JF: Here we go. This is Friday, January 17, 2014, I believe. It is a snowy,cold, but beautiful day here in Louisville, Kentucky. We are on the fourth floor of the uh Ekstrom Library, and we are recording an oral history of WHAS. I have with me Jerry David Melloy. Jerry, say hi to everybody.
JM: I everybody.
JF: Jerry, we've already recorded Jerry, and uh infamous or famous, I'm sorry,morning man Wayne Perkey.
WP: I will hear from my mother. (laughs)
JF: And we are pleased to be talking not here in cold, snowy, Louisville, but Ihope sunny and warm San Antonio, Texas, a person who had a strong influence on WHAS. Uh, highly respected and highly successful radio career, Hugh Barr. Hi Hugh, how are you today.
HB: I am doing great. I am so delighted to be with you guys, and yes, it issunny. You know, I I finally settled in San Antonio by choice, and after coming 1:00down here from Syracuse where the skies were gray and cloudy and every day I was I'd get up here, and the skies are blue and like right now, it's blue and 70 degrees---
JF: Oh, my goodness.
HB: ---it's just uh, you know it's lovely, I can run out and get the newspaperand in a tee shirt.
JF: Well, if we had the budget we would be doing this there on the River Walk,I'll tell you.
JF: Hey, Hugh, you know we are going to talk about how you got connected withHAS and your time there. But I want to talk a little bit on how it lead up to that, but also, I was searching the internet, and I ran across a Utube video of some guys who also hold you in high respect. Evidently when you left or resigned or retired from Cox Radio there in San Antonio as president and general manager, there was a group of people who called themselves The Cox Men from Cox radio, and they did a a series of tributes songs called The Hugh Songs. And they were We Love Hugh, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, We'll Still Love Hugh Tomorrow and That's What I 2:00Like about Hugh, and so those kind of things were that was obviously evident throughout your career, because the guys here if we'd been ingenious enough and talented enough we would have done the same thing.
JF: But tell us about how you uh where are you originally from. Where was homefor you.
HB: Actually home was my dad was uh, Chair of the Math Department in theUniversity of Wyoming, In Laramie, small little town. And uh by virtue of coming up through an academic family my first thought was going into school. I was going, uh, I started in Trade Law, I didn't know where I'd do that or be a doctor, or kind of the usual, traditional something or other. And uh, got involved in uh, doing a little drama and doing some speech, and in those days um, anything having to do with communications basically was under the Speech Department umbrella, and uh that wooed me into that side of the biz, and uh, I 3:00spent a couple of years there at the University of Wyoming, and uh the last couple of years at the University of Miami in Florida, and I never could really go back to adjust to Laramie, again after uh---
JF: I'm sure that's true.
JF: What year what years was this just for our historical purpose. These werewhat years, Hugh?
HB: It you're sure this is not for some prurient (laughs)---
JF: (laughs) Oh man I was just inches from a clean get-a-way. I thought---
HB: ---I graduated in '57, and it shocks me when I say the number. It just seemsso unreal.
JF: ---believe me we all understand here. (all laugh)
HB: In those days nobody at the University level was doing much in radio or tv.There were a few schools, UCLA, Northwestern, CCNY, and the University of Miami, 4:00but the other schools were all doing gradual graduate level stuff that I wanted, and Miami had it available as an undergrad course, so basically that's how I wind up in Miami, no great magic to it. Did the usual routine following school; did a little part time back in my old home town---
JF: Were you announcing? Were you announcing or program director?
HB: ---no, I at this point I was a young and struggling jock who thought I wasgoing to be the most spectacular jock in the world, of course. And so that was a little town called in Laramie a little station called KOWB, Cowboy Radio, actually owned by Curt Gowdy, a name you guys---
JF: Yes, yes.
JF: A sports caster.
HB: Yes, yes, and after that of course I had a little tour in the service, and5:00left that in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Worked at a radio tv outfit there for a little while. Somebody thought I should come back to Wyoming, and which I did. I came up to Casper, Wyoming, for, I think a couple of years, and then somebody thought maybe I should join them over in Salt Lake City market at a little town at Ogden, a at that point it was a big station. It was KLO, I mean three letter call letter call letter was pretty exciting to me as a kid in those days.
JF: Sure, yeah.
HB: And uh, in the mean time they had gone a little nuts, and um, gave me the PDhat. So I was had been the PD for several years, and um, knew it was time, frankly, to be leaving where I was, and somebody clued me that um, that the 6:00father ship there, the mother lode in Louisville was looking for a Program Director. So I started a process of communication. You guys may remember the names George Walsh.
HB, WP, JDM: Sure. Yes.
HB: Uh, who actually was the guy I communicated with. This went on for some timewith tons of tapes and, as I found out later, they did uh a whole personal investigation of me. Talked to all my neighbors. I mean it was like, you know, a National Security Background check.
JF: This was the Binghams. The Binghams stilled owned it then. The Binghams wereinvolved, then.
HB: Yes, and Dick Sholis was a, another name you guys may remember.
HB: But, was actually was running the joint at that point. And I came down, anduh we had a nice day together, talked and chatted. And about two months later, 7:00after some intervening communication, I got a phone call and came down to WHAS and as program director, and I just was elated, of course.
JF: What year was that, Hugh, do you recall what year that was?
HB: Uh, that would have been, uh, ---
HB: ---I could have said, yeah, '67, '68 in there.
JF: Were they---
HB: In the '70's.
JF: Were they still operating in the Courier Journal, or were they in the newbuilding at that time?
