JF: Okay, we are recording now. Yeah, it looks like we've got volume going, sowe'll do it. This is Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014. I am talking with Skip Essick. Hey, Skip, how you doing?
SE: Jack, I'm doing well, thank you. You?
JF: You're in Fresno, California now, right?
SE: I've been here for seven years, it's hard to believe.
JF: We're struggling with the cold temperatures here in Kentucky, a little sunnytoday, but cold. In Fresno, you have it opposite, you're warm and you have a drought, huh?
SE: We have a big drought going on, and it's a very, very serious conditionbecause there's been absolutely no rain out there for a long time now, months, and no measurable rain during the month of December, none yet for the month of January. And the governor declared a drought emergency last week, and the weather experts are saying that it looks like this could be the worst drought in 1:00half a millennium.
JF: That's rough there in your Central Valley with all your agriculture, isn'tit? Wow.
SE: That's right.
JF: Fresno, KMJ radio, another 50,000 watt station, huh?
SE: Yes, sir. The big 50,000 watt voice of Central California.
JF: You have an affinity for those kind of stations.
SE: I do, I love these stations.
JF: Well, Skip, let's talk about you for just a moment. You were in Louisvillefor a while, but where are you from originally?
SE: Originally, Jack, I'm from Lima, Ohio, that's the old stomping grounds. Idid all my cutting of teeth in Lima and in Northwest Ohio, and that's where I'm really from, but I spent the majority of my career in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
JF: Where did the radio bug first bite you? Was it as a young kid listening toradio stations?
SE: I was in, I want to say, maybe the 8th grade, freshman in high school,somewhere in there, and that's when it hit. And I actually got my first job in 2:00radio, working part-time at the local radio station, WIMA in Lima, Ohio, back when I was a senior in high school.
JF: This was in the '60s, in the '70s?
SE: That was like 1967.
JF: Yeah, how about that?
SE: 1967 or '68, somewhere in there.
JF: Progressed from there to where did you go to radio from there?
SE: Well, from there, actually my first full-time job in radio was at a littleradio station in Van Wert, Ohio, and I was there for less than a year, and then I went to work for the top 40 radio station in Lima, Ohio, WCIT. And I was there for about a year or so. I left and went to Findlay, Ohio, and worked in Findlay 3:00at WFIN, then back to Lima to WCIT, where I became program director.
JF: So, up to this point, you've been an on-air person, now programming startsto come into the picture, huh?
SE: Programming started to come into the picture back in '69, '70. And inbetween there, I had to do some time with the Army because I was a member of the Ohio National Guard, and so I had to go on active duty for a period of time to do my basic training and my AIT at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
JF: Now, when you were on the air, which obviously you loved, you got a greatvoice for it and all that sort of thing, were you torn when you went into programming? Were you one of those program directors who was on the air and did programming? Or were you completely off the air by that time?
SE: Well, at first, I was on the air as program director, and then I went toGrand Rapids, Michigan, and I was the all-night disc jockey at WGRD, and I was at that radio station for a long time, the entire decade of the '70s, from 1971 4:00to 1980. So, I was at WGRD for quite a while as the assistant program director, and I was also an on-air disc jockey. And then, from there, I actually got my first real programming job at WSPD in Toledo, Ohio, and I went down there for a couple of years, I was off the air at the time. And WSPD was what we called at the time a full-service radio station, so we did a lot of news, a lot of sports, a lot of talk, and we played adult contemporary music, very much like what WHAS used to be.
JF: Yeah. Now, did you come to HAS from SPD, or were you in Grand Rapids after that?
SE: No, WSPD was owned by WOOD Broadcasting, and WOOD, W-O-O-D, the flagship5:00station, was in Grand Rapids. The whole Toledo thing happened because, it's funny how it happened, but I was a disc jockey at GRD in Grand Rapids, and on the weekends I was an usher at a Catholic church in Grand Rapids, and the head of WOOD Broadcasting always used to go to the Mass that I was the usher at, and that's how I got to know him. And when they bought the radio station in Toledo, I pitched them on the idea that they send me down there as program director, and, by God, they hired me and put me down there. And I was there for two years exactly, almost to the day. And then they needed to make some changes back in Grand Rapids, and they promoted me and brought me back to Grand Rapids, where I 6:00was as program director of WOOD from 1982 until when I went to Louisville in '89.
