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Jack Fox: Okay. Well, it is Thursday, December 13th. We missed the 12/12/12, Ed.

Ed Shadburne: We sure did.

JF: So it's 12/13/12, 2012. I'm talking with Ed Shadburne, a name that has been associated with many broadcast properties throughout the State of Kentucky and here in Louisville, and we're going to talk about his background and then his association with WHAS. But you had a lot of experience before you came to WHAS, Ed. Where did you start your ... You're from Louisville originally, right?

ES: Right.

JF: And educated here in Louisville?

ES: Yeah, Male High School and then I attended Centre College in Danville and that's where I started. That was the first radio job I had.

JF: Oh really, in Danville?

ES: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

JF: Was it a college radio station or commercial radio station?

ES: No, it was commercial, WHIR.

JF: What did you do there?

ES: Well, I was a part-time announcer.

JF: All right. What does part-time announcers do at WHIR in Danville, Kentucky?

ES: They announce part-time but I started out at 35 cents an hour and this was 1:001946 and the station was about eight or nine miles outside of town and I'd have to hitchhike out there. They put me on the morning shift. I couldn't get there in time to open up the station but the engineer did that. He made do for a while but this was a time when every little small town wanted a radio station and the FCC had began to relax. It used to be kind of a closed company, the FCC. Only big cities were the ones that had the stations but they relaxed the license requirements considerably after World War II and everybody wanted one. And HIR stood for Highbaugh, Isaac, and Russell which were the three owners of the station.

JF: I always wondered about that, what that stood for.

ES: Yep. That's where I got my start.

JF: How long were you there? All through college or ...


ES: No, I didn't stay in school. I had a good friend named Jack Everback. Jack was from Louisville and we'd grown up together and he was working for a little radio station down in North Carolina and then moved on to Mobile, Alabama, WMOB. He called me and said they had an opening at WMOB for an announcer. Well, 35 ... I think I got a raise to 50 cents an hour.

JF: By the way, was being an announcer always one of your desires or did you just kind of drift into it while you were in college or ...

ES: Well, he kind of sold me on it.

JF: Oh, okay.

ES: He said it's easy work. But I really had a big interest in sports and I did a little of that while at HIR but not much as a part-time person. The situation came up that he called me and said they had an opening at MOB and they'd start me at $68.50 a week. I said, there's not that much money in the world so I 3:00dropped out of school. And that was good experience. He and I roomed together, had a little apartment, and lived in Mobile. And that was back when the larger stations had network affiliations. This was prior to television. And I had the night shift. Jack had the afternoon shift. It worked out fine. We had a big time down there.

JF: You were in Mobile how long?

ES: I guess it wasn't even eight months.

JF: Oh, really?

ES: Bettie and I were scheduled to get married in June when she graduated from Centre. About that time I went up and we got married and brought Bettie back and there was some shifting going on. I'm trying to think who owned that station but 4:00they were out of Lexington. They owned WLAP in Lexington too. And some union problems and I never joined. The announcers had a union but I never joined and management, they told me, "We're just hiring you on a temporary basis so we don't have to put you in the union." So you know how those things worked. Anyway, it didn't get really nasty but it wasn't very nice.

ES: Jack got an offer from, I think it was KLO, WKLO in Louisville, so I turned in my resignation too and came back to Danville as a full-time announcer. And I got to do some sports stuff then. You interrupt me and stop me. I don't want to talk too much.

JF: You're doing great. You're doing great. No, you're doing great.

ES: So then after that, let's see ... It's amazing, looking back on my career, 5:00how many jobs I had with tips from my wife's friends.

JF: That was a good partnership in a lot of ways [crosstalk].

ES: Oh, it sure was and she had a friend who lived in Paintsville and they were putting a station on the air, WSIP, so I applied as program director and I got it. Well, I'm not sure. Bettie's beginning to catch on here. She'd like to stick some roots down somewhere. But the station was owned by an ex-congressman named Howesie Meade and he was the only one-term congressman I ever met. He went to congress and voted for Taft-Hartley. This was up in coal country so he lasted about ... One term was it.

ES: But we really had a big time up there. They're marvelous people and-


JF: Did you have exposure to Eastern Kentucky before? Is that kind of a different-

ES: Well, Bettie was from-

JF: Oh, I see. Oh, I see.

ES: She was from Middlesboro, yeah. But two important things happened in broadcasting about that time, or to me, anyway. The first one was the FCC came out and said you could editorialize. Prior to that time stations were not allowed to editorialize. The restrictions, the rules were pretty tough but as long as you made time available for someone to reply to what you were saying or pushing, you were okay.