HB: No, they had just moved into the new building. It was less than a year old,as I recall. I thought I had moved to Valhalla place, of course, it really was. It was pretty outstanding facility. And, yeah, that was that was great. In fact, uh, George Walsh, and of moving there meant that okay, Barr, you are now off the air because that's just how it was done. The program director at HAS had an 8:00office, had a secretary. I had never had a secretary before. I thought what the heck am I going to do with a secretary. (all laugh) And uh, you guys may remember Vicky Burger, who was uh, a receptionist, and George Walsh had uh, you have to bear in mind the era in which he said this, okay? It's the gal of your choice. You know you probably wouldn't use that language today, or you would be burned some way.
HB: But, after a couple of weeks I wondered you know how on earth I had evergotten along without a secretary; of course, now that would be an admin assistant, but uh that was great. Then uh, you know then we started in, and you guys were such a major part of all that.
JF: Hugh, what was it like when you came there? What was the station doing, andwhat were your expectations? Did you have a master plan? You said we got to do 9:00this we got to do that. What was it like when you got there?
WP: And what was the charge they gave you?
HB: The uh, well, Wayne, they said go find Wayne. (all laugh)
WP: Thank goodness.
HB: Yeah, and go find JDM, and you'll be fine. And actually, that's about that'strue. No, it was pretty obvious what needed to happen. I mean the formatics were quite old. The before one of the um wonderful old wonderful old heritage stations and we've all read about the early WHAS days, and it's a leadership role radio, and um and radio pioneering, probably capped the flood coverage of '37 in those days. I mean it was a truly important radio history, but uh, like a lot of the old properties had the had become rather stale, very top heavy, and 10:00um a big format that was implemented basically was a not a quite a carbon copy, but the formatics were very similar to what I had been doing, and I made an assumption based on that that this is what the guys really wanted, so that's what we did. I think the biggest initial challenge because the the uh structure was really ingrained. We had uh people who had done things a certain way for a long time, and nothing wrong with that. I mean it had worked so well, but it did need to be changed. And the I think the biggest change initially was the introduction of a jock combo situation. Everything prior to that time was uh IVW, the guys - you know, ran the board for the people they were producers.
JF: It's the engineer's union, right?
HB: And they, yes, right, and (laughs) in fact the in the first month I was11:00there, I had um IVW file three complaints against me (all laugh). But, you know, but in time it all worked out well, because I think they realized I was not there in any kind of vendetta situation.
JF: Wasn't wasn't radio sort of not a step child, but television was the kind ofdriving the thing there, and didn't staff go back and forth between radio and television at that time?
HB: Yeah, they did quite a bit. You know Ray Shelton did um weather, did a lotof stuff on television. I think he had a show or something in the afternoon, and you got there was a lot of that. Of course the news department was totally integrated, and fortunately, I was able to get that changed. And the timing was 12:00rather spectacular because we um just nine months before that fateful day in '74 the tornado, we had formed our own independent radio news department, focused only on radio. Glenn, you know Glenn Bastin was director.
JF: Uh hum.
HB: And uh, there was almost we had been prepping for the big event in thatsense. Uh, but the uh, you know, I was trying to think, Jack, of uh, you know the biggest problems were really orienting the station into a world that was kind of unusual for the people who were on the broadcast side, in those days. And there were some rough spots because we did have to um make some changes. We did so gradually, but um um they were things that needed to be done, and 13:00fortunately we were blessed with a an ownership that really did uh give a damn, pardon my French, about the uh people who worked there. So no one was hurt in that situation, at least that I was ever aware of. It was kind of a paternalistic view that the ownership had with the Binghams, and of course the striving with a good staff way way back then. But we I think the biggest memory I have is really just all of the um, and I don't mean to be pandering in saying this. I have no need to do so. It is the truth. It's just the terrific guys that actually made it happen. I mean, uh---
JF: Was Wayne your first sort of hire to put in that morning show and get thatrolling along with the news department? How did you come up on Wayne Perkey? 14:00
HB: ---well, you know I was trying to remember that last night, and Wayne,you're going to have to tell me. We found you some place.
WP: I was working in Mobile, Alabama, doing television, and uh, Bob Morris hadbeen my news director, and Bob had come to be the new news director at WHAS, Inc. He and you arrived about the same time, as I recall.
HB: That's right. Um huh.
WP: And uh, I was telling these guys that one day you walked into Bob's officeand said I know there's a guy you worked with in Mobile. I have his tape and resume somewhere, and I cannot find it, and Bob called me and said Wayne, you call Hugh Barr right now. And I did.
JF: I love it.
WP: So I remember that uh, that I came to interview with you in August, thesummer of '69. Um I parked my car beside the building and came inside, thinking I would be there an hour, if I was lucky, you know, if you guys really liked me, and I would be on my way. And we spent the day together. You and Jim Cotmiller 15:00took me to lunch--oh, gosh--the place is any longer there on Fourth Avenue.
WP: No, uh---
JF: Kunz's, Kunz's.
WP: No, it's one of the one of the up-scale places. We made, anyway, at the endof the day when you turned me loose, they towed my car. (laughs) Not an auspicious beginning. And uh, I that was in July, and I didn't come to work for you until November. Remember, because you had lots of challenges working through how he was going to function.
HB: Oh, we had we had so many things. You know we had a long long morning showin the morning, and um, we in those days when we did diary week, we had no basic information. We could get our hands on the raw data diaries, and it was pretty clean that in Louisville, 20% of all the radio listening began before 5:30 in 16:00the morning. And uh, nothing against Barney, who was such a wonderful guy and became such an integral part of the revised programming---
JF: That's Barney Arnold, the news farm director.
HB: ---right right, and we were just I mean we were basically programming to aworld that had changed and was not quite the same as it had been when they initiated that the initial formatting. But, well you know I always liked Bob Morris, and now my esteem has gone up even more, and so the effort that would put that together, that's great, that's a great story.
