Frank’s Way


“Start spreading the news…I’m leaving today…”

In case you haven’t heard, Frank Sinatra died last week.  In the over-hyped world of journalism, the magnitude of print and television footage devoted to Frank’s  passing has gone way past overkill.  In an era where a worthless, ignorant nobody can garner national air time and newsprint just for refusing to pull over on a Los Angeles freeway, the passing of someone as monumental as Frank Sinatra seems somehow trivialized.  That’s too bad.

I find it sad that so many people are mourning Frank’s death.  There should be no tears for Frank.  We shouldn’t be sad that he’s gone on to that big band in the sky.  What we should be doing is celebrating his life.  Frank was “the kind.”

Let’s face it.  Frank wasn’t really a part of our generation.  He belonged to our parents…or grandparents.  At least, that was what we thought.  But Frank had the unique ability to transcend space and time.  The older we got…the better Frank sounded.  My grandfather loved Frank.  My daughter loves Frank.  Who am I to break the chain?

No matter how old you are, Frank Sinatra is cool…always was…always will be.

His music is timeless.  When you bring a date back to your house, dim the lights, light the fire and turn on Sinatra, it means only one thing.  You want to talk?  Turn up the Jazz.  You want to dance?  Try Disco.  You want to close the deal?  Put on Sinatra.

Frank always works

Frank lived a hedonistic lifestyle of the most outrageous order…and later had time to repent, reflect and become an elder statesman.  Who could ask for anything more?

Frank did it his way…asking no quarter and giving less.  It was his way or the highway…in business and pleasure.

Although glorified in The Godfather as part of the Mafia, it wasn’t true.  He had all of the positives without the downside.  Frank wasn’t a part of the mob.  He was the mob’s favorite singer.  How cool was that?

Much has been made of Frank’s friendship with Sammy Davis, Jr.  I don’t know how many specials I saw this weekend detailing the events surrounding Sammy’s plight and Frank’s rescue.  Most highlighted how Frank struck a huge blow for civil rights by refusing to perform at clubs that wouldn’t hire Sammy.

Those stories miss the point.  Frank wasn’t using his formidable pressure to advance the cause of civil rights.  Frank did it because Sammy Davis was his friend.  End of story.  If you liked Frank, you had to like his friends.  If you caused  one of his friends pain, Frank would be your enemy for life.  Frank didn’t care whether Sammy was black or white.  Color had no bearing on his friendship.  That says more about Frank than any civil rights message he could have delivered.

I had the good fortune to meet the man in the perfect setting…Las Vegas.  Frank was performing at Ceasars in the late ‘70s.  In  those days, when Frank headlined, high- rollers from around the world descended on Ceasars.  You couldn’t find a $5 table if your life depended on it.

I was with Wes Farrell, who was married to Frank’s daughter, Tina. After the show, Frank wanted to play blackjack.  Walking through the casino with Frank was like walking with Moses.  We were surrounded by bodyguards and the people parted like the water in the sea.  Nobody asked for autographs.  Nobody shouted, “You’re the man!”  It was if a deity was present…and indeed, one was.  The crowd was quiet and respectful.

Frank drew every ounce of energy out of that huge room.  All the focus was on him.  The dice rolled “snake-eyes” just so they could get a look.  And Frank didn’t seem to notice.  He was cool.

The three of us sat at a private table and began playing blackjack.  Frank and Wes were talking.  I didn’t say a word.  I was just happy to be there.  Unfortunately, I didn’t last long.  I was not yet 30, unseasoned in the world of finance and gambling…and way short of being cool.  I dropped the $300 in savings I brought in less than 15 minutes.

I mumbled something to Wes about just being a spectator for the rests of the evening.  Frank said,  “What’s the matter, kid? Don’t you want to play?”

I was embarrassed.  “I don’t have any more money,” I stammered.  “I’ve lost every hand.”

Frank flipped a $25 chip in front of me.  “Let’s see if this will work.”  He looked up at the dealer.  “He isn’t going to lose any more, is he, Bernie?”

I didn’t lose another hand.  I won all my money back and then some.  Frank always worked.

My other story is much less personal.  Or maybe not.  It shows how Frank’s music moves across all barriers.  Not long ago, my good friend Harry Nelson and I spent a wild Saturday night in Atlantic City.  Tapped out, blind and half-crazy, we jumped in the car at 7 am Sunday morning and headed for New York City.  We tuned in a radio station as we cruised past some tiny town.  Frank Sinatra was singing, “The Summer Wind.”

We both smiled, alone in our thoughts.  It was the perfect background to our weekend.  As the last few notes began to fade, the deejay segued into “The Core” by Eric Clapton.

I looked at Nelson.  He stared back at me.  “The Summer Wind” followed by “The Core?”  How could that work?

Five seconds later, we exchanged high-fives.  The segue was perfect.

Fore! (Part Two)

November 12, 1999

Usually, an article about golf is interesting only if you’re a player.  This Editorial, although about golf, is helpful to those who play and those who don’t.  Whether you swing a club or not, you need to be on the cutting edge of today’s terminology so you’ll be able to keep up with discussions about the sport.

Because so many of us in the industry are golfers, and because so many of us actually believe we’re good, I thought I should compile a list of record and radio terms that refer to the game.  Because we certainly play a different brand from that on tour, we must have our own descriptions of golf as we play it and say it.  We all have hit enough “fore” irons in our time.

The following terms refer to “our” game.  It’s only a beginning.  I hope you’ll contact me with more phrases that you’ve heard or invented so I can update this “primer” from time to time.

Linda Rondstadt: When you hit a ball past another in your group, as in, “That was a Linda Rondstadt.  My ball blew by you.” (Referring to her hit: Blue Bayou, for those of you who are a little slow.)

