Adam was "Bob Franklin" at WIOI, 1958Email Adam - email@example.com
Getting a Job at WIOI
When WSRS in Cleveland Heights was sold in 1958, there were no jobs open in Cleveland. In 1957 I had quit my job at SRS to do some vacation work at WITH in Baltimore, and late that summer at WJW back in Cleveland. The job at WITH was one I couldn't pass up - going from a 250 Watt station that very few people listened to, to a 250 Watt station that almost everyone listened to. I had been hired back at SRS in November of '57 and worked there through the middle of 1958.
At the end of '58 I took a job at a new station in Portsmouth, Ohio, down on the Ohio River across from Kentucky. WIOI was a 1KW daytimer at 1010 on the dial. The owner of the station was an engineer from Florida named Jim Sinyard. Jim made his money building stations for as little as possible, hiring medium or large market jocks that were willing to go to a small market for real good money, building up the ratings real high, and then selling the station quick at a big profit. So many guys were doing this, that a few years later the FCC passed laws against it (Of course, now you can do anything you want and nobody cares - FCC, owners, or LISTENERS.)
Going to Portsmouth was a big, big change for me. Formula Radio was rearing its no talent ugly head all over the country. It poked its nose into a farmyard in South Shore, Kentucky - where WIOI's transmitter and studios were built. Formula Radio was full of lots of jingles, sound effects, and contests, which made it very hard to squeeze in any personality. As I said, the station was built as cheap as possible - a small cinder block building with equipment from Radio Shack - really! Well to be fair, they did have a Collins control board and a Collins transmitter (only because Radio Shack didn't make them.)
At that time there was no such thing as a cart machine. So all the jingles and spots and promos were on little five-minute reels of tape. You had to cue them up on Realistic playback machines that were always breaking down, play the spot or whatever it was, rewind it while another one was playing (some only lasted a few seconds), file the tape on a big peg board, find a record, do an intro, play the record (which was 2 1/2 minutes or less, which all rock & roll records were in those days), log your spots - both start and stop times. And start all over again. When your spot load is 20 minutes an hour or more (you can sell a lot at a buck apiece!) it is really high pressure. I had never worked at a station like that. On the first day WIOI went on the air, I had a total meltdown. I had been working 18-hour days for weeks. I went on the air and just fell apart; my nerves were shot and I was exhausted. The guy who was the PD (I can't remember his name) calmed me down, took over on the air for a few minutes, and then walked me through my first hour on the air. I got the hang of it very quickly and in a few days was bopping right along. I'm really sorry I can't remember that PD's name; he saved my job.
Most of my memories of WIOI, Portsmouth, Ohio, and South Shore, Kentucky, are not about being on the air (that was mostly fast-paced monotony) but about the people I met. I lived in a house on one of the main streets of South Shore. Across the street was a general store called Radcliff's (I think.) It had a pot-bellied stove (to match the customers) and an early Hooterville decor. But the people I met in there were nice. There was a woman who lived across from me on the other side who looked like Una Merkel. She would peek at me through her curtains when I came home at night. Once I yelled very loud, "Yeah, it's me, and I'm late again!" South Shore's Police Department was an old guy named Levi (I think.) If I remember right, he was very tall and had wrists up to his armpits. There was a rumor going around that he had pulled his gun on a man in front of the Farmers and Mechanics Bank for tearing up a 25-cent parking ticket.
I stayed away from Levi.
- Adam Jones