JF: It was a good choice because Wayne was on the air mornings for over thirtyyears that was a that was a---
WP: That's--the funny part about this is I thought that we'd reach anunderstanding before I left your office. And I got in my car, and we got back to Mobile, and then you didn't call. And you didn't call. And you didn't call. (laughs)
HB: ---you're kidding.
WP: No, so it was my first day at WHAS was November 10.17:00
HB: That's shame on me. My um my um retroactive apologies for that. (All laugh)That's terrible. The uh, I uh, I hope I have learned (??). That's horrible. (all laugh)
JF: Do you recall what attracted uh what Wayne had that you were looking for tobe sort of a king-pin of that new WHAS. Do you recall anything about it?
WP: I don't think you hired me to be the morning guy, did you? Was that kind of developed?
HB: I think that did develop, and I um---
WP: Was Jerry David did that.
JF: Was Jerry David doing mornings?
WP: Yeah, Jerry David followed Jim Walton when Jim moved up to the Crusade Department.
JF: Oh, so Jerry was already there?
JDM: Yes, I was there.
JDM: I thought sure this guy, big, tall guy coming in with a beard, and I don'tknow what all. I thought I'm out of here. I am gone.
HB: Yeah, you know we just had some uh some building blocks to go through. Um, I18:00think I think that um the major changes happened to, well, I always felt. I don't know I fell upon a term once some guy used the phrase "the power of responsive psychology," and uh, I think that really does kind of fit. I mean that key word after, I mean the term that's the image slogan, the cuddly giant kind of wrapped it all altogether, makes a great image. You know we were trying to find talent to fit the need. Uh, we set some appropriate expectations, build a couple of yard sticks with uh I hope some respectful feedback from me. And then it's basically get the heck out of the way. You know people gravitate to 19:00people they like, and I think the underpinning of the fun we had in those years we uh we enjoyed a group that was entertaining, um you guys were always engaging uh, I mean sometimes challenging, but um, I think it was a very human element on the air that somebody on the other side, somebody on the listening side just enjoyed being around.
WP: It was kind of remarkable the way everything developed. When I went onmornings and Jerry took over nine to noon, Jerry you had a didn't you have a caller a lady who was uh, who would call you every now and then was kind of a real fun, and then Jeff Douglas joined us when Van Vance became a sports guy full time.
WP: You brought Jeffrey in---
HB: Right. I think you're referring I think the lady was a the lady that called Jeffie---20:00
JF: Yeah, yeah, Charlie was her name. Yeah, Charlie.
HB: ---yeah, yeah. And (laughs).
JDM: I was married. I had no women calling me on my radio. (all laugh)
HB: Well, (laughs) you know I have not thought about that we had no female jockson the air. I mean we uh in a way we did have some female representation because of Phyllis Knight.
HB: But, uh, it was really tough. I know the funnel was just male oriented. Thepeople coming out that were interesting the bids were male and gradually that changed of course. I think um that without criticizing the male members on this phone call I think um, getting a getting a female orientation in the broadcast really was a welcome and in very productive kind of thing to happen. We saw it 21:00first, of course, in sales. And in sales forever they were it was a male kind of environment, and uh, of course, now I think in almost every broadcast situation the vast majority of sales execs are female. But---
JF: But that brings to mind another thing, uh, you did not only just on the airstuff but really you had a job to do with community acceptance, too, because WHAS was not first on peoples' minds then. You were developing a good product, but you had to also develop a campaign to overcome that. Do you have any thoughts on that?
HB: Well, the uh, you know once we had the had the people on the air that um,were demonstrating a lot of humor and empathy and interest in the community it was really the next thing was really to try to find marketing. And of course 22:00WHAS at that point in the demos that we really wanted was almost a nonentity, sadly. They I mean we we owned everybody in the fifty plus category.
WP: And all the UK fans.
HB: Yes, yes, fortunately we had--
WP: (laughs) Caywood.
HB: ---I'm sorry?
WP: We had Cawood Ledford and UK basketball.
HB: That's it. That's what really brought in the younger demos, and that uh, butanyway, uh, we started promoting. We promoted that stuff, and began making some gradual inroads. The thing that really did it, uh, actually was the tornado for which I really do think we were uniquely prepared for that. We broadcast 23:00commercial free for three days, I remember. Something most ownerships management teams would never allow in today's world, but again, it was part of the Bingham philosophy was the really the community service, and gradually worked back into it, but um, you guys were just really spectacular in that. Deserve so much credit, I mean it was a, you know, a fly by wire deal, opened the phone lines; took what was happening; tried to coordinate things the best we could. We really did, indeed, become the voice of the community, and uh, incidentally or maybe not so incidentally the tornado occurred during the two week Arbitron Sweep.
JF: I always wondered how you pulled that off. (all laugh)24:00
HB: Well, in those days you guys probably don't remember, you know it was twoweeks in the spring and two weeks in the fall and that was it. And this happened during the two week Arbitron Sweep. It catapulted this into uh basically the commanding position that uh the station retained forever, thanks to you guys because you the guys who kept it going. But, I think the you know the market responded. There was a genuine service orientation going on there, and they simply rediscovered the station.
WP: You know I remember I remember, Hugh, the first time, well, actually youwould call us into your office uh regularly and talk about what was going on what were the numbers when the book came in, and I remember the first time you said to me, "And no, come on my side of the desk, and let me show you these numbers over my shoulder."
And I said, "Hugh, that's the first time you've ever let me look at the book."25:00And you leaned back in your chair and roared with laughter, and said, "I couldn't show you before. It would have broken your heart." (all laugh)
HB: Well, you know, they were um, we were all just working against thesituation, trying to make things better. We had the uh, in my judgement a spectacular product but just had trouble corralling people to recognize it. But you know the outfall of that Dick Gilbert was named, you know Nixon named him Pilot of the Year.