JF: This was in the late '40s is that [inaudible]?

ES: Yeah.

JF: Yeah.

ES: It was about 1949, I think. And then we started doing some editorials but they were all for mother and against sin. We didn't do anything really controversial but what we did do was get this town behind a park that had a swimming pool. They had to public swimming pool in Paintsville. And, gosh, the 7:00Rotary Club got behind us and all this other. It was great, great PR.

JF: Real community effort, yeah.

ES: And our first child was born there. She was born in the Picklesimer Clinic in Paintsville. I'm just kind of hopscotching around here. There was one other thing that happened to me there that I'll never forget as long as I live. They were putting different music licensing firms like ASCAP and SESAC and BMI were putting on these program director clinics in New York so I convinced Howesie to send me up there to one. I'd never been to New York in my life. But it was good training for me. They did a lot of good things, mainly not so much how to talk on radio but the procedures that you go through to get a program on the air. At 8:00the end of the day they said, "We've got theater tickets here for you if you'd like to go in a theater, and we have a broadcast." Milton Berle was just getting started up there then. And I got this guy aside and I said, "I'd like to meet Edward R. Murrow." They called over at CBS. They said, "Yeah, send him over." I went over there about 4:30, introduced to him. We sat in his office while he put his newscast together.

JF: Oh, my goodness.

ES: I didn't say much while he was working. And then sat in the studio with him while he was on the air. And his commercial announcer was who? Campbell soup was his sponsor, I remember that. But anyway, then we went down and had a drink in the bar in the building.

JF: Edward R. Murrow, wow.

ES: And he was just about the nicest guy I've ever seen. He was from out West. 9:00He was from, gosh, was it Washington or Oregon. Anyway, Washington state, I think. And just a really down-to-earth person but a good newsman. The last thing he said to me was, "You're in coal country, aren't you?" And I said, "Yeah." And he said, "If you ever get a strike, call me." So I wrote him a letter and thanked him and this was before he really got into television. He was just doing radio then. But for a 24-25-year-old guy, I'm telling you, I was really impressed.

JF: That's big time. Yeah, yeah. That started a ... I'm sure you had communication with him over the years probably too, didn't you?

ES: No, I didn't, mainly because I was moving around so much and he had, as you know in his biography, he had real problems with CBS management on how he should handle television. They were getting a lot of sponsor pressure from ... And 10:00those guys, they didn't know a whole hell of a lot about ... Nobody knew anything about television [crosstalk].

JF: Sure, it was all getting started and then really cranking up.

ES: That's right. So I never talked to him again. I saw him one time at a CBS meeting on the West Coast but he was there and it was just a sort time in and out. He didn't visit with many people.

JF: You're program director. Are you doing some on-air stuff also?

ES: Oh, yeah. Goodness gracious.

JF: Did you have a lot of network programs then or was it all local stuff?

ES: Well, no. We started out we were just music, sign on and sign off. Then we picked up Mutual and that was a big help, their news especially. But I opened up the station, did a 15-minute newscast. We had, I think AP or UP. I can't remember which one.

JF: That's the teletype wire in the back. You go take the copy off and sit down and-

ES: Absolutely. Absolutely.

JF: Is Paintsville where you had your famous sports calling, your sports 11:00announcing experience?

ES: Oh, Lord yes. Lord yes.

JF: Tell us about that. It's a great story.

ES: The general manager was doing the play by play.

JF: It's a local football game.

ES: Local football game. And Paintsville was playing Prestonsburg, a big rivalry. And he didn't show. I was up in the booth doing the color, the band is coming on the field and this, that, and the other. But he didn't show up and the owner of the station was there and he didn't know where he was either. So he said, "You're going to have to do the game." I said, "Oh, my gosh." All I had was a program but I knew most of the players. I'd gone out and watched practice on the Paintsville team. I didn't have any idea who Prestonsburg was. But I got along all right. I guess it was the second quarter of the football game and a Paintsville kid intercepted a pass. There's no doubt he was ... Nobody within 25 12:00yards of him. So he's sailing down the sideline and I'm saying, "He's at the 35, the 40, the 45, the 50, the 55, the 60, the 65." I had him up to the 80-yard line before I realized what I had done.

JF: They go down after that.

ES: Cawood Ledford went to Centre with us and he was from Harlan and knew Bettie. He did a couple of dates with Bettie. I told him what I'd done and Cawood said, "Give it up, Ed." He could say it all in very few words.

JF: Sage advice.

ES: Yeah.

