“Sunday Sixties”

Roy "Roy Boy" Guidry 1945-2009

Roy "Roy Boy" Guidry 1945-2009

CHAPTER SIXTY-THREE
SUNDAY SIXTIES

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

4 Responses to ““Sunday Sixties””

  1. eddiestack Says:

    Great stuff Peter, you’re a very good storyteller…I love to see all the Irish names peppered in your stories. We’re a massive diaspora! I’ll put uou on my blogroll.

    eddie stack

    ballylara.wordpress.com

  2. Dave Isham Says:

    I grew up on CK105 fm… love the article!! Would like more! (photos/stories/etc)

  3. Royboy's daughter Says:

    I appreciate you sharing this story in a blog. I am sure my daddy would approve of it. If you have any other pictures of him, could you post them or e-mail them to me? Thanks.

    • petercavanaugh Says:

      Your Daddy was a great friend and a terrific gentleman. If a few other pictures turn up, I’ll be sure to pass them along. I could always count on Roy, no matter what.

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