JF: I thought you had come from Grand Rapids, I knew you had a lot ofconnection, and eventually went back there after a while, too. Well, let's talk about that, in 1989, when you came to WHAS. How did that happen? Did somebody contact you, or were you aware of the position, or what happened?
SE: Well, what happened, Jack, was originally, I want to say it was '84 or '85,a friend of mine was leaving the program director job at WHAS, it was Denny Nugent, and Denny was leaving and recommended me as his replacement. And I flew down and I interviewed for the job with Bob Scherer, and I was offered the job. At 7:00the last moment, I backed out and decided not to take the job. The folks at Grand Rapids really didn't want me to go, and the family didn't seem to be too enthused about moving to Louisville at that time either. It was one of those things where after I did not take the job, I kicked myself in the pants for not taking it, and I thought if I ever have that opportunity again, I'm going to take it. And, sure enough, I'm trying to remember the name of the program director that they ended up hiring-
JF: Was it Gary Bruce?
SE: Yes, it was Gary Bruce. When Gary left, they contacted me again, it was aconsultant by the name of Lee Bailey.
SE: Who has since passed away.8:00
JF: I didn't realize that.
SE: Yeah, Lee passed away not that long ago. But Lee had contacted me and toldme that the job was open again, and I had interviewed then again with Bob, went back down, met with Bob, we talked about the radio station and everything. And then, at the same time, Denny Nugent, who had been in Phoenix, was also being considered for the job to return back to Louisville.
So, the family and I were on our way to Ireland, and we were going there for afamily vacation over Easter. I was supposed to call Bob on a particular day, and it was the day that we were traveling, and I called him from Kennedy Airport. I said, "Well, Bob, what's the story going to be here?" And he said, "Well, Skip, 9:00we're going to go with Denny." And so that was that, and I figured that's the end of the story.
Well, lo and behold, about a week later, we had been out touring the Ring ofKerry in Killarney, and when we got back to our hotel, the clerk at the front desk of the hotel said that there was a gentleman by the name of Lee Bailey trying to call me and contact me. I still don't know how he ever tracked me down in Killarney, Ireland. But he called me, I called him back, and he said, "Skip, we want you in Louisville." And I said, "Well, what happened to Denny?" And he said, "Well, Denny's decided to go to Cleveland." And I said, "I'm your man." And that's how it all came to pass.
JF: This was all over the spring and summer of '89, huh?
SE: It was. It was kind of the luck of the Irish.
JF: You've had a lot of brush with the Irish, we'll talk about that in a few minutes.
SE: I did.
JF: I don't know if you remember this, I don't know if this was when you10:00originally interviewed or not, but do you remember a luncheon at Timothy's restaurant on Broadway, all the guys were meeting you, we all had lunch together, if you remember that?
SE: Yeah, that was in '89, that was when I actually took the job.
JF: After you took the job.
SE: Right. And was hired. I had gone down there for a weekend. As soon as we gotback from Ireland, I immediately unpacked, got on a plane, flew to Louisville, and that's when we all had that lunch there at Timothy's. I remember that very well.
JF: Yeah, first time we'd met you, first time I'd met you, and it turned outwell, it was good, very good. So, you're coming down to Louisville to WHAS, 50,000 watt station. What were your impressions of the station? It was something you liked? Something you didn't like? What attracted you to the job?
SE: Well, first of all, I was very familiar with the radio station, and I thinkwhat really attracted me to the radio station was the Derby Day coverage that I looked forward to hearing every year. I thought that the radio station was just one of the best-sounding radio stations I had ever heard. And it just popped, it 11:00jumped out. And I used to love to listen to the radio station, and you could get it in Grand Rapids in the late afternoon, and especially in the evening. And I remember when Terry Meiners came on board, and I just loved listening to that, the whole thing.
JF: [crosstalk] your friend, Denny, shaping that up. I'd forgotten about theconnection with you and Denny. Where did you all meet, by the way? Just from programming? Or where did you all know each other?