JF: Now tell us how Dick Gilbert. Did you discover Dick Gilbert? How did thathow did that come how did that happen?
HB: You know that was uh---
JF: He was the traffic copter reporter.
HB: ---Yeah, yeah, Sky Watch 84, right?
HB: I uh, I think one of the elements I look back with some enduring surprise ishow lucky I have been in so many ways through all these years in my career. Um, 26:00I have been, and become rather apparent just anybody had to drive around Louisville. The traffic is becoming a major deal, and nobody's doing anything with it. I think they were trying and they had some um, small efforts, and nobody's really doing anything. And this is no joke. A week after I initiated some discussions internally about something we really needed to think about, this guy, Dick Gilbert, appeared at the radio station. And he'd been working uh, in New York city doing traffic up there for, I think, WCBS.
JF: He was a Louisville boy, wasn't he? Wasn't he from Louisville or something?
HB: Yes. He had if I am remembering correctly, and if I'm not, I apologize, but27:00uh, either to Dick, but he had lost his wife, had a daughter, wanted to raise his daughter in Louisville. And that was the background which was uh, rather sad from his standpoint, rather fortuitous from ours, and that's how we uh, hooked up. Then it was basically trying to persuade Barry Jr. that this was something that we needed to do, and of course, there was a big number attached to it. But, again, good for him. He said you know, I think you are right, and we did it. So he joined us and became such an integral part of the service team.
JF: What were your feelings that day in 1974 when the tornado came through. Thatuh, obviously changed everything, but what were your feelings, do you remember your feelings that day and everything going through your mind. Do you recall any 28:00of that?
HB: I really do, Jack. I mean that's just uh, anybody who went through that, andof course, you relived it for years after that every time there was a serious storm that came through because you just relived the event. Yeah, the uh, I mean it started gradually, I mean with the uh some storm warnings uh, you really got tipped going when, uh south of us, I've forgotten the name of the town.
HB: Brandenburg. Thank you. Where a tornado had actually touched down, and thenuh, let's see Byron I think, Brian---
JF: Byron Crawford.
JDM: Byron Crawford.
HB: ---yeah I think that Brian---
HB: ---yeah, I think Brian and uh, and Glenn began doing broadcast--begantalking with the guy the head meteorologist about what was happening, and you know the storm came though so quickly that pretty soon the whole program just 29:00converted to just following the storm, but particularly after they viewed the touchdowns. And you guys may remember that Dick spied the touchdown while he was giving a broadcast and so graphically described if you follow this tornado. Incidentally, he had been ordered by the tower to come down. He declined to do so, at probably some peril at his future of flying, but uh, it turned out to be okay. But, you know he followed that forecast where things were headed, and um, you know the station is credited with saving many many lives, and I'm sure given the um, if he what could have been, I'm sure that's correct, very correct. But, 30:00yeah, that was a I remember uh with the exception of the air staff everybody else was huddled in the basement. Barry was down there, and we'd dash up every once in a while, and of course, people were listening to the radio, and hearing what was going on. And then basically we were just trying to organize people so we could keep what had what we had initiated on the air to keep going, and everybody did. I mean it was just a it was a wonderful wonderful exhibit of of everyone working together for a common cause. That sounds a little un (??) I suppose, but it's very true. Terrific guys who really cranked at it. Everybody's first concern was, I think, very honest and very heart felt. Community had been through a lot. A lot going on; how can we help; how can we be there; and there 31:00was that thinking was indicative of the general spirit the philosophy of the radio station, whether it was injecting humor or service. I think that was kind of a hallmark that made that particular group of people in those few years really stand out in the community. And certainly stand out in my mind.
JF: Certainly, gave us into your philosophy of finding good people, and thatthat you put a lot of thought into that, finding the right people in the right slot, and having good chemistry. Everybody worked together including, as I recall, not just on the air staff but the sales department was kind of involved in that, the news department, all those meshed. And that was very unusual for a radio station, especially a radio station that size. There didn't seem to be territories. Obviously, we all had our turf, but everybody worked together for a common cause, and you were, in my mind, you were the the wizard behind the curtain there, pulling all those strings.
HB: Well, you're nice to say that. I think we did share a philosophy. I think32:00one of the things, when you look for a and people are asking what, you know, what do you look for in people, and I think that's pretty simple. All you guys have to do is look around, and what was evident to me was is undoubtedly evident to you, I mean you have real people that doing, yeah, I mean, there is certain technology involved, and you have to be skilled in what you're doing, and a layer of talent doesn't hurt, but um, yeah it basically comes from what's cooking inside the individual. I think that's that's the thing that always drew me to you guys because really, uh, you know, it's a very unique mix. It truly was, and I um, I don't want to sound like sour grapes, because it's not, but I think, you know, people look at WHAS, and they talk about the golden age of 33:00radio. I think in fact there was in those early pioneer days, I think so many incredible things people did. They took enormous risks. They put together something that was really unique, and in those early days when there was so much experimentation and working that that kind of gets the focus. Um, I think in the age that we were all together there, we had kind of our own golden age that I've never felt really received the recognition that it should. I mean we turned a corner. We rebuilt a wonderful old station into a really a huge, competitive, power house. I think based on the original tenets of the good Judge, but um, 34:00that station survival meant really contemporizing its approach. We maintained a service orientation, but it was wrapped inside a modern vehicle. But, um, it was genuinely fun to listen to. And I think probably because of that doesn't get some of the credit that it deserved. And I don't not trying to take that credit from me, I don't mean that at all, but I think it's really hard. We dev had mediated from, you know the old stately real, green churches in classrooms in every back wood cabin that was kind of a preamble of the early Bingham days, and yeah we got a lot of credit, but I think. (laughs) Historians like serious, you know what I mean. I mean it's a different land. Kind of like uh, I remember 35:00hearing a conversation with Jack Lemon once. You know he was nominated as best actor I don't know about a zillion times, but he said that people who have fun or convey fun to start taking seriously. I think he did go ahead and win an Oscar. You guys would know better than I. But, I think there was a little bit of that. The early years where they crank it up in the industry, but the foundation that you guys were so instrumental in building, you know, maintained that station for a long, long time. And in a very very dominant position that really was the envy of a lot of people in, you know, our industry.