JF: Oh, I see. Well, that didn't end your career in Paintsville, though.

ES: Oh, no. I'm sorry.

JF: Here, I'll just put this on pause. Here, we're okay.

ES: I'm sorry.

JF: No problem. Okay, we're back on again so that did not end your career in Paintsville?ES: No, no. It didn't. I stayed on. I took a little ribbing.

JF: I'm sure. You may have wanted to leave town.


ES: Yeah.

JF: How long were you at Paintsville?

ES: Couple years. Then Meade sold the station and a fellow came in there from Huntington, excuse me, West Virginia. And one of those things where chemically we just didn't see eye to eye and so eventually I just quit. I didn't have another job, and moved back to Louisville, moved in with my mother, Bettie and I and my daughter Sue. And, of course, Mom was just tickled to death to have us there but I finally got a job at WAVE TV in sales, and they were just starting up.

JF: This was when, 19 ...?

ES: This was 1950, '51, somewhere along in there. In the sales department. That was a real education.

JF: Did you do sales at Paintsville also?


ES: No, no, no, no. That was my first-

JF: So this was a new area for you then.

ES: First sales job and boy it was just ... WAVE was the first TV station in Louisville, and Kentucky as far as that goes. When I went there they didn't sign on until 1:00 in the afternoon.

JF: Had that test pattern up there all that time.

ES: That's so people could adjust their sets, of course. They signed off about 10:00 or 11:00 and the only network programming was on kinescope. We were not interconnected. But it was a fun time. Things were just happening all the time.

JF: What was it like because this is a new medium although it's a secure medium but what was it like to sell against that? Because radio was very popular then [crosstalk]-

ES: Of course it was-

JF: ... newspaper was big. Sales had some competition, wasn't it pretty heavy competition?

ES: It was, it was. And then HAS came on the air 1950, somewhere along in there. 15:00And they were on Channel 9 and WAVE was on Channel 5. So later the commission changed it. They reallocated the whole spectrum because they wanted to encourage UHF television. We used to say, "You'll soon go blind on Channel 9," or something like that. But they had problems. But then they built a tall tower and improved their signal considerably and 11 was their home.

JF: Did the Norton family own WAVE then?

ES: Yeah.

JF: So you had the Norton family and the Bingham family then. They were two well-established families.

ES: And we had heard, I heard this from a national sales rep, an old fellow that had been in the business for a long time named Free & Peters was the name of the company in New York and they took care of selling advertising for us nationally 16:00on national advertise. This guy claimed that Mr. Bingham and Mr. Norton were pretty good friends and that he encouraged Norton to build his first radio station, to build WAVE. And this was back when, I think, Jack and I ... Maybe you can confirm this someplace, but that LAP in Lexington, who was originally in Louisville and then it moved to Lexington. And then HAS came on in '21, I think, '22. And then WAVE came on later. But it was interesting how the two families interconnected in the same city. And you look back today where we don't have a single locally owned station in the whole market.

JF: Big change, yeah.

ES: And how much those folks contributed to this community.


JF: Both very strong families and very strong community backers.

ES: That's right. But, anyway, I got a call from ... Well, I'm going to talk a little bit about that. Local programming was the backbone then of television. Because people were making up game shows and what's interesting to me today, I think the reason for it is network is not compensating stations today like they used to. And so stations are looking to more local programming because they can make more money on it. And you're starting to see a little initiative from our local stations here on some locally produced programming.

JF: Interesting. Right when you thought they were going to be completely gone [crosstalk].

ES: Yeah, that's right. But we did everything. I was in a performance one night. All I had to do was just stand there as backdrop. There was a guy in town, Burt Blackwell and George Patterson were two really good radio guys and they used to 18:00do a man-on-the-street show that was just great on radio. And Burt was a marvelous writer and he would write these plays and then local folks would put them on. I was a detective that led somebody in and then I was to take a place in the background. Well, with my extensive TV experience I had, there was a file cabinet there that I was supposed to stand by. Well, I put an elbow up on the file cabinet and leaned back like I was going to lean ... Well, it wasn't a real wall and the wall began to waver slightly but I caught myself. I didn't fall through.

JF: It was live TV then, yeah.

ES: Oh, absolutely live. We didn't have anything else. But I'm kind of jumping around here but from there ...

JF: You were in sales still. When did you get in management? Was that at WAVE or was that-

ES: No, no. I went out West. The chief engineer, the R of WHIR, Russell, had 19:00gone and moved. He and the HIR people had a falling out and so he moved out to Colorado Springs, Colorado and bought KVOR, a radio station. And then he and another fellow from Pueblo, the two companies got together and applied for a license in Colorado Springs, TV license. When was that? Gee whiz, it was 1951 or so, '52 I guess it was. So I was employed as a sales person out there. Jim hired me and we moved out there. And, of course, that's the garden spot of the world.