SE: Well, I was at WSPD in Toledo, and Denny was down at WTVM in Columbus, andthat's how we met. We were both down there in the Ohio area.
JF: So, you came in, and what did you see when you came in?
SE: Everything that I expected it to be. It was a fabulous radio station, agreat facility, and an incredible staff. And I think that at that time, it was 12:00all the right people at the right time, and just magic emanated out of that building there at 4th and Chestnut. It was really something special and truly, at the time, and probably even to this day, the greatest radio station that I think I ever worked for.
JF: Skip, I can hear your enthusiasm in the voice, and that's one thing youbrought to the job, you brought enthusiasm for the job. It wasn't just another job to you, you truly enjoyed broadcasting and everything.
SE: I loved that radio station, I really did. It was a real difficult decisionto even leave there. I really had to struggle with that.
JF: When did you leave, Skip? What year was it?
SE: I left in '95. I was there for six years. The calendar of the things that wedid each year at that radio station were just really truly remarkable things.
JF: It almost takes your breath away just to think about the schedule, doesn't13:00it really?
SE: University of Louisville Basketball, the Schnellenberger era with football,the Kentucky Derby, all of that Derby Day stuff that we used to do.
SE: The annual Crusade for Children. It was just an incredible time to be atthat radio station, it was, it was remarkable. I mean we always had our challenges too, there were always things that happened that could drive you crazy, but-
JF: Like what? Anything you recall, things that would drive you crazy? And I saythat in a good way because you were so passionate about the product. You were one of those guys, if Joe Donovan was on from midnight to 5:00 and the phone rang at 2:00 in the morning, he knew it was you. [crosstalk].
SE: And not only that, or having to run down to the radio station becausesomebody was sick and having to pop on the air, which I never minded doing, I 14:00didn't mind doing that at all. I mean there were certain things that always drove you crazy, budget issues. We were with Clear Channel, and so there were things that the radio station had before I was there that I couldn't have anymore because we were part of this growing company.
JF: Yeah, you were the early stations of Clear Channel there, weren't you?
SE: Yeah, it was the old Clear Channel. But nevertheless, it's all minor stuff,it's not really that big of a deal anyhow, it was just little picayune things that used to get under my skin, but certainly nothing that ... as you look back on it, really no big deal.
JF: Let's talk about some of the people. Bob Sheer was general manager.
SE: I loved Bob.
JF: What was he like? Tell me about that, your relationship with him and how heoperated and things like that.
SE: Bob was one of these guys that nothing would rattle him, nothing would shake15:00him. He never really got upset about anything. I used to say that I could go into Bob's office, jump up on his desk and do something obscene, and he wouldn't react to it one way or the other.
JF: Did you ever used to do that, by the way?
JF: Just curious.
SE: I always thought of Bob, he was a class act. We got along very well. He andhis wife, Lisa, treated me and my family so well while we were down there. I enjoyed him.
JF: Sales people, who was the sales manager? Do you remember who the sales manager-
SE: Mark Thomas was the sales manager at the time. I think Mark and I continuedto be friends, even after I left, and during the period of time, of course, when Bob was so seriously ill, and shortly after his death, Mark was the acting 16:00general manager of the radio station, and we stayed in touch. Of course, at that time, I was a general manager too for Clear Channel back in Michigan, which is another story.
Everybody at that radio station, like I said, I think it was just the stars andthe moon, everything lined up so well, and we had all the right people at the right place. We had Perkey in the morning, we had you and McKelvin in the midday, we had Terry Meiners in the afternoon, Milton in the evening, and Donovan overnight, we had Van Vance doing sports talk. It was a very, very well-rounded radio station.
JF: It was a fun time, too. It really was a fun time. We had a lot of good times.
SE: It was a family, very much a family atmosphere.
JF: As I've done these interviews from the early times, from Hugh Barr, butthat's what keeps coming through. There was a continuity there and a community, 17:00where everybody was part of the job and everybody was proud of the product, and that was certainly there during your era, wasn't it?
SE: Right. Yes, it was.