Chilliwack: When you hit a ball out of bounds, as in, “Gone, gone, gone…”

Carpenter: When you hit a ball near your partner’s, as in, “Close To You.”

Milli Vanilli: When you can’t find your ball, you wait until your opponents aren’t looking and drop another.  Since you didn’t really hit it, your partner will say, “I that a Milli Vanilli?”

U2: If you hit a ball into the rough or woods and are having trouble locating it,you tell your group to wait, you’re U2, as in, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”

Peter Gabriel: When you ask your caddy for the driver, you say, “Give me The Peter Gabriel” (“Sledgegammer”).

Eddie Floyd: When you hit a ball into the trees and it bounces off a limb, It’s an Eddie Floyd, as in “Knock On Wood.”

Queen: If you hit a ball out of bounds, drop another and hit that one out of bounds too.  The second shot is called a Queen, as in, “Another One Bites The Dust.”

Dolly Parton: A person who cheats and takes less on the card than the actual strokes.  In other words, if the person changes a “9 To 5,” it’s a Dolly Parton.

Christopher Cross: A ball hit into the water, as in “Sailing.”

A Commodore or a Tony Orlando: When a person birdies a par four, as in, “Three Times a Lady” or “Knock Three Times.”

Paul Simon: If your score for nine holes is a 50, it’s a Paul Simon, as in, “50 Ways (To Leave Your Lover).”

Silver Convention: If you hit a ball that needs more distance, it’s a Silver Convention, as in, “Fly, Robin, Fly.”

Billy Preston: If a person makes a putt that spins around the hole before dropping, it’s a Billy Preston, as in, “Will it Go ‘Round In Circles.”

Ode To Billy Joe:  When you hit a ball into a lake, It’s an Ode To Billy Joe, as in, “…dropped in the water off the Tallahatchie bridge.”

Jan And Dean:  When you hit a ball into the ocean, it’s Jan And Dean, as in, “Surf City.”

And it’s not all about famous artists or songs that make the rounds on the golf course.  If you play with enough people in your business, their personal habits become a part of golfing lore, particularly when their actions are consistent with others on our “tour.”

Here are but a few examples of people whose names have become synonymous with their routines.

A “Kid Leo” is when a person hits a ball out of bounds and immediately drops another.  To be a perfect “Kid leo,” the second ball must actually be in place before the first one crosses the out of bounds line.  Example: “He did a Kid Leo before the first one cleared the tee.”

“Fontaine” or “Morris” (for Justin and Rob) is any kind of intense whining.  Example: “He was Fontaining (Morrissing) so badly, I wanted to quit after the first nine.”

A “Louis Kaplan” is a very short backswing.

To hit an iron off a tee is to “Kilgo,” (John) as in, “I was afraid I would hit my driver in the trap so I Kilgoed.”

Anytime a new club is purchased during a round, it’s called a “Grierson” (Ross).

A “Kiely” (Dan) is when you improve your ball position in the rough.  Example: “I was in a hole so Kieleyed it.”

A “Fitzgerald” (Rich) is a person who takes a long time to explain the last shot, as in, “I don’t have time for the Fitzgerald, just tell me what club you used.”

Then there’s the famous “Gary Bird.”  When you take many strokes on a hole or pick up entirely and want to enter some kind of respectable score, you ask for a “Gary Bird,” as in “Gimme a six.”

And finally, when you hit a ball 300 yards right down the middle with a slight draw, thats a “Gerry Cagle.”

Footing The Bill


If you’re interested in an Editorial about the record or radio business, skip this one.  One of the nice things about writing an Editorial is I can choose whatever topic that interests me…and hope it will interest you.

One of the problems in writing an Editorial (other than coming up with a subject every week) is to hope that it’s topical.  I’m writing this in the midst of the Presidential sex scandal…what a great title for a book.  Whether or not this is still news by the time you read it is a crapshoot at best.

So what does the sex scandal have to do with the record and radio industry?  Substantially, very little.  But the effect on our lives and the lives of those around us can be profound…if only on a shallow level.

Bill Clinton is accused of having sex with an intern in the White House. Surprising?  Possibly.  Shocking?  Hardly.

Clinton has been accused of extramarital affairs for years, so this latest revelation is certainly not out of character.  Face it:  Our President is a dog.  Anyone who has trouble believing that can be sold the Brooklyn Bridge…twice in the same week.

What concerns me is the immediate feeding frenzy exhibited by the media.  I haven’t seen anything like this since Jaws.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not about to defend Bill clinton or his actions.  I believe anyone who cheats on his wife is morally bankrupt.  To betray that special trust and risk the emotional devastation that follows is unforgivable.  This statement comes from one who ended a marriage and jeopardized a family for exactly that same behavior.  Having said that, let me also say the behavior and outcome should be between the husband and wife.  Period.  It’s nobody else’s business.

Should we hold the President of the United States to a higher standard?  It’s an interesting question.  When polls show that a majority of the married people in the United States are unfaithful to their spouses, who is going to throw the first stone?

Did we agree to marry Bill Clinton or did we vote for him to be President?  Does our President have  to share our morals or should he just make decisions that impact favorably on our daily lives and our future?

Here are the $64 million-dollar questions:  Can a person who cannot be trusted by his wife be trustworthy to a nation?  Can a person who cheats on his wife be expected not to cheat on normal citizens with whom he has no personal relationship?  Can a person who acts immorally–when it comes to sex—be expected to act morally when it comes to questions of national security?

Is the soldier who cheated on his wife, yet gave his life to defend his country, a hero or a bum?

I don’t have the answers.

We all have our faults.  Nobody comes close to perfect.  Maybe that’s why we take such glee in torching someone who is accused of wrongdoing.  It makes us feel better.

