here’s more on the Bob Collins “audition” at WGN Chicago and its aftermath.
Bob wanted me to drive down from Milwaukee (we both were at WRIT-AM-FM there) on a Saturday morning for the WGN interview.
I declined...thinking he’d be better off alone making his impression.
Of course I regretted that for years...as I might have at least met important managers there and I might have gotten my foot in the door too.
Bob said they talked with him and then sat him in an empty studio with some headphones and told him several calls would be made to him and he would be acting as a host of a show. They had two or three staffers calling in with comments or questions and Bob said he felt he was ok but it was touch and go since talk was not really his thing.
Within a month...Bob was working for WGN.
I had left to return to Northern Illinois to run for the Illinois Senate.
I drove down to have dinner with him a few months after he took over an afternoon slot on WGN
After we ordered and had a drink in hand to celebrate his success (still to come would be replacing Wally Phillips) he got very serious and said:
“Stan...I’m not gonna tell you how much money I’m making! You wouldn’t believe me anyway. I never even dreamed we could make this kind of money in radio!”
I just took it all in...especially because he was dead set on making a serious point about it.
And he hadn’t even replaced Wally in am drive yet!
I can’t even guess at what kind of deal he got then!
Let me put this in a framework you can understand.
WGN was for years during that time the highest billing radio station in the world!
They had the listeners...starting with the females and Wally in the morning and then...they had (and still have) the Cubs and to have the Cubs broadcast in Chicago is like printing your own money!
So...whatever they paid Bob I’m sure of two things. It was huge and he was worth every dime!
I still think of that damn small plane going down in the suburbs...and I flinch because this was a guy who had the whole radio world ahead of him for years to come.
It was tragic...but also...just a shame. But then again he could have crashed that fancy motorcycle he had out in Phoenix...so we are all vulnerable one way or another. I myself think it’s a miracle I came back from that Cambodia trek where we were passing enemy soldiers marching along the road we were taking.