JF: Well, it truly became the cuddly giant. When, did you come up with thatterm. Who came up with that term, "the cuddly giant?" And I guess the tornado was sort of the turning point for that to really come into existence and enjoy 36:00several years of that? Who came up with that term?
HB: Well, you know, I'll take the blessings or the you know, (laughs) or thecurses. But that was that was pretty simple, Jack. I, you know the um we really needed some imaging. Something that would really stick to it to kind of personify that whole ball of wax of what we were. We had un on one side, yeah, we were this caring kind of paternal entity in the market place, uh and our first concern was in fact I'm trying to remember some of the early marketing on the air that we used that had to do with uh the news uh. Let's see, "Your desire to know comes first from Kentuckiana's news leader." Something like that, 37:00something like. Anyway, you know, but the cuddly giant seemed to wrap into the friendly, warm, encompassing nature of the personality of the radio station. It's really somebody fun and friendly to be with. Much like you'd like to have this guy for your next door neighbor. And um, I claim no great credit for what I did. I did like it, frankly, and uh found this guy Brother John, you guys may remember him, um fabulous pikes up in New York City, who did the um image liners for us. Using the term, "the cuddly giant" you're working the giant reach of the cuddly giant. I am trying to remember some of those-you guys will remember some of those better than I, but if it got the thing accomplished (??) the approach of the radio station and what it really represented and what it could mean to the community, Jack. That's about it. 38:00
JF: Well, Hugh, you started that journey in 1969, and you were when did youleave what year when did you leave the station?
HB: I left in um, I'm going to say '76 or '77; it may have been '77.
JF: I was there through through the middle of '76, and you were still there.But, my point of it was, and we will talk about what did after that, but my point was you got it up and running, but you had to do a little tweaking along the way, too. I remember you know you had to add some people; I remember you may want to talk about Jeff Douglas for just a moment. Jeff was the afternoon guy, and we had a very somber afternoon one time when Jeff didn't show up.
HB: Yes. That was the that was the uh that, undoubtedly, was the saddest memoryfrom that time was Jeff's death, and the circumstances that were really tough, and um, yeah, he was just I mean he was just a nice, great addition to what we needed in the afternoons, somebody who really (??) lead that could take people 39:00home and be fun to drive with, and had a great feel. He was another guy who just uh had some unique personality. But that was, yeah, that was good. That was a sad time when we lost Jeffey, and of course, uh then we brought in Gary.
JF: Do you want to talk about Gary Burbank. How did that happen, because thatwas a big departure come from a a rock jock who had been a WAKY there and had gone to a station in Detroit and was kind of a wild character and uh he worked at an adult radio station, and how did you make that decision and how did that come about?
HB: Well, I knew I was going to have an interesting discussion with uh, themanagement team there, Barry and Cy. (all laugh) The it just made sense, um I 40:00had heard that Gary um, you know, he had made quite a name for himself up there, and I used to love the way he would talk and say, when he would do one of these voices, and this is Gary Burbank coming to you from my mouth. That was a panic. But uh, yeah uh, he was interested in coming down. We'd had some discussions um, obviously not before Jeffey's death, but afterwards his wife is from from Louisville, and uh, I forgot whether there was just a flyer somehow we connected um---
WP: Jeffey called me. When Jeffey died, Gary called me. He was in Windso,r andsaid Wayne, do you think they would even consider talking to me, and that's when I burst into your office and said Hugh, here's the guy. He--- 41:00
HB: ---I got Wayne. Well, listen we need to send you roses or something, youknow, cause the uh, yeah, I mean we began communicating and the uh, yeah, the first image was wow WAKY and crazy guy, and we're kind of, and of course, at this point it was convincing Barry and Cy that we were that we had really turned that corner. We're not flaky; we're responsible, but we like to have fun, and here's a guy, you would, in my judgement, really pick up the pieces in a critical time period. And yeah, and the rest um is, I guess, commercial history. And I had forgotten that, Wayne, again my apologies. I need to brought some 42:00heavy credit brunch across you for that as well. And for your good memory. Thank you. I got one of the big kicks with Gary, you know, Gary had never uh, his first day on the air, I do remember that, was a panic because he had he had never met a clock time. (all laugh)
JF: Never met a clock he liked.
HB: Yeah, I mean he'd never met a clock deadline like for a newscast, you know,and the poor guy, I mean he was scared to death. I mean you've got the music. You got the four net bits, but how do you make it work, but he either right eye, I mean, but, I do remember he came in and had the long talk about how can I stretch out, how can I contract, what, who, what do I have to do in order to, you know, to hit the time. And un, but that was, yeah that was great. Of course, the Derbys were all wonderful. And we had had such a wonderful time, and you 43:00guys have all been involved in that, and Wayne, you kicked off the early morning always back in the paddock, and uh, those were just wonderful times. There are I remember um, you know, Vicky Burger's dad was a trainer, and Wayne, I'm sure you remember that. But, she was good enough to uh arrange for my youngest daughter to visit the stalls on Derby morning, and uh, it's one of her fondest memories. One of mine as well. I mean she actually petted Secretariat---
HB: ---and uh then had her picture distributed nationwide by Associated Press.You remember No Le Hace, the horse that always came in second, and that horse decided to snack on the little jacket she was wearing, and the photographer just happened to be there, and got it. (all laugh) And uh, you know, that was great. 44:00But, the engineering stuff, you know when you think of problems we overcame um---
JF: You were changing equipment and everything, too, didn't you, I mean fromturn tables and everything else.