It’s interesting, but it has been my experience that those doing the accusing are the ones who are usually guilty.  The ones who are blameless usually don’t care.  Hmmm…

Should Bill Clinton be having sex with a 21-year-old intern in the White House?  Of course not.  And, by the way, her age and job have nothing to do with it.  It’s just terrible judgement.  Is it too much to ask that Bill keep it zipped up for eight years?  Hey, we’re not insisting on a lifetime of monogamy, but for eight short years, with a country to run, can’t he just take cold showers?

Who is more stupid, Clinton or Castro?  You want that Cuban embargo lifted?  Don’t invite the Pope for a visit; bring Bill down.  Smoke some cigars…bring on the strippers.  And Hussein should stop refusing to allow Americans access to his palaces.  Bring Clinton to your house.  Have him take a hit off the nerve gas bong (he won’t inhale) and bring on the dancing girls.

But I digress…

The nation is upset because not only did Clinton possibly have a sex in the White House sans Hilary, but he lied about it.  Oh, my God.  Clinton told a lie.  Five thousand reporters are jostling for position on the White House lawn.  Talk shows are being invented to provide space for special coverage.  Newspapers are printing extra pages to interview people who might have known the girl when she was in college.

Its all about space and time.

Forgive me, but am I missing something here?  Whether Clinton had sex with someone other than his wife in the White House will have absolutely no bearing on our lives.  Whether or not he told the truth about his libido won’t make one, small change in our day-to-day lives.

This is the same guy who promised that if he was elected President, he wouldn’t raise taxes.  We voted for him…and he raised taxes.

He lied.

Where were all the reporters, talk shows and newspaper when this happened?

Forget Clinton for a second.  Our values are out of whack.  Politicians habitually lie to get elected and we wind up paying the “Bill.”  We should hold them all to higher standards about the things that affect us.  We should demand credibility on issues that will make a difference in our lives…and when they don’t, let’s see the same coverage we get when the President unzips his pants for another “non-affair.”

Maybe when we begin to demand that credibility, the land of the free won’t be so expensive to those of us who live here.

Big Shot


You went uptown riding in your limousine in your fine Park Avenue clothes.  You had the Dom Perignon in your hand and the spoon up your nose.

We work in the most seductive industry in the universe.  If you’re a record executive or a radio programmer, the world is yours…and everything that’s in it.  We dine in the most expensive restaurants, fly first class, see the opening of any Broadway show, jet away to paradises far away, drive the sportiest cars, sit in the front rows of the biggest concerts, have our pictures taken with Rock stars, hang Gold records on our walls, take stretch limos wherever we go, drink the finest wine, smoke Cuban cigars, walk the red carpet and enjoy the high life.

We live under pressure that would crush the average human.  There’s no such thing as nine-to-five in our business.  We stay until the job is finished, then start all over again.  We can’t rest on our laurels.  There’s always another rating period, another record, another opening, another show.  We work hard.  We play hard.  Why shouldn’t we enjoy the fruits of our labor?

Because some of us actually believe we deserve it.

They were all impressed with our Halston dress and the people that you knew at Elaine’s.  And the story of your latest success kept ‘em so entertained.

What’s wrong with us?  We’ve become the epitome of those we despise the most.  We’re the biggest bores on the planet…an obnoxious group of loudmouth ingrates who actually believe the hype we’re paid to spread.  We’ve been told we’re great so many times by the sycophants who surround us that we’re buying into the bullshit hook, line and sinker….not to mention the boat that was paid for by the record company.

Who are we to take pride in our shallow success?  We’re a group of mostly uneducated over-achievers who are full of sound and fury…signifying nothing.  Had we been born a hundred years earlier, we would be little more than snake oil salespeople, traveling from town to town in a covered wagon, pimping Holy water blessed by the saints of Jerusalem to the sinners who would stumble into streets to listen.

We’re the first ones to complain about our seats to the sold-out superstar concert when we should be thankful just to be there.  After all, we didn’t pay for them. We gripe about waiting in line. We’ve pissed because someone else’s name is higher on the guest list than ours.  We go ballistic at the slightest hint of indifference.

“Don’t they know who I am?”  is the biggest catch phrase of our existence.

Well, it’s no big sin to stick your two cents in if you know when to leave it alone.  But you went over the line, you couldn’t see it was time to go home.

Before you think I’m taking shots at everyone else, I use the collective “we” because I’m just as guilty as anyone…maybe more.  Okay, what if I did set the curve?  I have no patience, I refuse to be placated, I expect the best and demand the rest.

So, what’s my point?

Our behavior has become so over-the-top that simple courtesies are ignored.  We are the rudest people in the history of industry…and it needs to stop.

I can’t make people deflate their egos, act their age and stop their ignorant behavior, but I can draw one tiny line in the sand.

Bitch about your concert seats.  Whine about your lack of respect.  Cry about industry indifference.  Don’t return phone calls.  Talk ugly about others.  Brag about yourself.

But stay off the fucking cell phone when you’re spending time with me.

What kind of gall do you exhibit by going into someone’s office or sitting down for dinner only to constantly answer your cell phone as it rings away?  Nothing shows greater contempt.

Turn the thing off.  What can’t wait for a few minutes until you’re finished with a meeting?  Are you trying to show us how important you are?

We aren’t impressed.

You had to be a big shot, didn’t you?  You had to open up your mouth.  You had to be a big shot, didn’t you?  All your friends were so knocked out.  You had to have the last word, last night, so much fun to be around.  You had to have a white-hot spotlight; you had to be a big shot last night.

I once refused to play golf with anyone who carried a cell phone.  But I let it go.  A round can take five hours.  You might need to take a call…particularly if your boss thinks you’re actually working.

But do you really need to be in instant communication when you’re meeting with someone who you pretend is important?  If you can afford a cell phone, you certainly can pop for voice mail.

