bob Lafferty, Ron Shannon and Susan Reams. It was held in San Francisco at the Fairmont Hotel and featured many wild, unusual highlights.

There was a special record company party at the “Starship Mansion” where Jefferson Airship/Starship had lived for many years. With the strains of “White Rabbit” thumping away in the background, Susan Reams met lead-guitarist Paul Kantner and asked him what he did. He dryly told her he “worked in the house”. He proceeded to roll the largest joint in history of the world outside Kingston. He fired-up and thrust the monsterous mountain of marijuana at Mrs. Reams. Without hesitation, she courteously took a toke or two and passed it along. She excitedly whispered.

Peter. Peter! Is that a joint?”


“I’m not sure, Susan, but I think it’s expected that we go along with it.”

“Well, I think we should too! Let’s not tell Frazier!”



Ron Shannon, being a former-musician, got carried away with the ambiance of it all and wanted to drive our tour bus upon leaving the mansion. He sensed the hills of San Francisco offered exceptional promise for outstanding motoring sport and adventure. Popular sentiment delicately expressed persuaded him to the contrary.

We were treated to a trip north into Sonoma Wine Country as guests of the rock group “Journey”. Their private chef fixed lunch for us on a veranda overlooking the Pacific. Dessert was Hawaiian “Maui Wowie”. What a thoughtful touch. Lee Abrams and I rode and smoked our way down through Sausalito and across the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset. Incredible!

We were at a meeting the next day when James Brown walked into the room. The “Godfather of Soul” was appearing at the Fairmont and had heard that some radio people were hanging about. He just stopped-in to say hello. Susan shook his hand and told him how much she loved his work. She later asked me who he was. She was under the impression she had been introduced to “James Bond”. He certainly looked different off-screen.

We all returned home with the satisfaction only hard work, sleepless nights and diligent application of effort at a radio convention can bring.

I appointed Bob Lafferty as Vice-President and General Manager of the Toledo stations.

Neil Kearney accepted the position of Vice-President and General Manager of WKBZ/WRNF in Muskegon. Frazier and Susan had just purchased an FM companion for the AM albatross.

Muskegon was the source of constant frustration. It was losing well over a quarter-million dollars a year, as was WCWA in Toledo. WIOT and WWCK were enormously profitable. It was imperative that losses be reduced as well as profits gained to assure continuing prosperity. Neil seemed ready for the challenge in Muskegon, even as Lafferty was formulating new plans for our Toledo AM.

Within two years, Neil would sharply curtail Muskegon deficits and gain enormous managerial experience for a greater task ahead. Under his guidance, WKBZ would become the highest-rated AM station in Western Michigan and WRNF-FM would triple its listenership and become Muskegon’s leading contemporary music outlet. Neil became active in the Muskegon Chamber of Commerce and staged 4th of July “Sky Concerts” on Lake Michigan simulcast on WKBZ/WRNF. Where’d he get that idea?

In Toledo, we had taken another giant step in dominating the downtown riverfront. Promenade Park was not only right next to Fort Industry Square and our radio stations, but looked to me like a great place for concerts. Rock ‘n Roll!

Starting in 1984 and continuing through the early’90’s, WIOT’s Toledo “River Rallies” “Rocked The Docks” with national talent and exceptional crowds. Six or seven major events were scheduled each season from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Admission was free-of-charge and beer was sold. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised for area charities and our thirty-five foot-tall “WIOT Coyote” proudly stood in exalted promotional slendor directly adjacent to the stage at each and every performance. Attractions presented included Mitch Ryder, Cheap Trick, REO Speedwagon, The Hooters, Bo Diddley, The Outlaws, Rare Earth, Todd Rundgren, Bachman-Turner-Overdrive, Eddie Money, Jason Bonham, Martha and the Vandellas, :38 Special, The Guess Who, Peter Frampton and many more. WIOT’s identification with the “River Rallies” was superior image-marketing at its best and, naturally, a gracious time was had by all.


April 23, 2009



I was extremely touched when the Flint Journal recognized my departure with a front-page story headlined “Goodbye, Peter C.” The article by Dave Guilford tracked my history in the market since the “Beatle Days” almost twenty years earlier. It was more than generous with praise and positive comment. I’m sure I’ll never live to see a finer obituary.

The reorganization of WWCK/WWMN was made relatively easy with the management talent available. I appointed Ron Shannon as Vice-President and General Manager, Nancy Dymond as Regional Sales Manager and Neil Kearney as Local Sales Manager. They had earned their promotions with grace and distinction and were completely familiar with established policies and procedures, many of which had been of their own initiation.