HB: ---oh yeah. I mean everything became combo and (??) no, oh (laughs) a littlesecret between the chief engineer and myself, and I'm fighting my memory for the name of the engineer, very nice guy, I can't think of his name, I'm sorry, never mind, anyway, uh which shows you how much the initial antagonism had turned into cooperation, I---
JF: Harold Harold Dearman. Was it Harold Dearman?
HB: ---no, predating.
JF: Excuse me; go ahead.45:00
HB: Anyway, I wanted to install a dynamic equalizer into the sound, and this isa I don't know what they call it now. That's what's called then. I've always been a fan of the ballistics of sound, and uh, to give us a little mid-range edge um, we we put in this dynamic equalizer and added a just of edge of reverb, and uh, he and I never disclosed it, to anyone, I didn't not even Ed Shadburne was aware of it. That thing was cranking along. I have no idea how long it remained after I left. I was always worried that somebody would catch on to that. (all laugh) But, it did give us a little leg. Once in a while I could hear when we're doing sound checks there were board oriented instead of off the air. 46:00And I swear I could detect the lobe. I was just always scared to death that somebody was going to holler about that, and I was going to get another protest from IBW whatever, but uh, yeah, those were great.
JF: Well, you also, you know talking of the production part, you also introducedanother element there, and that was production director. Up to that point the engineers had had put things together, but didn't you actually carve out a production record. Jim Ferguson, John Polk, in that tradition?
HB: Yeah, actually the I think the first production director we had by name wasuh, oh, man.
JF: I think it was Ferguson.
HB: Um, I---
JF: Jim Ferguson? Was it---
HB: ---yes, Jim Ferguson.
JF: ---Jim Ferguson?
HB: Thank you so much. Yeah. I mean we just needed- the sales were cranking, uh,in the earlier days, I mean there was the copy uh copy book, and everybody read 47:00the copy, and there was very little recording, and the dynamic for the video station required effects and a little energy and what's going on, so we taped everything. And uh, yeah, that began, you know, production department because the spots needed to match the energy of the rest of the station, and in one themed we tried to keep going even through the commercials whether there was music or effects or something it never stopped. It was just kind of forward dynamic of the radio station. And then when we would stop down, somebody would do an ad-lib spot. I mean that was really a big deal. And um those were thought through very carefully. We limited the number of those. Uh, but they were always incredibly effective because you guys were really good at doing what you did. So 48:00this was really stood out, but yes, we had to initiate the whole production outfit. I remember the first automobile we had for the news department. I dented the fender in it. I was always embarrassed about that. (all laugh). Yeah.
WP: You know, one of the most-this is Wayne. You remember one of the most funpromotions we did was when Shillitos came to the brand new Oxmoor Center. And the see, I think Tonini might have been-I've forgotten, maybe Jerry Solomon was the salesman who was handling the account, but all the personalities were invited to come out to Shillitoes and look at all the stuff they had for sale. And then simply make up commercials about them.
HB: You know I had forgotten that. In a that's right, that would have been. Oh,wow, I can't remember what year that was.
WP: Seventy-one, maybe?49:00
HB: That they would have been very much like uh what the radio station did. Imean there were just uh, I would have no idea whose idea that was. Probably yours, Wayne. (all laugh)
WP: No, I think that was I believe Ed Tonini was the one who brought us theidea, but I'm not sure. I also remember the first Jeffey's birthday party we staged. It was either in the mall or Oxmoor. Jeffey dressed up in a bunny rabbit suit, and all the personalities came, and nobody came. (all laugh)
WP: Do you remember, Gary?
HB: No. Well, that was a great. You know when in fact I ran across two days agoI was doing a little cleaning, um I've got have a storage unit I hadn't addressed for a hundred years. Stuff that has followed me forever, and I was going through an old box, and I found an old box broadcast material. And it was 50:00a sheet of a, just one sheet here of all the promotion activities that J.D.M and Jeffey and Wayne and everybody were involved in the community along with Milton, and Jack, you, in fact, you're in there on a couple of items, and it covered there was a puff piece I guess we did for sales department. They probably sent it over to the paper as well, that identified all the individuals and the activities they were involved in each month. And I ran across one paper with this phenomenal it just (??) phenomenal number of events and public appearances that you guys were involved in doing, either emceeing or talking to a class or or or whatever it may have been. It was always something out in front of the public, talking to a club or maybe a service organization. Couple of schools I 51:00know were in there. That was just one sheet that I happened to hang on to it. I did, I scanned that last night, and sent it over to Ed Shadburne, and I'd be glad to scan and sent it to you guys---
JF: That'd be great. That'd be great.
HB: ---as well. Short on time last night. But, I think you would together get akick out of really how incredibly busy you guys were. I mean, you were in front of the community constantly, just constantly.
JF: It really was a cuddly giant, then, yeah?
HB: Yeah, it really was.
JDM: Hugh, this is Jerry David. I know they tied me in a closet, and wouldn'tlet me out, but I'm still here. (all laugh) I want to go back a minute to the people you hired and the group that we got together, and you did you were 52:00remarkable in being able to choose the right people, I think. But, more importantly, in my opinion, is that you did so many of these events for us. We would do, uh, a big movie would come out, and it was going to be shown---
WP: The first Godfather.