I can’t stop all of the boorish behavior exhibited by many semi-important posers in our business, but I will make the commitment to end the irresponsible, childish actions of the cell phone freaks.

I’ll make this open promise to the industry…and I urge you to do the same.  Take a cell phone call while you’re meeting with me and I’ll rip it out of your hand and throw it out the window.  It’s the least I can do.

That’s one small toss for good manners and one giant throw toward responsibility.

And when you wake up in the morning with your head on fire and your eyes too bloody to see, go on and cry in your coffee, but don’t come bitchin’ to me.

B. M.


The last thing I wanted to write about this week is Bill Clinton. I was determined to write about some jagged edge that was cutting through the entertainment business, but alas, the biggest story in radio and records is the President and the intern. Plus, everyone I ran into this past week said they couldn’t wait for my Editorial on the subject in Network 40.

I was doomed before I started.

It’s on the front page of every paper. Newscasts lead with it. People in supermarket lines are spouting their opinions on the subject. I went to my dentist and he played a record he had just produced called, “Oh Bill, Oh Monica.”  (That’s right…my dentist.  Don’t you just love L.A?)

I have no choice but to chime in with my two cents worth.

What does this have to do with our business? It’s about life…actually, lifestyle. And if this isn’t Mainstream lifestyle, I don’t know what is. Any radio station that isn’t doing promotions about Bill and Monica are way behind the curve. 15th caller for stained blue dresses.  Forget about Cuban cigars. What about Monicans? The Monica Lewinsky look-alike contest is a natural. Oval office kneepads and condoms? The beat goes on.

The release of the Starr Report changed my opinion, but not the way you think. I always believed Clinton was a liar. Who among us didn’t? But I was wrong. The Starr Report made me believe he was telling the truth…as strange as the may seem. Most say the report confirms Clinton as a liar. Consider the facts. During the campaign, Bill Clinton was asked if he ever smoked marijuana. He said he had smoked a joint, but didn’t inhale. Was there one person who believed that answer? Now I believe him. The Starr Report quotes Monica as saying she performed oral sex on the President…but he didn’t ejaculate. This confirms two things: Bill was telling the truth about not inhaling and he’s probably the sickest puppy among us.

What is the weird logic behind this act? If he didn’t come, it didn’t really happen? That’s like dropping bombs without warheads. They crash through buildings, but they won’t explode. What’s the point?

I give up, Bill. You wouldn’t ejaculate, yet you “penetrated her vagina” with a cigar. Did you really think Hillary would buy, “Honey, I didn’t come in her mouth, I just used a cigar dildo. That’s okay, isn’t it?”

I could pontificate for pages about whether or not Clinton’s actions are impeachable. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, that isn’t the point. The founders of our country provided an opportunity for impeachment if the President comments acts of high crimes and misdemeanors.
How about being stupid?  Shouldn’t that be first on the list?

Not only did Bill have sex with Monica, but he wrote her letters, gave her gifts and engaged in phone sex with her. It’s insane. “Yo, baby, what are you wearing?  Oh, sorry Yeltsin, I thought you were someone else.”

Clinton is a twisted, perverted dog. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I don’t think it’s asking too much to expect a little more from the leader of our country. People say that many of us have done the same and worse. True, but we didn’t run for office. Clinton could be the most twisted person in the country…right behind Monica Lewinsky.

Many called for Clinton to apologize to Monica and her family. Hey, what about an apology from Monica? This ultimate groupie has brought down the President of our country with it. She admitted that her initial “flirting” with Clinton included her showing him her thong underwear. What happened to a wink and a smile? Why not just sell tickets and start the strip show? This sleaze should have her own stage at the Mitchell Brothers.

This bar-fly not only allows her “lover” to use her most private part as an ash tray, but then shares this intimacy with a grand jury of total strangers. What’s up with that?

And now she’s been offered $2 million to pose for Penthouse. They’ll have to come up with a new centerfold. It’ll be called the “Double Wide.”

Congress is now calling for Clinton to resign or be ready for impeachment. But Bill won’t go softly into that good night. White House aides are already digging up dirt on all those who will throw the first stones. I’m sure in the very near future we’ll be reading about who likes to dress up in latex, get tied to a wheel, greased like a pig and whipped into a frenzy. And don’t be surprised if Ken Starr is first on the list. Do you really believe nobody in his past has ever told him to squeal like a pig?

Starr has done something thousands of companies have been unable to accomplish. He’s gotten more people on the Internet than all efforts up to this point combined.

But at what cost?

Washington D.C. At least we now know what the D.C. stands for: “Disappearing Cigar” or “Didn’t Come.”

I could have reduced this Editorial to the two letters that best describe Bill and Monica.


But then you would have nothing to read when you were having one.

Market Share


This past week was a good time to be poor.  Rich people lost a ton of money in the stock market last week.  LPMs might have lost a couple of dollars.  Deejays didn’t lose a dime.

It’s almost funny that the last few Editorials I’ve written concern the stock market. Until a short time ago, those in the radio and record business didn’t pay any attention to Wall Street.  Most thought the stock market was a place to look at cattle.

Unfortunately, the decline of the stock market is going to have an effect on us “little” people.  We might never be on a first name basis with a stock broker, but when the river bursts through the dam, you can bet the slaves will be called out to haul sandbags.

If you’re naive enough to believe that a bleak market isn’t going to impact your life because you don’t own stocks, perhaps you would be interested in purchasing some ocean front property in Arizona I’ve been holding.  Or maybe those Florida radio stations I own a piece of.  (Actually, the land in Arizona might be a better deal.)

The stock market, and specifically the price of radio and record companies’ stocks, drives our destiny.  When record companies were owned by individuals and radio stations by broadcast companies, the market was no more reflective of earnings than the foreign policy.  All of that has changed, Virginia.  You were right.  There is no Santa Clause.