From a corporate perspective, my elevation was perceived as the “pirate frigate” taking over the fleet. In spite of common ownership, Flint had remained organizationally isolated from WIOT/WCWA in Toledo. This was due to well-deserved paranoia on the part of a former General Manager who regarded our Flint configuration as a threat to his empire. While Frazier Reams, Jr. was President and owner, his direct involvement with day-to-day operations was minimal. The position of Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer was a new creation. I would also function as Vice-President and General Manager of the Toledo stations until such time as I felt it appropriate to elevate another to handle those responsibilities. My first morning in Toledo, the only person I knew well was Frazier. Everyone else was a mystery, but not for long.

WIOT was doing quite well financially as an Album Rocker. It was also consulted by Burkhart/Abrams and Lee Michaels. “FM 104” had gone through the ratings roof as a result of this association and no real competition, soaring from a 9.7% to an astounding 19.7% total audience share in the Fall of 1979. Since then, it had dropped back down to an 11.3% performance level, although remaining Toledo’s top-rated radio station.

WCWA-AM had gone through a number of format changes in recent times and crashed trying “Controversial Talk” to a 1.8%  share in 1980. It was now realizing substantially more success with a “Big Band” approach and was showing stronger overall listenership, although the actual WCWA audience tended to be much older than what most advertisers considered attractive demographics.

In terms of physical facilities, there was hardly any fair comparison between Flint and Toledo.

WWCK/WWMN were housed in a rambling structure of undetermined and antiquated architectural design. It was not unlike a large garage with wings. It was right next to an expressway in a district which had seen its best years decades before. We often had floods in the rear of the building and broadcast equipment was functional, but hardly flashy. I had installed a new production studio during my tenure and was fortunate in having young engineers who could fix anything and/or make due with what they had available. Technically, we sounded great on the air.

WIOT/WCWA and the corporate offices of Reams Broadcasting had just moved into Fort Industry Square, a string of old buildings which had been renovated and restored at a cost of some thirty-five million dollars. We occupied the entire fourth floor of the largest section. Fort Industry Square represented the heart of a downtown Toledo undergoing fabulous change and renaissance.

We were right on the banks of the Maumee River, next to five acres of Promenade Park. Frazier was a partner in Fort Industry Square and had participated in other new investments as well. In less than three years time, nearly two hundred million dollars had been commited to construction and restoration projects in a five block area. There would be a new “Festival Marketplace” and “Sofitel Hotel” on the Maumee, next to a new Toledo Trust Bank. Towering above all was a sparkling glass edifice housing world headquarters for Owens-Illinois. WIOT’s programming was fed by microwave to its 50,000 watt transmitter and antenna right on Lake Erie, ten miles distant.  Similarly, WCWA was linked by microwave to a tower site five miles away on Toledo’s South Side.

Our surroundings were upscale and expensive at Fort Industry. There was an extraordinarily-appointed restaurant in the building called “The Boody House”, named after a famous Toledo landmark. Beneath “The Boody House” was “Digby’s”, a lovely jazz-bar offering excellent accomodation and copious supplies of alcohol. One didn’t even have to venture outside Fort Industry to find generous drink and congenial companionship. Oh dear!

My first discovery at WIOT/WCWA was that many employees weren’t speaking to one another. There were little kingdoms everywhere. The former manager had ruled through division. The staff was playing “baseball in the dark”. I turned on the floodlights.

Bob Lafferty had been General Sales Manager under the prior regime and was to remain so. Bob was quite smart and seemed eager to contribute whatever might be required in establishing a new order. He was understandably used to political intrigue from his years at Reams and had been more than a bit confused and bewildered by perplexing twists and turns of fortune. These had been largely generated by Frazier’s former partner, Jack Linn, before and during Jack’s time of departure. Another source of corporate confusion had been and was Grover Lewis.

Grover was a handsome man in his late-fifties and had been with Frazier for a number of years. He was Vice-President and Treasurer of Reams Broadcasting. His only notable achievement, as far as I could discern, was maintaining a good relationship with Frazier in spite of minimal skills and abilities. Then too, he had divorced his wife of many years and married Frazier’s secretary, an attractive woman of younger age. That probably counted for something. He was of slender intellect and wandering ways. My Traffic Manager in Flint had asked me to suggest to Grover that “he stop grabbing her tits” while visiting the facility. This was a message I had forcefully and firmly conveyed.