JDM: ---the Godfather. We will always remember that.
WP: We dressed up in those suits. (laughs)
JDM: But, you had us on each one of our shows, we would uh play some kind of agame to get a winner, and it would be uh, a couple, you know, then we would go with our wives in those days, and we'd all go. Well, that was, that played a big role in why we got along, I think, and we really appreciate each one of us as 53:00being talented, but also we found ourselves to be friends. And that meant so much to our growth, I think, but you were great about getting our names out there, and the station out there. When I came, before you were here, I came from a fifty, let's see, a day time radio station in Dayton, Ohio. And it was a good station, just great people there, but we didn't know each other, and that was just a small group, you know. But, when I came to Louisville, and before you I didn't know anybody there, you know? You, not only did you have to try to remember the names of your co-workers as far as being on the air, but you had all the engineers you had to remember. 54:00
JDM: But when you came you had the idea of promotions where we were together,whether it be a play or a football tickets or basketball tickets or movies or whatever, and I think it really played a big role in how we all worked together, and how we were all proud of where we worked, and I think the people that we met were pretty excited about it all, and got to meet all us and other people. So I think that was just incredible what you did there.
HB: Well, bless your heart for saying that. I always felt that there was awonderful family environment. You know the uh somebody I met is a management 55:00guru once said you got to be objective; you've got to be flexible; you got to be compatible. And uh, you guys were all that. I mean you I mean really heavy on the compatible side, which was what was so endearing to the audience because I think they sense those things. When it is genuine I near it's a just a totally different reaction to what they are hearing out of the speaker. And you guys were so great that way. And yeah, there was just a very strong family approach, and the fact that you guys were compatible, and I remember uh telling somebody years later that um well, you know, for instance when when Gary came down the um you know one of the things I tell that's really important was um the chemistry 56:00and feedback from you guys. And you remember we we turned the him loose with you guys for a couple of hours all by your lonelies in the production studio so you could get acquainted, and I could get your feedback, and I think I that was an (??) for the fact that uh there were no walls between you guys. I mean it was just like one big family, and that lived in the same house, and the house just happened to be the radio station.
JF: I want to piggy back on that, and what Jerry said. When I came up tointerview we had talked on the phone. I came to interview with you and my wife came with me, and at the end of the day we wound up at dinner at Louisville Downs with Wayne and Jane Ann and Jerry and Kay---
WP: Did it snow that night?
JF: ---I don't remember that, but the thing that impressed us was how closeevery-Milton and his wife were there, and I think Hugh, you and Maureen may have 57:00been there, but that it impressed us that this was a group that were they all got along. They like each other; that was nice.
WP: Ken Shultz was part of that team, too, and he and his wife had stopped at myhouse and ridden out with us because he's brand new in town, and it snowed. Do you remember? We had a heck of a snow fall in that, and his car got stuck in my drive way, and he couldn't get out. (all laugh)
HB: OH my gosh.
WP: He left two big ruts.
HB: The snow was kind of crazy. We had um you know the one year when the riverfroze over. I mean it sounds like yeah yeah yeah the river froze over. Well, it did.
WP: It did.
HB: Yeah, yeah.
WP: And Gary invented the snow sharks. Were you still here?
HB: No, the snow-I love the name, though.
JF: He talks about it on another interview. Gary had been a snow shark. We'lltalk about that, again. (all laugh)
JF: Well, let me let me talk switch gears just a minute here. You mentioned EdShadburne's name a few minutes ago. Ed was the general manager. He had high 58:00praise for you. In fact, when I interviewed him he said thank God Hugh Barr was there, he said.
JF: But, was he the only GM while in your tenure there. Did Ed leave andsomebody else come in? I was trying to remember the GMs while you were there.
HB: Yeah, there was Sholis, and then we deal with Ed, and then there was a---
JF: Fred Osler? Was Fred in there?
HB: ---Fred Osler came after, yes. I worked with Fred, oh, I think for less thana year, actually. Um I I'd heard he'd never had been a GM, although they never called it a GM at HAS until Ed took leave of his senses and made me manager. Totally blew his reputation by doing that. (all laugh)
JF: I think he did very well.
HB: Yeah, I really enjoyed it. Ed and I uh, I thought worked extremely well59:00together. He understood very very well what we were doing. He had a lot of respect for the guys on the air. A really good guy. I was kind of hoping he might be on board with this conversation today. I'd always had a real fondness for Ed. He's a---
JF: Yes, he has family in town today, or he would have been here. He wanted tocome, but he had family in town. He couldn't be here.
HB: ---yeah. Okay, got you.
JF: Well, let me ask you this. You left WHAS, we think around 1978, '77 '78.But, leading up to that. I was not aware of your background before you had come. You had not had this kind of experience at other radio stations, I don't think, had you? Had you kind of -- was this a master plan in the back of your mind developing this? Or did were you kind of making up as you go along? Had you had this kind of success at the previous radio station. You were pretty young guy. 60:00
HB: Well, I think in Louisville I had the chance to do to paint a prettierpicture there than I had been able to do earlier. I mean both in Casper and Ogden I was program director, and you know the format was broad format, and um but it never had the ability, as I did in Louisville, to build everything from the ground up.
JF: Yeah, um huh.
HB: And and when you have an opportunity like that, which is pretty rare, it umit makes things, you know, despite the frustrations that come along with doing something like that, it was a wonderful opportunity, and the the concept of just building your radio station that was like your good buddy next door that you'd 61:00rely on when things are tough and that you'd enjoy watching the ball game with on the week end it's always been during that that still has been my favorite kind of broadcasting. I think it is the most effective kind. It does get the highest response level from people just in terms of emotional attachment, and we had it all that. I think we had a great package.