Record companies are now owned by public conglomerates.  The worth of the company is measured by the value of the stock.  When company executives are compensated with stock options, do you really believe the new superstar album is anticipated for the cutting edge music quality?


Company executives are bonused when the stock has reached a certain point.  They’re not thrilled when the tracking graph shows a sudden dip.

What does this mean for a record company employee?  Work harder, work faster.  These words are music to a worker bee’s ear.  A month ago, the stock market was going up and we were all heroes.  Backs were getting blisters from the pats.

Thirty days later, through no fault of our own, working just as hard as before, the stock market makes a “correction” and we’re all worthless.

In a bull market, revenue drives the car.  If you must spend more to make more, so be it.  In “bare” times, expenses are all that matters.  Record companies will be charged with cutting expenditures drastically in the fourth quarter to make the bottom line look healthier.  If you’re working for a record company, expect belt tightening measures.  Your T&E budget will be cut, if not suspended.  Promotions will be curtailed.  Fly-aways will be grounded like Northwestern.

However, the record companies will weather the storm.  Record company earnings are mostly consistent and weighted fairly against the stock’s price.  Radio, however, is an altogether different ballgame.

Everyone knows radio stocks are overvalued. The only reason radio stocks have risen in the past is on the assumption that another company would pay more for the group than the last one did.  It doesn’t  take a Harvard genies to figure that out.

There is a new equation now on the board.  As the price of owning radio stations has increased, the number of potential buyers has decreased.  Radio stations have been operated to generate revenue and make the stock more attractive to another buyer.  One could easily believe that if a station is billing $10 million and spending $8 million, the potential buyer could cover the purchase price by keeping the billing high and cutting costs.

Unfortunately, there’s only so much that can be cut.

Competent broadcasters, in the business for the long haul, can operate radio stations profitably.  But if the purchase price is ridiculously high, even the best broadcaster can’t cover the nut.  When radio stations are trading at 700 times earnings, as many are, it takes an awful lot of increased billing and an equal amount of cost cutting just to break even.  What radio station today isn’t running as lean as possible?

We’ve all predicted the bursting of the big bubble.  We know that at some point in the future, the price for radio stations will drop drastically.  In a bull market, bright colors are easily painted by the most incompetent artists.  When stocks take a major dip, reality bites and those teeth are sharp.

The following example might be over simplified, but it makes the point:  A radio station that cash flows $10 million is put on the market for $200 million.  (That’s 20 times cash flow.)  For that station to meet the interest payments (forget about increasing profits) it must increase the cash flow by 20%.  That’s a lot of additional billing and major cost cutting.  This is all right, as long as another buyer is will to cough up $300 million for the next purchase.

But what if there is no buyer?  Is the scenario much different from the one learned by many in the market last week?  When telling their broker to sell, the answer was chilling.

“To who?”

Walls And Bridges


It was 20 years ago today…Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play…

More like 25, I guess, but time flies when you’re having fun.

In the space of a few short weeks, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band, or as some know them, The Beatles, will have a revival.  Not that their music ever died.  The remaining Beatles are releasing a new album on Capitol next month in conjunction with a television special.  The anticipation has already begun and will build to a fever pitch by showtime.

Who would have thought it when they were first signed? A four-piece band playing pubs in Liverpool would become the greatest musical event ever.  Nearly 30 years after their first release, The Beatles still rock.  Several of their albums go Gold every year.  Their catalogue accounts for a huge percentage of Capitol’s yearly sales.  All of this from a group that stopped recording together in 1969.

Together, John Lennon and Paul McCartney formed the most prolific songwriting team in the history of music.  Not only did they write hits, but their songs changed the face of music.  The same guys who wrote “I Want To Hold Your Hand” also wrote “A Day In The Life. “  They wrote “I Saw Her Standing There” and “Eleanor Rigby.”  Go figure.

Their recording techniques were way pas the cutting edge.  They introduced feedback, overdubbing, backward masking and a ton of other recoding innovations long before anyone else ever thought about them.  Today, studios routinely use 48-track machines.  The Beatles did all their creating on four.


I first heard The Beatles when I was in junior high school.  When I saw them on The Ed Sullivan Show, I was done.  I bought a guitar, grew my hair long and was first accused of being, what they called in the South, a juvenile delinquent.  My father called me a reprobate.  I didn’t know what it meant, but it sounded cool.

I got to meet my favorite Beatle (everyone had a favorite) some years later.  I was, coincidently, in New York at a Billboard convention.  It was about midnight and I was in bed in my room when the phone rang.  Al Coury, then VP Promotion for Capitol Records, was on the line, inviting me to the lobby for a drink.  I was programming KHJ Los Angeles at the time and I figured Al was all revved up to hammer me on the latest Anne Murray cover.  I quickly refused, citing exhaustion as a lame excuse.

Al said, “Aw, that’s too bad, Gerry. I was going to take you over to the Record Plant and introduce you to John Lennon.”

I was in the lobby in three minutes.

John Lennon, my favorite Beatle (did I already say that?), was deep, deep undercover at the time.  He was dodging extradition from the U.S. and had been hiding out in New York City.  Few had seen him in the previous years.

Standing in the lobby, waiting for a cab, I was as nervous as a schoolboy on his first date.  My breath was shallow, my heart was pounding in my chest, my face was flushed and I was using all my energy to pretend I didn’t really care.  Those emotions were minor compared to what was coming.

Al introduced me to an agitated John Lennon in the studio where they were mixing the Walls And Bridges album.  Lennon shook my hand quickly and told me to have a seat on the couch.  Al stepped outside and I sat there in a coma, listening to John argue with the engineer about how the sax should be mixed.  He wanted it high, the engineer wanted it low.  I was in heaven.

Suddenly, Lennon swung around toward me and said, “What do you think, Gerry?”