Grover Lewis did all accounting with a hand-cranked adding machine on his desk. Profit and Loss statements were usually three or four months late, even though Toledo was finally computerized. Grover left it to others to handle the computer, which he resented almost as much as my presence in Toledo. Neither the computer or I had a crank. As far as could be determined, Grover contributed nothing whatsoever to the corporation other than incessant meddling.

He had tried to occupy the power vacuum left by Jack Linn with partial success. With my arrival, he was neutered. I was most cordial to him at all times and only asked that he operate in his own area of expertise, such as it was, and not interfere with our station managers. That he was chronically guilty of continuing to assert himself in matters outside his domain was more due to ineptitude than intent. I honestly believe that he tried, but always remained trying.

In the case of Grover and other issues which would face us in the times ahead, I had come to realize that working in Toledo would require a personal shift in focus.

At WTAC and WWCK, my fundamental goal had been operational success. Absentee ownership had placed me completely in charge. The owner’s office was now barely twenty feet from my own. My ultimate loyalty was to him. From a practical view, “pleasing Frazier” was now all that really mattered. He was, after all, “The President”. He had afforded me a spectacular professional opportunity.

Frazier generally agreed with almost all of my decisions and could not have been more supportive of my efforts on his behalf. At the same time, there were certain matters beyond serious discussion. These included particular prioritizations not necessarily parallel with clearly objective managerial practices. I was a hired hand. The boss owned the ranch. I was hardly in a unique situation. My salary had doubled. I now had six stations under my guidance. Frazier was as charming and delightful an employer as he’d ever been. I worked in a beautiful new building with a bar in the basement. Who was to bitch? It was Peter C. Paradise!!

The Toledo Speedway had become the site of major outdoor rock concerts on a grand scale. WIOT was proud to host Bob Seger in early July with over 45,000 in attendance. He came in by helicopter. We spoke briefly backstage.
We agreed we were both a long way from Sherwood Forest, he more than I.
He received $300,000 for his appearance. It was the last authentic “Toledo Speedway Jam” until WIOT would present “Guns and Roses” in 1991.


I had been in Toledo two months when new competition broke into the market. A Bowling Green station moved their tower closer to the city limits and WRQN started rocking the town.

They stole our WIOT morning team and four salespeople. I found two guys who’d been together since high-school in the Milwaukee area working on a station in Kalamazoo. Bob Madden and Brian Nelson were highly gifted. Bob was perpetually “up” and found the world exciting in every way. Brian was almost manic-depressive and the essense of dedicated cynicism. Their chemistry was perfect.

We did a Toledo version of “Great Escape”, except we chose the destination.  I didn’t want another “Cape Cod”. Our Toledo winners accompanied Bob and Brian to Australia for a week. They brought back excellent video which we used for “post-promotional” purposes. Bob and Brian were proudest of their camera-work offering prolonged focus on a flushing toilet. They proclaimed with excited wonder, “The water goes backwards!” Bob and Brian were always asking Frazier to “buy them a pony.”

Bob Lafferty quickly replaced departed sales people with new hires of serious merit, including Tammy Kinzer. Tammy had worked with WCWA in times before and had been lured away from Reams by the local cable company. She returned to WIOT and was to set local sales records within weeks of her return.

All in all, we never missed a beat. WIOT ratings edged up to a 12.3%  audience share, even as WRQN debuted with a 10.0% . I took great personal satisfaction in having successfully steered us through a potential “crisis”. Frazier was happy. Susan was thrilled.

“Flint to Flint to Flint”

April 23, 2009



Well, how could we follow-up on “The Great Escape”? Great ideas often come from passing thoughts exchanged in pleasant conversation. I was hanging out one night with our station attorney, Jim Zimmer. We were at The White Horse, a tavern near downtown Flint. Jim was talking about law school and interesting things he had discovered on his way to the bar.

Did you know there’s an island called Flint?”


“In the middle of fucking nowhere. It’s out in the goddamn South Pacific.”

“Its name is FLINT?”


That’s all I needed to hear. Research the following day revealed that the island of Flint was part of the Republic of Kiribati. It was a three and a-half by half mile coral reef in the deep South Pacific, existing totally uninhabited, approximately four hundred miles north of Papeete, Tahiti. It was discovered by American sailors in 1798. Flint was described as a “tropical paradise” and was heavily wooded. The island surrounded a deep, blue lagoon with an average, year-round temperature of 77 degrees. It was ten degrees south of the Equator.

Flint Island--Actual Picture

The promotion took two months to arrange. With cooperation from the U.S. State Department, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, The Republic of Kiribati, The British State Department, The French Department of State, the government of French Polynesia and an extraordinarily resourceful travel agency in Venice, California, our prize package was complete.

