Tuesday, November 19, 2013

down the street & back on the air on air!

     It’s an ill wind...

America’s first live all night network show "The Stan Major Show" was doing well thru most of 1992.  The station list was pushing 100 and the ad money was coming in on time. No Art Bell yet to bother me.
Things seem to be okay but I noticed the sales staff was thinning out...and Willis Carto was plagued with legal problems and bad publicity.  I didn’t see any more signs of the IPO on Wall Street.
There was talk of another national network that had popped up only a few blocks away in Clearwater.  This one was evidentially owned by Sonny Block a money man who had a show on WOR New York City which, of course was also carried on  his network...called the Independent Radio Network.  Doug Stephan was holding fort doing the morning drive program out of his Boston studio and most of the other shows were by ISDN (fancy phone setups) from around the country.
We passed the summer well and as the hurricane season started I kept my eyes focused on the Atlantic and Miami because of my family still living in the Ft. Lauderdale area.
In August Hurricane Andrew formed and was due to hit south Florida in a few days...so I arranged to return there to be with the family just in case.  We went to taped shows and I left for home.
I didn’t know it but that was my last show on the Sun Radio Network.  Carto had apparently ordered a huge cutback in expenses that I didn’t know about and my show was involved.
As we readied for Hurricane Andrew which looked pretty bad (it was) I gave all my attention to the family and the on coming storm.
It hit the southern edges of Miami near Homestead and wrecked havoc all over.
In the middle of the night I thought I’d call the network just to check in and was surprised that our news director was doing a show live because of the storm.  I talked to the board operator and waited to go on the air and they went to a commercial break and off the air the news guy came on and said he couldn’t put me on the air.
“What the hell do you mean you can’t put me on the air!”
“I can’t”...he replied.  “You’ll have to talk to Wardino tomorrow.”
That’s when I realized I had been fired.  The next day he came on the phone and explained the financial problems and that was it.
By that time the storm had abated somewhat and I told Laurie what had transpired in Clearwater and said I had to return immediately and switch to Sonny Block’s network...that day if possible.
Needless to say it was a bitch driving from Ft. Lauderdale to the Tampa area with loads of drivers on the road but actually most had fled south Florida a few days before so I got up there ok.
I stopped at Sonny’s network, called IBN first before going to Sun.
I met with the general manager there who was astounded at what Sun had done.  
“How many stations do you have” he exclaimed.
I told him about 100 and listed the main affiliates KVI Seattle, WWRC Washington DC, WGNU St. Louis, WBZT West Palm Beach, WERE Cleveland, WXYT Detroit, KLIF Dallas, KXAM Phoenix etc etc.
He got Sonny Block on the phone and we had a three way conversation wrapping up a deal. 
They took a station list I had in the car and went right to work calling.  I would go on the Independent Radio Network, IBN at midnight that night....live until Doug’s show at 6AM.
I drove over to Sun...saw no one important in the building and packed my opening theme a some other carts of comedy stuff and albums of the same and cleaned out my desk.
That was it.
Doug Stephan was ecstatic. He called shortly after I arrived back in the new studios...and said with my list of stations and his current list...we should do really well right off the bat. We did.
I got most of my stations on the air that night or within the next couple of days.  All they had to do was figure the new satellite connections and all seemed just the same.
There were some casualties.  KVI in Seattle refused to pick me up...they were pissed because of no notice was given to them of the change.  There were a few other stations but nothing of significance because there was no place else for them to go for live all night national talk.
Sadly I lost Oreck in the process.  The woman in charge at Oreck in New Orleans was upset at the quick switch and they would never advertise with me again. Himmel and Gold Bond was no problem.  Nick Conforti wanted to see the new station list before the next buy but it looked good and he was happy. Pine Plus remained loyal as did most of the other accounts. 
        Sonny and I made a verbal commitment that I could keep 100 percent of all moneys I had sold on the show...but if the network got me ads I would have to split that 50-50.
This was all in all a good deal and I would be on this network for the next two years!
The old saying was valid:
“It’s an ill wind that blows no good”!
        There was one other loss.  Jade.  Sun had a local station in Tampa Bay which she listened too...but IBN did not.  She couldn't find the show anymore on her radio. I would be picking up several good stations that she could hear including a big one in Tampa...but not for awhile.  I and my listeners missed Jade's calls. I never heard from her again.


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