I almost wet my pants.  “Loud,” I managed.  Like I was going to disagree with John Lennon.

He clapped his hands and shouted.  “Fine then, we’ll let you mix it.”

It was the start of a long friendship.

Several months later, Paul Drew and I were discussing who would fill in for the KHJ morning man while he was on vacation.  Drew suggested asking recording stars to host.  This was long before acts appeared on Top 40 stations.  It had never been done before.

I called record companies and managers for days.  No luck.  Nobody wanted to do it.

So I called John…not to ask him.  Certainly John Lennon wouldn’t want to be a deejay, but to get his advice.

He said, “I’d love to do it.”

We spread the word that John Lennon (who hadn’t done a public appearance in years) would be on the station and everyone who had said no originally quickly changed their minds.  I had to give the morning man an extra week off to accommodate all of them.  The tapes of John’s show are unbelievable.  His appearance made national news.  Coury never forgave me for wearing a Warner Bros. jacket when NBC televised it.

The unique thing about this was that John didn’t do it for publicity or for a hidden agenda.  He did it to help a friend.

Before going on the air, he wrote me a letter listing his favorite records of all time, asking if he could play some of them.  (Like I’m going to disagree with John Lennon!)  I still have the letter.  Some people say it’s worth a lot of money.  To me, it’s priceless.

I spent a lot of time with John after that.  I was the booth when he did his famous Monday Night Football interview with Howard Cosell, was thrown out of the Troubadour with him when he put a Kotex on his head, listened for hours as he worked with Phi Spector on the Shaved Fish album and was there the night “someone” went berserk and shot up the A&M studio.  I drove him home after the incident.

It was the last time I saw him.

There are other stories to tell, but we’ve got time for that later.

This week, Hollywood Records released a tribute album of John Lennon songs entitled Working Class Hero.  It’s featured on our cover.  There’s also an interview with Lindy Goetz, the executive producer.

The album, and the season, have made me more than a little nostalgic.  Maybe it’s the full moon.  Maybe it’s the Billboard convention.  I haven’t been to one since I met John Lennon.

How could I top that?

I can’t imagine.

Write On


There’s nothing like a little vacation time in the middle of the hassle and bashing of our everyday lives to put it all in perspective.  A condo on the beach in Maui with no telephone can give you the time and opportunity to let you know what’s really important.

Let’s face it.  We all want enough money to be able to say, “the hell with it” and take off for people and places unknown.  Just give me enough “fuck you” cash and I’m there, bud.

Of course, the question is: How much money is enough?  Unfortunately, the answer is always:  A little more than we have right now.

But we can all dream, can’t we?  We can dream about telling the boss to “take this job and shove it.”  We can close our eyes and imagine a scenario where we walk off into the sunset and never have to deal with anyone in this industry again.  We could live quite comfortably with our toes in the sand, our face toward the sun, an ocean breeze wafting across our shoulders as breakers crash just off-shore, the sweet smell of suntan lotion blending with the tropical fragrances of the island flowers, a rum-and-pineapple drink only inches away from our fingers and a beautiful loved one to anticipate our every need.

Makes you want to take off right now, doesn’t it?  The problem is, like me, you’ll have to come back.

For five glorious days and nights, I had most of the above.  But toward the end of my quick Maui vacation, I experienced a vague, uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach.  Was I missing those screaming phone calls from some client whose name had been misspelled?  Was it a feeling of removal since no programmer had refused to take my call because we had listed his call letters in the Overnight Request fax with the wrong logo?  Could it have been a longing for a promotion executive who wanted to scream in my ear just to hear his own voice bounce off the walls?

Actually, it was none of that.  I had just sucked down too much rum, bruddah.

Any vacation will take away your troubles (for a short time) and clear your mind (for a shorter time).  But a vacation to Maui is something special.  I returned feeling (and looking) tanned, rested and ready. It took only a minute to become tuned, wrestled and wretched.

The first message was from a consultant who I had promised to overnight last week’s magazine.  He didn’t get it. The second call was from a Sr. VP Promotion who I had promised a picture on Page 6.  It didn’t run.  The third was someone bitching about last week’s Editorial.  I didn’t even remember what I had written.

The overnight delivery of the magazine I blamed on Josie.  The screw-up with Page 6 I blamed on Jeff.  The dissatisfaction with the Editorial just pissed me off.


It had nothing to do with the Editorial itself, so don’t bother finding it to see if you agree or not.  It is about the general audacity of many of my peers who insist on whining about everything and doing nothing about anything.

For those of you who don’t know what an Editorial is, let me try and put it to you in a way you can understand:  An Editorial is an opinion.  That’s all.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Editorials in publications across the country don’t even have to deal in fact.  (Certainly not at Network 40.  We try and never let facts get in the way of a really good idea!)  Editorials are usually one person’s thoughts on one particular subject.  At Network 40, I write most of the Editorials so most of the opinions are mine.

The person who disagreed with the Editorial didn’t upset me.  It was the question, “Why did your write this thing?”

Does the answer, “Because I can,” ring a bell? A better, unasked question was, “Who the hell read it to you?”

Editorials should be controversial.  Editorials should cause readers to stop and consider.  Editorials should cause people to agree and disagree.  That’s why Editorials are written.

So, it wasn’t this guy’s opinion that pissed me off; it was his unwillingness to share his opinion with anyone except me that got me off that euphoric “Maui Wowie” ride in a hurry.

I welcome your agreement with my Editorials.  I welcome your disagreements.  I most welcome dialogue these Editorials cause.  Whether you agree or disagree with the opinion, it’s the conversations that arise from the Editorial that makes the time and writing all worthwhile.