WWCK would give away a “Trip to Flint!”

We first announced that we were about to introduce the greatest radio promotion in the history of Michigan and it would mean journeying “from Flint to Flint to Flint”. No one was sure if we were doing some sort of weird campaign for the Chamber of Commerce or had simply lost our minds. After a week of teasing, the complete outline of the promotion was presented in a masterfully produced fifteen minute announcement which had taken over twenty hours to complete. It had everything and each step of the mission was introduced with sound effects, staging music and killer narrative.

The approach was quite simple. WWCK had discovered there was an island called “Flint” in the South Pacific. We wanted to prepare a “WWCK Time Capsule” filled with contemporary artifacts from Flint, Michigan. We needed a willing couple to travel to the island and bury the capsule beneath the sand where it would “await discovery by some future civilization who will know of us all through the incredible achievement of our winning couple”. We also had an imaginary “WWCK Time Capsule” which we would hide “somewhere in our 105 FM listening area”. We would give clues. Whoever eventually guessed the location would head for Flint!

And what a trip it would be!

Our winners would be picked-up in the WWCK “Super Van” and be driven to Metro Airport in Detroit, from which they would fly to Las Vegas for twenty-four hours of casino enjoyment and a Master Suite at the MGM Grand. The next morning, it was on to Los Angeles for another twenty-four hour stop-over with studio tours and a visit to Disneyland. Then the real excitement would begin. There would be a non-stop flight to Papeete, Tahiti via “Air Tunguru” and several days of enjoyment at the luxurious Te Puna Bel Air Resort in a private bungalow, adjacent to a natural spring-fed pool. After taking in the sights and sounds of Papeete and its surroundings, our couple would board the fifty-four foot schooner “Mimetaga” and be the only passengers aboard this special WWCK charter, heading romantically north with professional, licensed crew to “The Lost Island of Flint”.

The vessel would be piloted by the “legendary Captain Michel” who, through an interpreter, stated that he “understood WWCK’s mission and philosophy with excitement and enthusiasm”. After five days of voyage on the “Mimetaga”, offering “private air-conditioned cabins with plenty of food and refreshment of every kind”, the schooner would anchor off “Flint” and all aboard would set ashore at dawn for a day of exploration as “Rock ‘n Roll Robinson Crusoes” and complete their day at sunset by burying a genuine “Time Capsule” in the “eternal sand”.

It was all real! The City of Flint went crazy!! It was a MOTHER FUCKER!!!

Newspaper and television coverage for WWCK was continuous during the entire duration of the promotion.

The eventual ratings of a 14.3% total audience share during the “Trip to Flint” period was not only the best in the history of the station, but the highest measurement by market share of any Album Rock station in the entire country.

WWCK was voted “Album Rock Station of the Year” by Burkhart/Abrams and Billboard Magazine. The “Trip to Flint” campaign won not only a “Gold First Place Addy” from the Flint Area Advertising Federation, but was determined by the judges to be “Best of Show”, beating not only other local media efforts in all categories of entry, but also national Buick Motor Division advertising for the entire year! Cool!!

“Flint to Flint”–WWCK

Narration by Art Morrison--KCBS, San Francisco

Produced by Randy Stephenson--President--RMS Studios, Detroit

Written by Peter Cavanaugh, Oakhurst, CA

Our “Trip to Flint” winning couple seemed to be ideal. They were both educated and articulate and appeared thoroughly enchanted by their pending journey. They pledged total cooperation in calling-in reports and video-taping highlights of their adventure. She did her best to keep things together. It might have been better if he had not turned-out to be a raging alcoholic of vicious disposition.

I had asked the couple what their favorite beverages were so we could surprise them with a toast beginning their journey in our Super Van on the way to the airport in Detroit. He killed his pint of Jack Daniels before we hit the parking lot at Metro. What have we here?

They lost several thousand station-provided dollars of spending money in Las Vegas. It had been “stolen from their room”. Sure. They were broke. I wired another two grand.

They finally made it to Papeete and he tried to sell their boat passage for cash. They were thrown-out of their hotel for various forms of misbehavior. All reports indicated he was regularly beating the shit out of her. Screw it. I ordered the mission scrubbed and the couple sent home.

He went directly to the press and complained about the “nightmare” he had found in Tahiti with “machine-gun toting natives” and “third world accomodations”. I was quoted as saying that WWCK felt sorry that the couple had reacted so negatively and that it was clear “personal issues beyond our control” had rendered the vacation disappointing. All in all, we got very fair and favorable local coverage. The “National Globe” ran hubby’s version.