JF: Let's talk about technical stuff. Do you remember who the engineers ... Youhad some technical interests also, I mean you wanted a good product.
SE: Charlie Strickland was the chief engineer and one of the hardest workingguys I ever saw. He was just absolutely remarkable. I'm trying to remember the name of the other engineer that was there. Right off the top of my head, I can't remember.
JF: Well, Larry Baysinger [crosstalk]-
SE: It was Larry Baysinger, that's it, thank you. Larry was there, and Charlie,and, boy, I'll tell you, those guys, they just worked and worked and worked and worked and worked. I used to wonder how Charlie ever got a break. That poor guy. I mean he was running all over the place. We used to do remotes everywhere, and we'd get that van and take off, and we'd be out Churchill Downs, and at the time you were doing Dawn at the Downs. You remember that, of course. 18:00
JF: Yeah, I sure do.
SE: And we had a little remote units, you have the little Marti units that Terrywould take around and do just some unbelievably creative radio. Just a time that you wish you could still go back and do stuff like that.
JF: Yeah, it's a different era, no question about that. Let's talk about theproduction department, that was also a big deal because it would produce campaign-type pieces, station image things. Who was there then?
SE: Scott Kettle.
JF: Scott Kettle, yeah.
SE: Scott Kettle was the production director. Part of any great radio station,something that I really strongly believe in, is the imaging of the radio station, the jingles and the promos and all of that. I think that that is so vital, it gives the radio station a real beat. Charlie, from an audio processing 19:00standpoint, really had that thing thumping, with just a little hint of reverb, made it really stand out. And then with the imaging that we did, and Scott would put together a lot of these things for me, I did a lot of them myself too in the production department, this was back in the days before you had any kind of digital equipment, everything was tape, razor blades and tape, so that's what we used to put this stuff together.
JF: Remember watching, maybe you helped too, we put, for example, the Derby Daymontage together, which became a real trademark, you'd have to sit back there for hours and take little pieces and put them all together, do you remember that?
SE: Scott would be there all day long on Derby Day, and he would be actuallyconstructing it as the day would go on so that by the time the actual Kentucky Derby ran, that would be the last element that he would put into the Derby Day montage, and we would have that thing on the air within maybe an hour after the whole thing was over. 20:00
JF: And it played all the next week, and we got some great [crosstalk] out of it.
SE: Yeah, we did, it was great.
JF: You enjoyed those kind of things, didn't you?
SE: I did. I loved it.
JF: Let's talk about the sports department. You mentioned Howard Schnellenbergerand the football team, but you worked with Van, and I guess Paul Rogers was around then, too, wasn't he?
SE: Yeah, Paul Rogers and Van Vance, and Sid Jenkins did a lot of stuff for us.
JF: Paul and Sid are still there by the way?
SE: Are they?
JF: I think Paul is the person who's been there the longest, over 40 years now.Then Helen Huber was right after that, and Terry Meiners has been there 30 years now, almost 30.
SE: That's amazing.
JF: Yeah, it is.
SE: So, we had a really good, well-rounded sports department. Jack Sutherlandwas the color guy for University of Louisville Basketball. And Doug James was 21:00our color guy for University of Louisville Football. And then we worked down a deal to bring the Wildcats back on WHAS.
JF: Which was a big deal.
SE: Kind of in a secondary position. There was a lot of politics involved inthat to make that happen, but we were able to have both on the air. That was really an accomplishment because, at the time, the Wildcats were not on WHAS, they had been somehow banished from the station some years before.
JF: It was pre-Skip.
SE: It was before me. I had made arrangements to go over, actually Milton Metzis the guy that paved the way for me to meet with the president of the University of Kentucky and the athletic director of the University of Kentucky at the time, and I can't remember the AD's name now. It'll come to me. 22:00
JF: Was it Cliff Hagan?
JF: Mitch Barnum.
SE: Nope, it was after him.
JF: The old coach, C. M. Newton.
SE: C. M. Newton, that was the guy. And so we put it together, and when we couldclear a live, we did, and when we couldn't, we taped delay and played back. So, that's how we were able to get the Wildcats back on HAS. Of course, part of that was running Cat Calls again too, which we did.