JF: Yep.

ES: It really was at that time. But we had a lot of problems. Weather was a big, big consideration out there where construction was concerned. Our legal advisor, 20:00everybody's got a Washington attorney, I think they had permission, told them to go ahead and build in the fall because after that they wouldn't be able to build till spring in the facilities up on top of Cheyenne Mountain out there.

JF: Sure, yep.

ES: And so they went ahead, beautiful facilities complete with a little apartment for engineers in case they got snowed in or whatever. Well, we got our license but they said we couldn't use anything we'd already built.

JF: Oh, my goodness.

ES: That's what they called anticipation of a license. They were tough in those days.

JF: Wow.

ES: Well, they were feeling around. They didn't know what was going on.

JF: All new to them.

ES: These were both VHF stations. I can't remember which channel we were on. But here again I was in sales and it was a great place to live. And then Bettie's family had some health problems so we took a vacation in the wintertime, which 21:00was kind of a dumb thing to do, where I could attend the Kentucky Broadcasters Association meeting and I hooked up with a couple of guys there from Harlan, Kentucky and they owned three stations, Cumberland, Harlan, and one over in Norton, Virginia. So I got a job there to manage the one in Cumberland. And so, and I'll tell you, we're gypsies in this business but anyway, we moved to Cumberland.

ES: And it was a single-station market but we had plenty of competition from Harlan and from Whitesburg. Matter of fact, Whitesburg always had a sales team over there trying to sell our customers. That was a really interesting experience, Jack, because everything in the world happened to us, not only on 22:00the air but business and everything else. First of all, the town had a locally-owned telephone company and you didn't need a number, just "Give me Joe Smith's office," one of those. And it was remarkable. "Well, he's out to lunch. He'll be back in an hour."

JF: That's the operator telling [crosstalk].

ES: The operator telling me all this. Everybody just took it for granted. That's the greatest telephone service in the world.

JF: Sure, you bet. Personal service.

ES: We were there ... Well, it doesn't matter. We had some good times. I'll get to the where we were there in a minute. I never managed anything in my life but the interesting part of this whole deal, how I got the station, I didn't have 23:00any money. They called me up and they said, "We want you to buy our radio station." I said, "Well, I can't. I haven't got any money." "We'll give you the money." So they gave me the money for a down payment on their radio station and I thought, "Well, boy. I'm dead and in heaven." And I filed a application, filled out the application and sent it to the FCC.

ES: The lawyer says there was one line in the application, why are you buying this radio station? I said, "To make money." That application came back quicker than you can ... I called somebody else I knew and they said you better say something about public service in there. So I refiled and it was approved. And then we were there, trying to think where Margaret ... Oh, Margaret was born in Louisville, that's right, my second daughter. That's how I measure things. And in Cumberland we had a lot of good folks there that were trying to upgrade that 24:00community. Cumberland, Benham, and Lynch. They called in the Tri-Cities.

JF: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yep.

ES: And all of it coal oriented. Unions were pretty good and most workers had jobs, not like it is today.

JF: This is in the early to mid '50s now? We're in the early to mid '50s?

ES: Yeah. This was 19 ... So the coal mines paid off every other Friday and they called it Payday Weekend. Payday Weekend our log looked like somebody slashed their wrists on it. So much red on it you couldn't believe it. Loaded with commercials. But then the other Friday was nothing at all so I tried to design some program packages that would give us some revenue, get it more-


JF: Even it out a little bit, yeah.

ES: Yeah, absolutely. And it did. They bought the concept so we did all right. Some sidebars, though. We would do the football games for Cumberland and Benham because they had the football field that was used by all three communities.

JF: Did they ask you to call them, by the way?

ES: Smart [inaudible]. I did it, yes. I did it. I'd learned not to be auditioned. But the telephone situation. None of us had remote transmitters in those days. They weren't even available, I don't think. But we had telephone lines and the Lynch telephone service ... Lynch was owned by US Steel and Benham was owned by International Harvester. Lynch phone service was Southern Bell but to get out of there and to Harlan they had to go through our local switchboard.


JF: Who knows when they've gone to lunch.