Jim Zimmer and I told the asshole that we would sue for everything he had and tell the whole world the real story if he didn’t shut-the-fuck-up. He agreed to do so. Not too soon after, he threatened to burn-down his house with wife inside. She had already gone to the police. The conversation was wire-tapped. He served two years in a Federal slammer. Fuck him. All’s well that ends well.

I had become President of the Flint Ad Club and was chosen “Businessman of the Year” by Flint Sales and Marketing Executives, a unique distinction for me and for radio . In April of 1983, Frazier asked me to move to Toledo and accept appointment as Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer of Reams Broadcasting.

“Sunday Sixties”

April 23, 2009
Roy "Roy Boy" Guidry 1945-2009

Roy "Roy Boy" Guidry 1945-2009


Flint Arbitron ratings were heading back up for WWCK, rising to a share of 13.4% from the prior 10.5%. WWCK was finally a solid #1 in the Flint market. Second place was occupied by newcomer WDZZ-FM. The Black FM debuted with a 12.2% share. Every other station in the market was in “single digits”. WTAC had plummeted to a 3.1% Research indicated that WWCK’s audience was lily-White and WDZZ’s jet-Black. WTAC had been the last Flint station to successfully combine large segments of both groups into a single audience. What had happened in Flint was occurring elsewhere as a consequence of FM’s newly-found acceptance.

Paradoxically, the proliferation of broadcast technology, instead of increasing mass communication, had exactly the opposite effect. Formats were becoming decidedly more discrete. The first separations divided White from Black and young from old. As time progressed, we would see demographic, racial and sexual segmentation becoming increasingly narrow.

Final--CK '81

In 1982, our AM station became WMMN (“Flint’s New Woman”). It was brilliantly developed and expertly managed by Marsha Kloor, an outstandingly creative individual with whom I had worked at WTAC. Another “Five Alive”, WWMN was only moments ahead of its time. The experiment was concluded in 1984. We had obtained industry-wide attention with the format, but potential was limited by our daytime-only, highly-restricted AM signal. On FM, it would have been a different story. Fragmentation was the future.

We now have stations programmed for young White males and middle-aged Black females. “Oldies” stations are offered for the “’50’s, ’60’s, ’70’s and ’80’s crowds. There are groupings and sub-groupings and sub-sub-groupings of the sub-sub-sub-groupings. Television has expanded from two or three to sixty or seventy channels. It’s all been a natural progression. It was bound to happen. Yet, one thing is undeniable. By direct proportion; the more options exercised, the more isolation obtained. Don’t look now, but we’ve all been dispersed. The “Global Village” has become a lonely old town.

Among a number of programming adjustments during my first year at WWCK had come the introduction of a new Sunday morning feature. Although a certain amount of new music was being incorporated into our song rotations as time went on, it was becoming clear that our audience was more interested in hearing more “older” rock music than recent fare.
In rock programming, this was strange.

In the early days of “Top Forty”, almost everything was “Current”. Once a song left the chart, it was rarely heard again on a radio station. In the early ’60’s, most stations created an “Oldies” category to address this factor and would feature one or two songs each hour from the classification. In the early ’70’s, the concept of “Recurrents” became common. “Recurrents” were tunes which were “too young to be “Oldies”, but too valuable to be dropped. The life cycle of a major hit thus became ; “Hitbound” to “Current”” to “Top Ten” to “Recurrent” to “Oldie”. Degree of broadcast exposure was determined accordingly. Defining “Current” as “anything released in the last six months”, WWCK was playing approximately 20% “Current” music and 80% “Recurrent and Oldies”, although we had different labels now for these last two and actually broke things down even further under the definitions those terms used to represent.

A sense of “Rock Continuum” was emerging. Certain rock material continuously led in musical popularity, regardless of age. There was also a pronounced nostalgia evident for “The Sixties”, then only a decade gone. The majority of our WWCK announcers and listeners had barely hit puberty at the time of Woodstock and, Goddammit, they were pissed at what they’d missed. We decided to do a two-hour program called “Sunday Sixties” after “Radio Free Flint” concluded. It would feature music from the era, as well as thoughts, comments, observations and reflections offered in friendly narrative fashion by someone who had lived through those times in active, energetic pursuit of continual cultural enhancement and personal libidinal fulfillment. I hired myself as host.

“Sunday Sixties” was a form of executive therapy. It also attracted faithful listenership and a certain amount of controversy. In market studies conducted by a competing radio station, I was honored in being rated as the most highly recognized air personality in Flint radio. I was also the most liked by male respondents to the survey and most disliked by females, other than those under the age of twenty-four. Generally, my overall scoring was identical to that of “Rock ‘n Roll” as a whole. To be in the same company as Led Zeppelin was all than I could ever desire.