JF: One of the things that seemed to be impressive about the station during thatera was that it was the place to go to if something was happening and you wanted to know, you immediately turned on WHAS. Would you agree with that?
SE: I would. And I think probably that station more than anything else. It hadsuch an incredible reach in the state of Kentucky, and it had such a fabulous reputation. I don't think that there is any radio station that I've ever worked 23:00for that made such an impression on people for such a long period of time at that station has and probably still does.
JF: Yeah, it does. Let's talk about your on-air people. You worked with WaynePerkey. Wayne was there on the air for 30 years or so. Tell me about your relationship with Wayne and-
SE: Loved Wayne. I mean I got along with everybody, I didn't have a problem withanybody. Wayne was Wayne and he was just a wonderful guy. I thoroughly enjoyed working with him, and I had a very difficult time saying goodbye to him when I left. What can I say? I mean he was a drive time dominator for years. Wayne was one of those guys where if there was two or three people standing on a corner, Wayne Perkey would show up to shake their hand. Wayne was everywhere. He, more 24:00than anybody else I've ever worked with, knew how to go out and [inaudible].
JF: This is interesting, the groundwork for that was late back in the '70ssometime. We interviewed Hugh Barr, who was sort of the architect of all this modern-day, carving out the radio station from the TV and laying the ground, bringing in Perkey, and doing things like that. After the interview, he sent me a piece that had been printed as a print community promotion thing, and it listed all the activities that the station personalities had been involved in that month. I lost my breath just trying to read through it, where Wayne was, where Jerry David Melloy was, where Barney Arnold was, where I was, where everybody was. It was amazing. But that continued all up through, certainly, your time even.
SE: Yeah. And speaking of Barney Arnold, I didn't have an opportunity to workwith him, but I certainly got a chance to work with Fred Wiche.
JF: Fred Wiche, tell me about that.
SE: When I got there, Fred was the farm director, but Fred's real love was25:00horticulture, I mean he loved talking about growing things. And, of course, he had his own little company, called Green Thumb Productions. Fred and I really hit it off. He had that little segment every morning during the morning show with Wayne. It occurred to me that we ought to have a one-hour show with him every Saturday, just a whole one hour of Ask Fred. And Fred said he would love to do it, but he didn't want to come in. So, we set up a little Marti unit, Charlie went on and got him hooked up, put an antenna mast out there, we had an extra Marti laying around, and so Fred would that show every Saturday morning on his front porch.
JF: Take phone calls. I would be on the air before him, and I think [crosstalk]-26:00
SE: Yeah, because you did Saturday morning.
JF: But I promise you, the phone lines would start ringing at least 20 minutesbefore that program came on because people wanted to talk to Fred and ask him questions. It was great.
SE: Right. And from there, we actually developed Fred Wiche tours, where we tookpeople on garden tours over in England.
JF: Now, you set up many of those. Now, we went to Ireland. Was our trip thefirst one of those kind that you did through the station? Was Fred the first trip? We went in 1990 to Ireland, I remember that.
SE: That was the very first one we ever did. We went over there, you and I, andwe set that whole thing up. You were the Ireland guy.
JF: I made six of those trips, and I still, to this day, when people say, "I remember"-
SE: Did we really do that many?
JF: Well, I did six. You may have done more after that, I don't know, but I didsix, [crosstalk].
SE: But I'll tell you something, we took hundreds of people to Ireland. In fact,one year, Jack, and you may remember this, they gave me an award for taking people over to Ireland.
JF: We would show up at the Lord Mayor's ball. Now, this all came from your27:00connections though. When did these trips start? That wasn't your first one. You had done that in Grand Rapids, hadn't you?
SE: Yes, I had. We started that whole thing, I mean that goes back into like1986 or '87, somewhere in there. The whole idea came from "Let's go to Ireland for St. Patrick's Day," and that's how, it just sounded like a fun thing to do.
JF: Well, people looked forward to it every year, that was great.
