“Buying Time”

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CHAPTER FIFTY-TWO

BUYING TIME

Reams Broadcasting was owned by Frazier Reams, Junior. Frazier was a former Ohio State Senator and had run for Governor in 1968 on the Democratic ticket. He lost to the ever popular Jim Rhodes and decided to devote a career to broadcasting, buying the Toledo stations from his father, a former Ohio Congressman and Lucas County Prosecutor. Frazier’s Dad had put the Toledo AM on the air on April 10, 1938, and the FM in October of 1949. Had Frazier been elected Governor of Ohio, he would have been holding office instead of his opponent when Rhodes called in the Ohio National Guard at Kent State.

Frazier Jr. had also purchased WKBZ-AM in Muskegon, Michigan. He liked the area and had often traveled through Muskegon heading toward his “summer cottage” at Harbor Springs on Grand Traverse Bay in Lake Michigan. To buy the Muskegon station, he also had to purchased an AM/FM combination in Cumberland, Maryland, which he quickly spun-off due to geographic inconvenience. It was not on the way to anything interesting.

Frazier had entered into partnership with Jack Linn, a former General Manager of Toledo’s WSPD. Jack owned a little piece of Toledo, but would share equally in the Flint stations. Jack was the actual operations person and tried to impress the Flint community with his partner’s impressive political credentials, referring to Frazier around town as the “Titular Head of the Ohio Democratic Party”. I started telling everyone that WWCK-FM had been purchased by “Tits”. Of course, I had never met the man. I had yet to make Mr. Linn’s acquaintance either, but felt I should properly introduce myself.

One of the first things WWCK’s new ownership had done was radically slash their rates for concert advertising and offer anything required for station involvement in live rock presentations. This was an excellent move on their part. It was one which could cost WTAC heavily, both in advertising revenue and future promotional opportunities. It was time for a neighborly visit.

I phoned WWCK’s General Manager, Charlie Cohen. I introduced myself in the friendliest of fashions. I asked when Mr. Linn might be in town and suggested that the three of us get together and discuss my purchase of commercial advertising on their station to promote “Peter C. Cavanaugh Concerts” on WWCK-FM. Cohen almost shit. He certainly knew who I was. They still had that dartboard up in their studio. WTAC’s Program Director becoming a client and buying time on their station? Talk about credibility! A meeting was quickly arranged for the following afternoon. Jack Linn was specifically driving-up from Toledo to be in attendance.

I had done considerable research on the Reams organization and specific characteristics of major players. Jack Linn was said to be Irish. I was counting on the fact that he would honestly try to fuck me.

Since I had become much more versed in FCC law than I would have ever preferred as a result of our “Spiro Agnew Letter” incident, I was particularly familiar with various interpretations of Commission policies relating to station involvement in conjunction with the promotion of live events. I had obtained actual copies of proposals made to other area promoters by the new management of WWCK in writing. I had also confirmed several verbal agreements which had been recently established and could obtain affidavits if necessary. I was ready to rock.

I was wearing my standard black leather jacket, jeans and T-shirt as I pulled into the WWCK parking lot for the first time in daylight. I walked toward the building with a look of grim resignation. I was surrendering to the inevitable. Met at the door by both Jack and Charlie, I was ushered into their General Manager’s office, which had once belonged to the Methodist Bishop of Flint. They brought me coffee and donuts. They asked about my family. They just couldn’t have been any nicer.

I told them I was prepared to cut a deal on the spot and seal it with a check for one thousand dollars in advance if terms were right. I clearly sensed twin erections. Jack Linn talked for over thirty minutes and I asked a series of innocent questions. I was assured about any number of things and obtained important commitment in several key areas. It sure sounded good to me!

We shook hands and I handed Mr. Linn my thousand dollar check. He examined it carefully. He smiled. He turned it over and saw the entire reverse-side covered in small print. He read it suspiciously. He frowned.

I had gone to greath lengths in attempting to cover all bases and had succeeded in addressing all central issues. There were several major stipulations which endorsement of the check would certify. Nothing was mentioned that hadn’t already been guaranteed verbally. Why the hesitation?

“What’s wrong?”

There was silence.

“The money’s good!”

Cohen looked confused. Linn looked pluperfectly pissed.

Jack’s acceptance and endorsement of the check would have handed me his Emerald Green family jewels on a platinum platter. He had told me many things in his enthusiasm to bring my business on board. Much was quite contrived and verifiably so. All I had asked is that he sign a statement attesting to his veracity, albeit unconventionally drafted on the back of a check. He promptly returned the check and left the room. I asked Charlie to bring him back immediately or really get fucked. He passed along the message and Jack returned.

I congratulated Mr. Linn on his new opportunities in Flint and discussed FCC guidelines as I understood them. I was speaking as an individual entrepreneur, not as WTAC’s Program Director. I outlined a letter of complaint I could instantly draft to the Commission based on information I had already obtained which existed completely independent of our little meeting. Of course, I would reference our conversations as well, even fully expecting he would completely deny many aspects. Charlie Cohen would have to lie to the FCC for him, but managerial positions were not without unpleasant responsibilities and unexpected challenges. Charlie looked angry, then scared. Mr. Linn asked me what I wanted.

My proposition was “an even playing field”, which I described in great detail.

Agreement was reached. Obviously, I would not be advertising on WWCK. I thanked both gentlemen for their time and courtesy and took my leave. I had made a large impression. I would not recognize its real importance for almost half a decade. Meanwhile, WTAC rocked-on with more restrained competition. R. Nottingham received a full report and was quite pleased.

Twenty WTAC staff members and guests journeyed with me in December to Detroit’s Cobo Hall for a spectacular performance by The WHO. It was the first time I’d seen them all since the Bristol Road Holiday Inn. They were magnificent and had set up rear stadium speakers for full multi-channel effect during their “Quadrophenia” segment. It was outstanding and I did remember to bring my smoke along.

1976 was to be the United States of America’s Bicentennial Year. Bringing it in called for special celebration. With my brother Paul and his soon-to-be wife Cindy visiting from Syracuse, we all journeyed to the new Silverdome Stadium near Pontiac. We finally all saw Elvis Presley. He was in fine voice, but his pants split during the second number and there was a brief pause required for necessary replacement. It had been twenty years and over one hundred pounds since we first heard “Heartbreak Hotel”. We watched him with sad excitement. He had been the first and wouldn’t last.

The main thing on our early WTAC 1976 agenda was a long-shot. We wanted our own Flint FM station.

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