“Sunday Sixties” was usually the end of my Saturday night. I also had a co-host. His name was “Roy Boy”.

Roy Guidry was a “crazy Cajun”. He had come up to Flint from Port Arthur, Texas and landed a job with “Generous Motors” in the early ’60’s. Roy had attended the same high-school as Janis Joplin. He was one of my “Concert Associates” and had handled plenty of security detail at Sherwood Forest “Wild Wednesdays”. Scores of bad asses had learned propriety from Roy and his entourage. There had only been one close call. Some pecker-head had been throwing fireworks around in the crowd during the final performance of the night, so Roy and the boys had dragged him down to the lake and handcuffed him under the dock. Roy had left him “jes’ ‘nuf air to breath, if he took li’l breaths”. We had ended the concert and had headed out for breakfast. It was 2:20 a.m. I was in the middle of my bacon and eggs.

“Ahhhhhh shit!”

“What, Roy?”

“Ahhh think we better go back ta the pahrk!”

Why, Roy?”

“Somebody mighta drowded!”

The poor son-of-a-bitch was only semi-conscious, but had not drowned.
Since it was the middle of Summer, water temperatures in the 70’s had ruled-out terminal hypothermia. Roy slipped-off the cuffs and dragged a forlorn figure out of the lake. The erstwhile pyrotechnical offender was unclear as to where he was or how he got there. Roy Boy told him. Roy also said that he was lucky being “let-out early”. Expressing gratitude and promising to sin no more, the contrite recipient of “Concert Associates” justice squished-off into the night. Roy also told me he’d be more careful remembering the sequestered on future assignments.

Roy Boy and I would leave the T-Bird Lounge around 3:00 a.m. and head for Billy Coleman’s. “B.C.” always hosted “After Hours Cocktails” at his hideout on Flushing Road. We would drink a few more beers, smoke several bowls of hash, listen to loud music and shoot rats running around the Flint River banks until the sun rose. It was then time to gather ourselves together and prepare for broadcast.

We would have breakfast at Walli’s and drink gallons of coffee. At the station by 9:00, we would spend an hour selecting music and scripting a few “bits” for the day. Roy Boy would also run over to the air studio and “moon” Michael Moore a few times whenever Roy discerned Michael was “gittin’ too serious”. We would hit the air at 10 a.m. ready to Rock ‘n Roll!!

Ostensibly, Roy Boy was our official “WWCK Rock-On-The-Road Reporter” and would give rambling, disjointed, surrealistic reviews of concerts recently held in the area, some of which he had actually attended. I would introduce him with great exaggeration and fanfare. He would also do the weather, take phone dedications on-the-air and read a few of the preceding Friday’s closing Dow Jones Averages for the “Bi’ness Boys” listening. We would end each “Roy Boy” segment with a standard exchange, always involving what beverage Roy was consuming that morning.

Hey, Roy. What’s that stuff you’re chuggin’ today with that red thing floatin’ on top?”

“Peter C., I’m drinkin’ a “Kentucky Date”!

“What’s a “Kentucky Date”, Roy?”

“One sweet cherry and five fingers of “Old Granddad!!”

Out of Roy’s punch-line, which would always strive for maximum disgust, we would segue immediately into a high-energy rock song. It always seemed to work. Almost all of our scripting time was devoted to drinks of the day. Everything else Roy did was best at its most spontaneous.

I also used “Sunday Sixties” to interview interesting people. I had Pete Flanders appear several times sharing memories of earlier Flint radio.

Pat Clawson (with CNN at the time) was visiting from Washington and joined me one Sunday morning. Pat shared with our audience his experiences covering the crash of a commercial jet into the Potomac River just days earlier. He said most of the recovered bodies were frozen-solid in a seated position. Roy Boy asked Pat if he had any pictures.

Even Charlie Speights (vacationing from Las Vegas) came on board while in town. Charlie and I received a call from the woman who broke up his first marriage. It turned out that she was a regular listener to “Sunday Sixties”. He hadn’t spoken with her for fifteen years. She invited us over after we left the air. She made us lunch. Roy Boy thought she had “real big titties”. So did Charlie. Time to forgive and forget. Roy and I left, but Charlie stayed for a week.

WWCK visibility was universal in Flint. We had station banners in every bar and our air personalities were hosting movie openings, important community events and every major rock concert in Flint and Saginaw. We were also top-rated in eighteen to thirty year-old male listenership in the Tri-Cities to the north, an incredible achievement with our three thousand watts.