SE: And back then, actually pulling off a broadcast from over there was a bigdeal. Now, not so much, I mean technology being what it is, it's no big deal to be able to do that. But back then, I mean you had to get there ahead of time, and there was a lot of work involved ahead of time, getting up phone lines and all that, to make sure that a venue ... We operated with some pretty cool hotels over there in Ireland. Jack, you remember that. And we used to actually have St. Patrick's Day parties on St. Patrick's Day while the broadcast was going on. 28:00
JF: That's right. I still have people today say, "I remember those broadcasts. Iremember one Saturday morning I was going to visit my mother down in Southeastern Kentucky and listened to you all the way." That was great stuff.
SE: They were fun.
JF: So, you did some with Fred. Were there some other trips like that that youlined up? You were-
SE: No, the only thing that we ever did was we did Ireland and we did the gardentours with Fred over in Great Britain. And I think we actually did maybe two or three broadcasts over there in London. There in London, where the Tower Hotel is, we used to stay at the Tower Hotel, it's right by Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, and Fred Wiche just used to love to go into this pub at the Tower Hotel with the most magnificent view of Tower Bridge over the Thames River. I 29:00just have such fond memories of Fred in there, going, "You know, this is one of my most favorite places I've ever been." It was a lot of fun.
JF: Well, it's 2014 and people still talk about those today too, people mentionthose to me. Great stuff. Good stuff. You had a good relationship with Milton Metz, of course.
SE: Yep, Milton. I still like to tell Milton Metz stories because-
SE: They will. And I'm so glad to hear that he's still doing his thing. What agentleman. Class all the way. We always had such good times when we would personally get together too. That's the thing about everybody there, we worked together, but we also did a lot of playing around together too. Milton was a wonderful man and still is. 30:00
JF: Yeah, still is, still going strong.
JF: What other impressions do you have of that era? Anything else that comes toyour mind immediately?
SE: Well, I always enjoyed working with you, I thought you were one of theeasiest-going people I've ever worked with. Doug McKelvin, I didn't get a chance to work with Doug as long as I wanted to. We've remained friends. Shortly after, I think I was there maybe two years, and Doug moved on and had moved on to St. Louis to do mornings at KMOX, and he's still there. And, of course, obviously Terry Meiners and Joe Donovan.
Terry's probably one of the most creative people I've ever worked with at night,and Joe Donovan, at night, the man had an unbelievable record library. I was so sorry to hear about his passing recently, it's too bad. But every now and then, 31:00Joe used to just drive me crazy. I'd call him up in the middle of the night and say, "What in the heck is that song?" He said, "Well, that was" whatever it might be, "Margaret Whiting," and I said, "Well, Joe, Margaret Whiting, really?" And he would defend it and I'd always let him play it, and that was that.
JF: What's interesting is that, we talked off the air, Joe passed away this pastweekend, and Facebook and the internet had just filled up with tributes to Joe from that program. He's been off the air since 1999, I think, but people still Facebook tributes from around the country really, say, "We love Joe Donovan, we love this and that," but that's what it was, that was a special time. Very good.
SE: Right. You know the one thing-
JF: Go ahead.
SE: The one thing I never considered myself very good at was music programming,32:00and the radio station still played music, and Doug was very, very helpful, McKelvin, at music programming. I really never was. And then, of course, there was the transition that happened from when we knew that eventually we would have to move the station more into a talk format, so that all happened under my watch.
JF: Talk about that some. You began to hear the name Rush Limbaugh pop up overand over again. He was not on our station.
SE: No, he was over on 790, and he was starting to make big inroads,rating-wise. I made the gamble of putting him on. There were a lot of people that thought that that was just a bad idea. But I knew that for the survival of the radio station, we'd have to move it to a talk format. And that's never easy to do. Wayne did not like it. And when we started doing that, that's when it got 33:00a little bit uncomfortable because the internal bickering began, and people started getting very, very political. In Charlie Brown, Linus said there's one thing you never want to talk about, religion and politics, and he's right. But, still, we put Rush Limbaugh on the air, and we had success with ratings, so that's what happened there. You had left the station to venture forth in Amway. That was a tough departure change for me because of our relationship over all those years.
JF: It worked out well. That was when you brought in Jane Norris, wasn't it?
