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Creamed Corn and the Old Watts Line
What am I doing up at three in the morning? Well, I just had a dream that Will Rogers met Glenn Beck and beat the hell out of him! I laughed so hard I woke up my wife, and she said, "Go be weird in the living room."
You remember last time, it was 1962 and I was doing mornings at WINN and doing some part time work at WAKY. By then the word was out that Glenn Harmon had sold WINN to Garvis Kincaid (not sure of spelling) who owned an insurance company and was going to change it into a country music station. We were told there was going to be a staff meeting in the boss's office. We all showed up! They even put a tape on the air so Bob Lyons could be there. Glenn stated a big long speech about how as a young man he was so poor he had to play records door-to-door (or some such thing.) After about ten minutes, my earlobes were falling asleep so I raised my hand and said, "Why don't you just tell us that you've sold the station to that guy whose name I can't spell, and we'll all go home!" He did, and we did.
The next morning as I was doing "Up and Adam," and wondering where Adam was going to be up at next, I pulled one on Dean Michaels. Every morning after Dean started his newscast I would walk out of the studio, get a cup of coffee, and practice playing Rhapsody in Blue on my armpit (in the 60's I learned the theme from Hair.) On this morning, Dean glanced up as I left, but then I got down on all fours and crawled back in the studio and around and behind the standup control board so he didn't see me come back in. Well, when it came time for the spot, Dean didn't see me, so he read another story, then another. Finally in an effort to teach me a lesson, he said, "We'll be back after this word." Then all he could see was my hand coming up and pushing the cart button. That did it – he went up, and I could hear him laughing through the window. At the end of the spot he was still laughing and had trouble making it through the weather.
At Glenn's meeting, he told us that when the new management took over, there would be no change of personnel. Now anyone who would believe that would believe J. Edgar Hoover wore a size 4. Back in the 1960's when the FCC gave a KRAP (AM and FM) what radio was doing, it took five or six months for a sale to become final. Lots of time to find another gig.
At that time WAKY was owned by LIN Broadcasting (later LIN Media.) This company was owned by Fred Greg (I think.) They had bought WAKY in Louisville, WMAK in Nashville, and KEEL in Shreveport from Gordon McLendon. There was a rumor going around that some of the money came from the Stark Headache Powder people in KC (buying radio stations with headache money is like Preparation-H buying Fox News.)
I got a call from WMAK asking me to come down to Nashville for a talk. In those days the airline industry was a mail-dominated business, so you could fly short hops to almost anywhere. Flying DC-3's was fun. On this day the stewardess was wearing a parachute and the pilot had his pants held up with St. Christopher medals.
The talk around Louisville was that LIN Broadcasting was about to buy a sleepy old 50 KW in Little Rock, AR. So, I thought that's what they wanted to talk about. When we got to Nashville and I was leaving the plane, I could hear the crew singing the "Passengers will please refrain" song (Look out below!) At WMAK I met Fred Greg for the first time. However, I remembered him from when I worked in southrern Ohio and he owned a hillbilly coffee pot somewhere around Ashland, KY, I think. I told him I had worked in Portsmouth at WIOI and he said, "Oh, yes, that was a nice little station." I almost said, "So was yours," but I didn't want to lie. Anyway, I was looking for a job.
The interview started off well. He said he had heard about the fun and games I was having at WAKY and WINN, and that the all-night show at his new rock and roll station in Little Rock would be a big break for me. "With 50KW you'd be heard all over the south," he said. Now when I first started in radio I learned two things. One – Never buy creamed corn at the railroad salvage, and Two – Be careful of guys who confuse big transmitters with good paychecks. "You could be another John R.," he went on. After a few more minutes of how with his 50 thousand watts and my talent I would be a big star, he was ready to talk money. I was thinking about a grand a month. He wanted to pay about half of that which was what I was making in Louisville. Not wanting to trade mint juleps for water hoses (Little Rock in 1962) I said No Thanks and left for the airport. If I had looked in his secretary's drawers on the way out, I'll bet I would have found a can of corn with a dent in it.
A few months later I heard that LIN Broadcasting wanted to change the call letters of the Little Rock station to KAKY, but since that means poopie in Spanish and it can be heard south of the border, the FCC said no. So they took KAAY.
- Adam Jones