Peter C. 40th Birthday Belly Dancer — WWCK Sales Office — 9/8/81. Left to Right — Marla Downs, Belly Dancer, Jefff Holbrook, Jim Baade

One of our newest acquisitions was the “105 Super Van”, an outrageously- loaded mind-blower. We painted it glossy-black with white-trim and red-lettering.

We had been looking to obtain a “station image vehicle” for months, but needed to do so on a barter basis for budgetary reasons. Nancy Dymond had achieved the impossible on her second day as an Account Executive in arranging the trade for our “wonder machine”. Ron Shannon and I couldn’t believe it when she pranced into the station and waved the contract. We thought she must have misunderstood the impossibilities involved. A $40,000 vehicle for air time? That was a real long-shot! Nancy was surprised with our surprise. She told us she could sell! Guess so.

The “Super Van” went along to everything we did. It was in all the parades, and we even picked-up thousands of miniature footballs engraved with our station logo, which we would throw out of the top at High School Homecomings. No stone was left unturned, nor turn unstoned.

At the close of the 1981 “United Way” Campaign, we hung the “105 Super Van” one hundred feet in the air with a gigantic construction crane over our WWCK billboard on Flint’s busiest expressway and staged a remote broadcast for twelve hours. We did it without advance notice or warning of any kind. All the heaviest of local dignitaries were hoisted-up for brief appearances. Doing it with “United Way” provided permission otherwise unobtainable. Traffic was backed-up for miles. Pictures of the suspended van ran on the front page of the Flint Journal. Video was featured on all local television newscasts and even carried in Detroit. Karen Owens from Channel Twelve in Flint met and interviewed Sean McNeill, who was now doing mornings at WWCK. They fell in love and got married.

We presented the “First Annual WWCK Rock-Off” at Flint’s Capitol Theater. “Finalists” were selected after a month of on-air contesting. We ran it like a spelling bee. The production requirements were awesome. Each contestant had to identify a specific piece of music by artist and title. Everything had to come up in exact sequence. There were over four hundred separate elements included. It came off flawlessly in live broadcast. The team was getting really good.

1982 WWCK "105 Super Home"--An Ultimate in Cultural Sophistication

WWCK Promotions Director Tim Siegrist & WWCK Production Director Randy Stephenson — Live Broadcast — “WWCK Rock Off”

WWCK’s Bridget Beech (the future Mrs. Ron Shannon), “Rock Off” Contest Winner, WWCK Program Director Mark Miller, WWCK’s Morris Thomas

It was becoming a challenge to make each new major station promotion bigger and better than whatever had come before. We decided to give away the world!

“The WWCK Great Escape” offered the opportunity to win a trip for two
anywhere in the world. Listeners would call when solicited and had to say where they wanted to go and who they wanted to bring along. I thought that the second part would prove interesting and, in fact, it became the source of much advance contemplation in the minds of listeners. Hmmmmm. Who could they least afford to offend? Several “finalists” even chose the wives of others. Hey, we were talking anywhere in the world with anyone you wanted. There would be plenty of time to straighten things out upon return. Rock ‘n Roll!!

We arranged to have the final drawing conducted on live television at Channel Twelve in the middle of “General Hospital”, where Luke and Laura were churning up viewership by the ton. I decided to have Price-Waterhouse supervise the exercise to certify legitimacy and authenticity. It also offered additional dramatics. We had the entire air staff on hand and even pre-recorded a two minute lead-in with everybody climbing into the “WWCK Super Van” and driving to the television station. Disc-jockeys were hanging-off the roof and sides. I had set-aside fifteen thousand dollars from our promotional funds to cover expenses. Our winners might be going to Australia or Russia or Hong Kong or Outer Mongolia. It didn’t matter. We said anywhere and we meant ANYWHERE!

The moment of truth was at hand. We had a big barrel with all our finalists and their dream destinations marked on individual forms. The drum-roll began. The barrel was spinning. It slowed and stopped. A blind-folded Sean McNeill reached in the barrel and randomly selected our winner. It was a lady and she and her mother would be going to——Cape Cod!! What? That’s right, we said “anywhere” and she wants “Cape Cod. “Cape Cod” it is! Yayyyyyyyy!!!!!”