SE: I brought in Jane Norris. And so with Rush and Jane, then we started to see34:00the radio station really transform over into a news talk format.
JF: Of course, you were not there too much longer after that, but that had tochange the dynamics, a little bit anyway, of community involvement, things like that, or it was just transition that into the talk format? Did you see a difference there or feel a difference at all?
SE: Well, I mean the fabric of the radio station started to change somewhat. Imean you still had the element of Wayne in the morning.
JF: You still had the sports.
SE: And Terry in the afternoon and all of the sports. We very carefully startedchanging the station over to a full-fledged talk format. Let's face it, the 35:00morning show was all talk anyhow, very little music in that. And Terry hardly ever played any music, so essentially the station then became a talk radio station. But it still had that energy and beat, and it still sounded very, very contemporary for being a talk radio station.
JF: It did, yeah. I will tell you this, I remember this, and this is not areflection on me or anybody else, but I remember when I went off the air that day, and I think Jane then started, and she was all talk, Bob Hill was a columnist for The Courier-Journal and wrote a column titled The Day the Music Died. All he meant was that we had transitioned, that's what it meant, that's what I'm saying, I'm not saying [crosstalk], that's what it was. 36:00
SE: The day that Rush Limbaugh went on the air on WHAS, I can't remember theradio TV columnist for The Courier-Journal, but on the front page of the paper, it said "WHAS Making a Big Mistake?"
JF: I'll be darned. Isn't that something? I didn't remember that. That'sinteresting. Well, we had some good times together and some good memories, and things move on, and in 1995, did you say, you had an opportunity to go where, to Detroit, is that where you went?
SE: Yes. Much to the chagrin of Terry Meiners, who kept teasing me that he wasgoing to get me a flapjack at ...
JF: How'd that come about and what were your feelings about that, about moving?
SE: Well, WJR is just one of those great, big, huge radio stations that I thought-
SE: "You know what? I'm going to go there and I'm going to try and make that37:00radio station more like WHAS." I thought that I could do that. That did not happen. I went, I left in '95. All the elements were in place, I had thought, to do what I wanted to do with the radio station, but there were a couple things about it. First of all, it had been doing the same things for so long that trying to make any kind of a change on that radio station was very difficult. The morning guy of WJR in Detroit was a guy by the name of J. P. McCarthy.
JF: Goodness, there forever.
SE: And I thought, "You know what? As long as I got McCarthy, everything isgoing to be fine. And as long as I got McCarthy on my side, everything is going 38:00to be fine." So, I got to Detroit and J. P. McCarthy died six weeks after I got there.
JF: Oh my goodness, I didn't know that.
SE: Yep. And so thus began, and he died of a very rare blood disorder, and itcame on suddenly, I mean it was just like boom, it happened. So, my time at WJR was spent rebuilding WJR because once J. P. McCarthy passes away, I mean now you got to rebuild the whole-
JF: He was an institution, yeah.
SE: So, the whole radio station, it was a ground-up restoration. And I spent theentire year I was there doing that. We hired a new morning personality, Paul W. Smith, who's still there and he's been there ever since. I hired a fellow by the name of Mitch Albom, who was a columnist and ESPN reporter, author of Tuesdays 39:00with Morrie. In fact, I used to joke with people that when I met and was negotiating with Mitch to do the show, he was writing Tuesdays with Morrie, but he spent Wednesdays with Skip.
We just developed that show and we launched all of this in January of '96.McCarthy died in August of '95, and shortly after I got there, seriously I'd only been there six weeks when he died, and we launched everything on the 1st of January of 1996. Pretty much a lot of that stuff is still in place. Albom is still there. And Paul W. Smith is still doing the morning show. A fellow by the 40:00name of Frank Beckmann, he is still there. So, a lot of those people are still there. Hey, Jack, can you hang on just a second? Can we pause this?
JF: Yeah, we'll pause it here.
SE: Okay, thanks. Hang on. Hello, this is Skip. Hey, Sheriff. Yeah, I am stillon this call, so I'm going to call you back. I haven't even had a chance to look to see where that stuff is. What's a good number for me to call you?