‘El Sucko Central”



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.

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