WP: You were also able to gather people who really love radio and loved working.I remember working the first state fair, Kentucky State Fair, after I came aboard, 1970. Maureen and I, your wife and I were the two people who were manning the booth at the state fair.
WP: Giving away a giant, Zenith, color tv as I recall. (both laugh) We hadsimply a curtain, a table, and pencils to sign people up.
HG: Oh, yeah, I mean we've made a little progress during the state fair, do you62:00remember. We suspended a car, I think after once, and uh we had the big giant posters that drawings the heads of you guys that we used for promotionally. I always liked those. I always wished I'd had some copies of those. Um.
JF: One of my favorite memories of that was uh we had we had shopping bags withour characters on them, and one had, "I spend my mornings with Jerry David Melloy." And I'll never forget I saw a little nun carrying one around and a lady who was very very pregnant carrying one of those around. (all laugh)
HG: Well, what happened off the air, you know---. (all laugh)
JF: Well, Hugh you you did you did some marvelous marvelous things here. I'veconducted many of these interviews, and in most every one of them your name comes up, and it gets credit for taking WHAS from its previous golden days into 63:00that golden era.
WP: Well said.
JF: You left here to go to Syracuse, is that right?
HB: Actually, I joined the Golden West and the Gene Autry up in Detroit.
JF: Oh, okay.
HB: And uh, they didn't have they had acquired properties up there didn't haveanybody to run them. Really liked what we were doing except the Golden West, which was the name of their company, basically big gun personnel on the stations on the west coast, San Francisco, LA, um and uh it acquired the property in Chicago, and decided I would be the guy to go up there. And I'm glad I did. It was not a happy experience, frankly. The um, before too long I could kind of uh read the tea leaves. The guy I had built a strong relationship with was gone. He 64:00called me one morning and said, Hugh, the board has met, and I'm no longer with the company, and pretty soon I was reporting to a guy who ran their television side of things who had never been in radio. Then within a period of a few months, we were all gone. All of the the radio guys replaced with his team, and that was his prerogative. I I it was not a happy time. From that stand point, personally, but I've never held any grudge. I mean it was kind of what he wanted to do. But, fortunately, that got me over to Syracuse, and what was another situation, somewhat analogous to the WHAS situation. Another, wonderful, old-line, radio station that had been a pioneer of sorts, that was just uh, had lagged behind the time clock and needed contemporizing. And I had a lot of fun 65:00up there. Just really enjoyed it. Um these when I was up there the property that was owned by Newhouse, which is, you know, owns newspapers, magazine, Conde-Nast is one of the outfits. Uh, it was fine, but then I uh another outfit bought those properties when Newhouse was worried about the FCC and concentration of media. And they sold their radio properties. They had three little markets; I was running those. And then uh, my boss for many many years had a little company. It expanded the company; bought the properties in Syracuse that became Newset Communications, and I was in Syracuse running those properties up there 66:00for eight or nine years, and we acquired properties in San Antonio, had nobody to run them, and I was doing all of ours every other week routines, up and back, and uh as I mentioned at the head end of this I'd get up in the morning, and I'd see blue sky and San Antonio, and I'd get up in Syracuse, and it would be ice cold and blowing and cold and um, I brought Maureen down for several, long, weekends, and that was pretty much it. I'll be those uh down there I'll just move down and take care of those, and um and we'll elevate somebody inside-fortunately had really good people to do that. And that was it. The, you know, I came down here, and uh and it's been a group et with a new city, and retained that position with Cox, and it turned out I was ready. Interesting, Bob 67:00Neal, who is the uh, at that point, the president of in running Cox radio side is a guy I had hired as a program director in Syracuse. And he had moved within the company down to an Atlanta property, and um and he um at that point there was still a newspaper property, and he moved across street to Cox, and then Cox turned around and bought New City. It was all a very incestuous kind of relationship. (all laugh) But, it was great. I remained here by choice since then, and then retired in '99. I can hardly believe it. It's almost fifteen years ago now. But, I had a wonderful ride, and frankly, in retrospect in looking back at the degree of highlights, um, and I think we do, kind of in our 68:00in our reminiscing moments we look back at stuff at things that were really important to us, and um, in my tenure there at WHAS was without a doubt, the most exciting, and just thoroughly rewarding from a creative standpoint. It was just wonderful being with a bunch of terrific guys who made it happen.
JF: Well, you got to see your ideas put into action and proven correct. That'svery satisfying.
HB: Well, it was terrific. I enjoyed you guys. I have always been indebted tothat time. I know it was important to Maureen, as well, and she loved those days very very much, and certainly respected all of you guys. You know a lot of stories that you guys have shared, and you probably continue to share about 69:00those days. I mean we hit the high points, and we had some low points, and we've discussed that, the sadness surrounding Jeffie's death certainly hits that. But, a lot of wonderful wonderful high points, and some successes and personal achievements I think we all share, and I really mean that in the legit form of the word. I mean you all share it. It was something we all did together. I think that's the only thing that made it so great.
JF: It was a great time. We thank you for that. Thank you for taking the timehere today. And with apologies to the group who paid tribute to you on Utube, we're going to have the cuddly giant quartet plus one close this a little tribute to you.
All: (singing) We're glad we got to know Hugh.
JF: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
HB: (laughs) All right you guys.
JF: Thank you.
HB: I have enjoyed this. I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed it. You guys are70:00important in my life. And thank you, again, so much. And Jack you take care. And I guess you'll be sending me the release, and we'll get that back to you.
JF: You'll be the first to know.
JDM: No, you'll have to come here to get it. (all laugh)
JF: There we go. That's better. I'm going to turn the recorder off, but hang onjust a minute here.