Making Friends


The past few Editorials and last week’s Hotline have dealt with the importance of relationships in our business.  How are relationships formed?  Through life experiences.

While programming KFRC San Francisco, one of my jocks was on vacation, one was laid up drunk, another was in rehab and the one scheduled to work called in sick.  I was not happy to go on the air.  My top-of-the-hour ID went something like this:

“KFRC San Francisco, it’s eight o’clock, I’m Gerry Cagle and if there are any local promotion people listening, you should call me immediately.”

Burt Baumgartmer, then working as a local for Columbia Records, called from a hot tub.  He dried off, picked up a bottle of Tequila and came to the station to “help” me make it through the shift.  He didn’t have to call.  It would have been easier…and a lot more enjoyable for him and his girlfriend…to pretend he never heard me.  But to show my appreciation…and probably because the Tequila had begun to have its effect, I allowed him not only to play the current stiff he was working, but to introduce it on the air.  We taped the whole thing and sent it to his boss.  We’re still calling each other from the tubs.

While in San Diego, a baby deejay visited in hopes of getting a job.  I listened to his tape and said he wasn’t ready for a large market.  I advised him to try something smaller and let me know how he was progressing.  (He will tell you I told him the tape was terrible and to get out of the business.  How the story is remembered isn’t important…that the story is remembered is.)  He kept in touch.  Some will even say he got better.  Ric Lippincott wound up programming WLS Chicago and now heads up promotion at Curb.

When I was programming KHJ Los Angeles, a PD from a smaller market came by for a tour of the station.  Afterwards, we sat in my office and talked for a long time.  Scott Shannon and I still do.

While heading to a Bobby Poe convention some time ago, I missed a flight and got in too late for the golf tournament.  The local Columbia rep went out of her way to pick me up at the airport (we had never met) and get me to the hotel.  She even carried my golf bag! I still talk with Lisa Wolfe every week.

In Kansas City several years back, I found myself in a bar with Jefferson Starship and RCA’s new regional promotion person.  At two o’clock, we were singing Country songs.  At three, we were in a suite holding hands, trying to communicate through mental telepathy.  (It was a Grace Slick thing…you had to be there.)  Anyhow, Brenda Romano and I are still holding hands.

A promotion person was working me on the Go-Gos’ “Our Lips Are Sealed” at KFRC.  I wouldn’t add it.  He was relentless…he wouldn’t give up.  The record went #1 nationally and as it was coming down the charts, I added it and the new one, “We Got The Beat,” giving him the first (and possibly only) real double in history.  Michael Plen is still relentless in his pursuit of songs he believes are hits and he never fails to remind me of the one I missed.

When I was OM of WAPP New York, I inherited a music coordinator from the Midwest.  He was famous for pizzas with “evvvverything” on them.  He became PD after a few months (turnover being commonplace at my stations).  Steve Ellis and I kept in touch through his radio jobs and move into records.

When I became PD at WRKO Boston, Jim Elliot was a great deejay there.  We had only one problem: I wanted him to work Sundays and he wanted to watch football.  So we compromised.  I let him off Saturday and Sunday…and the rest of the week as well.  We parted company, but not ways. Our paths crossed often…and they still do.

I forced John Fagot to attend a Willie Nelson concert with me in New York.  John was not happy…neither, come to think of it, was Willie.  Too much booze was consumed and John couldn’t drive home.  I let him use my limo.  It was the start of a long, strange trip that continues today.

I used to visit Lake Tahoe almost weekly.  The head of promotions took care of me, always comping everything…including the best suites.  One day, Jim Parsons asked if I could help him get into the record business.  I set up an interview and he got a job, first for Zoo, and now at WORK.

I used to have Wednesday breakfasts with a manager/record executive on La Cienega Boulevard.  I still remember an insurance story he shared.  We haven’t had breakfast in while, but David Geffen has come to my rescue on more than one occasion since.

And maybe the best story is about someone you’ve never heard of.  I worked as a baby deejay with a guy named Michael Jay in Daytona Beach.  I left to program many stations in major markets. Michael never got out of Daytona Beach.  But at every stop, I got a letter or a phone call from him.  More than anything, Michael wanted a shot in a major market, but he wasn’t good enough…and he never asked. When I went to New York…I hired him.  He still wasn’t good enough, but since Ellis was the PD, how good could the station be? Michael’s selling phone books now, but because he kept up a relationship, his dream came true.

What’s the moral of all these stories?  The relationships you make…the relationships you maintain…will live with you and help shape your life and your livelihood.  Everyone one is important.

Work on them.

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