Although not exactly ending in the grandiose manner I had envisioned, our winner got her trip and we saved $14,300. I was glad we had conducted our drawing on live TV. Even so, there were some who questioned the outcome. There are cynics everywhere. In future promotions requiring listener option, I would have our announcers suggest to contestants that they THINK BIG! Meanwhile, our “Great Escape” winner had a fantastic time at Cape Cod and wrote us a warm letter of thanks. I invited her out to the station and had her read the letter on the air. I then presented her with one thousand dollars in cash . She almost fainted. I simply said that she could have chosen many other places which were much more expensive, but that she had been most thrifty in her selection. The thousand dollars was WWCK’s way of saying, “We think you deserve more!” We realized another front-page shot in the Journal and additional local television exposure. It was the talk of the town. We still had $13,300 left.

There was sadness in July with the death of Harry Chapin. Harry had enjoyed several major hits, including “Cat’s in The Cradle”, “Taxi” and “W-O-L-D”; a song with which I particularly identified being the aging disc-jockey I was. Michael Moore had established a close relationship with Mr. Chapin through the years. Harry had appeared in a number of benefit performances for “The Flint Voice” at the Flint Masonic Auditorium and, in fact, was scheduled for yet another when he was killed in an auto accident. He had appeared with me several times on “Sunday Sixties” and had struck me as a kind, responsible man. Michael hosted a special edition of “Radio Free Flint” over WWCK the night of Harry’s death in a program dedicated to his memory.

Flint now had two major two-thousand-plus capacity entertainment lounges going head-to-head. They were both offering, I would note, primarily recorded dance music.

“The Mikatam” in Genesee was owned and operated by Tom Joubran, a Palestinian immigrant and self-made millionaire. Tom couldn’t understand why everyone else wasn’t getting rich in America. He also was amazed that no one else could seize opportunities as he did and profit accordingly. The truth was that few people could work twenty hours-a-day with the energy and drive that Tom considered a matter of normal routine. Sleep? What’s that??

Tom owned laundromats, apartment buildings, pizza parlors, grocery stores and lots else. His first love, however, was show business. He proved to be a gracious host and extraordinary client. He brought a number of relatives over from the old country and there were a few confusions from time to time. I was visiting Tom one night when we both noticed everyone being turned away from the door by a young nephew who had been instructed to check for I.D.s. He was demanding passports.

Tom’s primary nemesis was “The Light”, an ultra high-tech establishment occupying most of the basement area in the Small Mall on South Dort. “The Light” was owned by a Cincinnati-based group and managed by a young Irishman named Neil Kearney who took his responsibilities most seriously. Since each establishment was continually at the throat of the other in advertising and promotions, it was inevitable that points of dispute would sometimes arise which I would be required to mediate and/or decide as manager of the radio station. Both “The Light” and “The Mikatam” regularly spent thousands of dollars on the station, often within a single week’s time.
They were thus “premium accounts” requiring continual executive attention.

A disc-jockey from “The Light” had moved to “The Mikatam” and Tom was making it sound in his radio advertising as though “The Light” was absolutely finished. The new “Mikatam” disc-jockey had recorded a commercial wherein he told everyone how rotten “The Light” was and how glad he was to be out of there. The manager of “The Light, Mr. Kearney, was highly displeased and demanded that the spot be pulled. After debating the issue, I resolved that “The Mikatam” should be able to run whatever it wanted, with “The Light” afforded the same liberty. The last thing I wanted to get involved with was becoming arbiter over issues of client copy. I’d always be alienating half our account list. Let freedom ring!

Mr. Kearney was dissatisfied and attacked on all fronts. He pulled his entire broadcast schedule, instituted a lawsuit against the station, and was down at the Flint Journal trying to get them to do an “expose on WWCK mismanagement” – all in less than a single afternoon’s time. It seemed appropriate that we talk.

Ron Shannon and I traveled to “The Light” and met with Neil. I applauded him on the intensity and speed of his offensive. I suggested that, while not altering my position on the issue at hand for a variety of reasons, I understood his anger. I offered to provide a number of free announcements the following week for “The Light” in a ratio of one non-paid commercial for each one purchased. I said that I was doing that because I appreciated his business and felt that he had something coming as an offering of friendship. He immediately asked for two free ads for each one bought. I told him the ratio would remain as I had outlined, but that I would throw ten additional twenty second “mentions” into the bargain. We shook hands.

We had several drinks. I then mentioned that I was quite impressed with his initiative, aggression, commitment and loyalty to company. I told him to call me if he ever wanted a job in radio sales. He did so three months later. His first assigned account for WWCK was “The Mikatam”. He doubled the billing. Along with Nancy Dymond and Ron Shannon, I had one more exceptionally talented player on the roster. I would need them all.

Peter C. & Neil Kearney