However, there are more opinions out there than mine alone.  True, much of the information in most of the Editorials I write comes from conversations with others.  Still, the opinions are mine.  It was never the goal of this Editorial page for these opinions to be written exclusively by me.  Network 40 is biased.  We want to share opinions, problems and solutions with those in our industry so we can make jobs easier and people more productive.  I particularly welcome those who wish to espouse their philosophy.  It means I don’t have to write an Editorial that week!

If you have an idea, a belief, an opinion or a bitch, do what we ask our radio listeners to do:  Write it down.  You write it, we’ll run it.  Then I can take the week off and you can get your share of the accolades on how smart you are…and all of the grief.

There are too many in our business with opinions who refuse to take a stand.  It’s easier to criticize people for attempting something you’ve never done.  We all have specific opinions.  We all have loud voices.  We are quick to critique others.  Yet we all want a shield of deniability.

“I didn’t say that.  It was someone who looked and sounded like me.  But it wasn’t me.  Maybe it was my brother!”

I have never met more people of intelligence with more opinions about different aspects of our business who absolutely, positively refuse to have their name associated with their beliefs.


Yet in a twisted, satirical way, one that works.  Especially for me.  If more of you wrote your opinions for publication, where would that leave me?

Out of work.

But living in Maui!

Y’all Come


Back at the Gavin again…back where the heartburn begins…elevators, escalators fat-back and fried green tomatoes…back at the Gavin again.

The Gavin convention in Atlanta.  I don’t know, call me crazy, but somehow it just doesn’t ring true.  I’m the last person to hold on to the past and talk about “the good old days,” but somehow, a Gavin convention outside of San Francisco just doesn’t hold the same excitement and romance of San Francisco.

That’s even stranger coming from me, because I’m one of the few people in the civilized world who doesn’t list The City By The Bay as one of their favorites.  Too windy, too cold and too hard to figure just who’s what for my lifestyle, I guess.

But a Gavin convention anywhere except San Francisco seems like a blind duck in a goldfish pond.  Literally speaking, it fits…but it just doesn’t feel right.

You shouldn’t listen to me anyhow.  I’m not particularly fond of Atlanta, mass groups of people and conventions in general…except for The Network Magazine Group’s 1997 convention, but that’s another Editorial and another year.  So let me not digress any further.

For those of you who have never attended a convention…and for those of you who have and need a few reminders…let me brush off a few “convention tips” that will make your long weekend in Hotlanta easier.  And if I don’t accomplish that, maybe some of the etiquette tips will, at least, allow those around you to have a nicer time.

You’re In The South, Boys And Girls: You’ve heard all about the New South?  Forget it.  Best to prepare for the worst and accept the best.  You’ve never experienced anything quite like true Southern hospitality, but you must repay in kind or be branded a Yankee Carpetbagger and risk being tarred, feathered and run out of town on a rail.  Refer to every male who might be the least bit older than you as “suh…as in, “yes, suh.” Every women…regardless of age…is “Ma’am.”  Of course, all groups are “ya’ll.”  We’re big on tipping hats and opening doors in the South.  And “Thank You” is a very big deal.  No matter whether it’s a waiter, the man who shines your shoes (we’re also big on shiny shoes in the South), cab drivers or drunks, always say, “Thank You.”

When Did You Get In? Please …please…don’t use this worthless expression.  What do you care when people got in?  They’re here now, aren’t they?   Isn’t that all that matters?  If people ask you, “When did you get in?” it means they could care less about who or what you are.  It’s small talk at its worst.  If people ask you this lame question, immediately stick a fork deep into their right eye.  Then, as you’re waiting for the ambulance, you’ll have something to talk about.

The “More Important” Stare:  This is a symptom of entertainment industry conventions.  It happens when you begin talking with people and they gaze over your head or shoulder as they search the room for someone more important.  Don’t do it.  If you’re cornered by dweebs you really can’t stand, spend a few seconds in conversation, look at them, then excuse yourself.  You’ll be a better person for it and so will they.  If you are having a conversation in the lobby or a party with people who do this to you, immediately stick a fork in their left eye.  This will prevent them from looking at anyone until the ambulance arrives.

Topless Bars:  Can we all show a little class and not go to any of them?  Okay, so I went a little over the line.  But be careful.  In the topless bars of underground Atlanta, you can lose a lot more than dollar bills.

Miz Rudolph:  It’s one of the myths about Atlanta that happens to be true.  Miz Rudolph runs an after-hours club that knows no equal.  Few know the exact location of this combination juke joint/fortune-telling/opium den and fewer still are invited.  If you are lucky enough to get to see Miz Rudolph up close and personal, remember these words of the wise:  Do not stare at the tattoo on her left breast; do not pet the three legged monkey and watch out for Toodlums with little baby feet!

Cabs:  Atlanta is no place to walk.  Bring plenty of cab money.  You’re going to need it.  Almost everything is a cab ride away and most of these rides are expensive.  However, the great thing about cab drivers in Atlanta is that most all of them speak English…with a twang, of course

The Most Popular Question:  That would be, “Have you seen Sholin?”  Relax.  Everyone will eventually see The Duke.  If you’re lucky, he’ll even pretend he’s glad you found him.

You’re Going To Be Late:  The Atlanta airport is the worst in the country for flights leaving and arriving on time.  This is because it’s Delta Airlines’ hub…or that’s their excuse anyhow.  Every flight goes through Atlanta, so yours is going to be late arriving or leaving or both.  Deal with it.  Take the time to have some Southern Valium (a.k.a. Jack Daniels whiskey).  There’s a saying in the south:  “If you die and go to hell, you’ll have a layover in Atlanta.”  Pray the weather is nice.  The good folks of the South have this thing about snow:  They like to watch it, not clean it up.  If it sleets, we’re all out of luck.

The Davenport Comet:  It has been a while since we’ve witnessed this phenomenon.  If you’re up late in the lobby, you may get to see a rare appearance.  If you think you’re hallucinating because you see a naked man running across the room trailing a flaming roll of toilet paper, don’t freak out.  It’s not an uncommon sight in this part of the country.

Emergency Phrase:  This is in case you’re caught in a restaurant without a reservation or have to wait in line for something else.  Valerie DeLong (of the Atlanta High School Homecoming Queen family) has some clout. “Ya’ll know Val?” can work.  Try it.  Don’t mention John Fagot.  They’re still not sure about him.

Real Emergency Phrase:  If you wind up in a bar full of mean-looking rednecks who begin giving you the chicken-eye, you’ve got only one chance. Grab a long-neck, knock back about half of it, slam the bottle on the bar and yell, “How ‘bout them Dawgs!”  Don’t make me try and explain it, just trust me.

Enjoy the Southern hospitality.  Drink a mint julep, order plenty of fried chicken and mashed potatoes and don’t forget to smile when they say:

“Ya’ll come back now, you heah?”



I have nothing to write about.  It happens that way sometimes.  It’s like when you’re on the air and you have nothing to say.  The only difference is that as a deejay, you can just roll the music.  I think it was rule number two in the infamous RKO playing book: “If you can’t say anything, don’t say anything.”  Of course, not all jocks have read the playbook.  I hear a lot of personalities rambling on with no rhyme or reason.  I fear that’s what I’ll be doing. Here.  Feel free to stop reading at any time.  I’m just filling space.

I started to write about all the rumors that are running rampant through the record industry at the present time.  But since I hate rumors, I figured that if I wrote about them, I would only be fostering a position I abhor.  Besides, there’s no way I could write about rumors without pissing someone off and during my career, I’ve always tried to take the high road and not make anyone angry.  Sure.

Did I say I hated rumors?  That isn’t exactly true.  Not true at all, as a matter of fact.  Every person in our industry will say that they hate rumors.  What they mean is that they hate rumors about them or their company.  Everyone loves rumors about the competition.  We’re quick to spread them.  And just as quick to get angry if anyone has the gall to spread something about us.

Unfortunately, we are in an industry that thrives on innuendos, half-truths and outright lies.  That’s why Page 6 is so successful (and the pictures we run!).  And in our business, more often than not, many of the rumors have a way of turning into fact.

Interesting proposition, huh?

I could have written about the stock market.  About how everyone I know has been on this wild ride as the market has set new records almost daily.  Of course, I haven’t been a part of it.  I sold my stock just before the roof blew off.  Now I’m afraid to get back in.  It’s like standing at a crap table when a shooter gets on an incredible role.  You weren’t in at the beginning and you know as soon as you make a bet, he’ll seven-out.

I bought a house instead.  I could have written about that, but I’ve been writing so many checks for the house that I don’t want to write anything else about it.  I started to write about my girlfriend.  It would have been an invasion of her privacy, but, what the hell, I needed something.  I could write about the time we spend together, the tenderness we share, the fun we have, all of the things that happen in a relationship.

But I don’t have a girlfriend.

I could have written about cruising Sunset Boulevard after midnight, searching desperately for a street-walker to chat with, but someone beat me to it.

I could have written about what I’ve been hearing on the radio.  It’s almost depressing.  The absolute lack of excitement on the dial these days does not bode well for the future of our industry.  When will someone in Top 40 step to the front of the milling masses and create a truly, full-service radio station?  When will jocks stop reading the same old liners and share something to make the audience want to listen?  How long will we stay on that 10-in-a-row format, thinking it’s the be-all and end-all?

I could pose some more questions.  Why is the art of counter-programming a lost one? If your competitor is playing 10-in-a-row and stopping at :40 and :50, why should your station do the same?  If your competitor stops at :40, why aren’t you sweeping music? That’s the way to have your competitor’s audience sample your station.  If you’re playing commercials at the same times as your competitor, you give the audience the perception that you’re doing the same thing.  It’s another rule in the RKO handbook that to beat the number one station in your market, you can’t be just as good… you have to be much better.  Copying a competitor’s clock isn’t better…it’s the same.

It seems the term “innovative” had been deleted from many programmers’ dictionaries.

I thought about sharing my insight on the O.J. trail, but a quick glance at the magazine racks in the check-out line at the grocery store shows me all the angles have been covered.  Besides, I don’t watch the trial on television anymore.  I’m too busy coming up with editorial topics.

I could preach the virtues of all of the “smaller” radio stations R&B doesn’t think worthy of reporting status, but we do that every week throughout Network 40 anyhow.

I thought seriously about letting someone else write this column this week.  I know WPLJ’s Mike Preston thinks someone else writes it every week.  After this weak effort, I’m sure he now knows I write it.  I should have had him do this one.

It would have been a natural to write about my passion for golf.  I could have told you about driving the green at the par four or the three-iron second shot I hit to within six feet on the par five 18th last weekend.  But I missed both eagle putts, so why bother?  Besides, there are way too many people in our industry playing golf already.  It’s hard enough to find a tee time.  I don’t need to give any others the thought that they should take up the game.

Someone told me I write beautiful memorial columns.  He was just sad that I’ve had to write so many.  So am I.  I’m glad I didn’t have to do one of those this week.  Is it too much to ask that I never have to do another?

I could have written about the Conclave gathering last week, but I didn’t go.  I know that hasn’t stopped me in the past, but his week is different.

What about the future?

I can’t think about the future right now.  I’m having enough trouble with the present.  At least I’m not worrying about the past.  Am I?

I could write about paranoia, but I’m not paranoid.  Am I?  What have you heard?

So what do you write about when you have nothing to say?


But I told you that at the beginning of this column.  At least I didn’t lie.  I said you could stop reading at any time.  You made the choice to continue.

If you’re still reading, you’ve got way too much time on your hands.