ES: That's right. And I was doing, I forget who they were playing, but anyway we were broadcasting from Benham and I turn around and here's Bettie. I said, "What are you doing here? What's wrong?" And she said, "Do you know you've been broadcasting every long-distance telephone call from Lynch, Kentucky for the last quarter?" And I said, "No." She had to get out of the place in her car and go down to the phone company and tell them what had happened because there was only one line. So she did and they unplugged us and plugged us where we were supposed to be. But Bettie was laughing her head off. She said, "You should've heard some of those calls you were broadcasting."

JF: I wondered about that. You talk about a local phone company [crosstalk] tapping into your broadcasting. That would have an effect on it.

ES: That's right. That's right. That's right. But one good thing about it, locally owned, and the guy that ran it, the manager, was a neat fellow and we'd 27:00go to a Rotary Club meeting or something and they'd say, "Well, Shadburne, can you broadcast this?" I'd say, "If Charlie will give me the line, I'll do it." Charlie said, "Yeah, I'll volunteer the line."

JF: That's community radio.

ES: It really was.

JF: Sounds like a good time.

ES: We did, we had a lot of fun.

JF: So you eventually sell that station then?

ES: Yep, we did, at a profit.

JF: That's good. The guys gave you the money to buy it and you did it and then you sold it at a profit. That's a good deal.

ES: That's right. Absolutely. Not much but we got out of there with our shirts. And meanwhile, what made us move, Margaret was in kindergarten. Sue was in the first grade and Margaret came home and she said, "Dad and Mom, we've been studying compound words." And Bettie, the old English major, said, "Oh." She said, "Give me an example." So Margaret said, "Therefore and whereas and [rite-cheer]."

JF: It's time to go.

ES: That's right. Bettie looked at me and I said, "We're out of here." It took 28:00us maybe six or eight months after that to sell it. But anyway, I thought I was going to go to Henderson, Kentucky to manage that station there. Meanwhile, in all this other stuff I'd gotten into with Kentucky Broadcasters, I ended up being secretary-treasurer for four or five years. And during that time there was a certain maturity ... As I say, I was in the second-generation genre, if you want to call it that of broadcasters. The original bunch, let me put it that way, would go to these meetings and depending on who didn't like who, they'd end 29:00up in fist fights. So there wasn't a lot of class in this group. Don't get me wrong, there were guys in there that were classy people.

JF: The atmosphere was such that-

ES: But the atmosphere was such that ...

JF: It was still a pretty young industry [crosstalk]-

ES: Oh, gosh yes. It sure was. That's right.

JF: ... certainly television but even radio was still a fairly young medium at that time.

ES: Owensboro, Paducah, Henderson, Eastern Kentucky I can't remember. Ashland, I guess. But they were all kind of the backbone, Lexington certainly, of really trying to get some legislative things done in Kentucky and nationally too. But anyway, I ended up in Tampa, Florida and that was my experience with African-American radio.


JF: In Tampa?

ES: And this guy that owned ... In Tampa, yeah. Oh, we loved it down there and my good friend, Jack Everback was manager and I was his assistant manager.

JF: This is the middle to late '50s now or when is this?

ES: Yep. No, it would be late '50s-

JF: Early '60s.

ES: ... early '60s.

JF: Okay.

ES: And it was a change certainly for me. You're so used to working for nice diction and for classy announcers. These guys they're all over the map but great people. I'm not knocking-

JF: Different style, yep.

ES: It was just their way. And I had to learn. I was the learner, not the 31:00teacher. And anyway, we were only there maybe six months and Ron Seville transferred me back to Louisville. He owned six or seven radio stations. The only general market station he had was in Atlanta but he had stations in New Orleans and two in Florida, Miami and Tampa, Cincinnati, Louisville. So I went up there as general manager and there again it was-

JF: Which station was this now?



ES: And there again it was an adjustment I went through. I had an excellent assistant manager, Bill Summers. Bill later became owner of that station and a real mover-

JF: And a real distinguished career here [crosstalk]-

ES: Absolutely, he sure did.

JF: ... community leader.

ES: He sure did.

JF: Articulate guy.

ES: He was. And a good guy on top of everything. He could do anything and lot of 32:00good stories there but I think Louisville was in a transition there of trying to get NAACP working to get businesses integrated and they also ... The lower end of Fourth Street at that time, the north-most end of Fourth Street was most of these little credit clothing stores which actually I felt like kind of preyed ... I'm not sure I want to use that word but they sure took advantage of low-income blacks. I always felt a little guilty running their commercials because they would promise things that they wouldn't deliver on and-

JF: And where was this on Fourth Street? Where?


ES: They're not there anymore.

JF: Oh, okay. Okay.

ES: It started where, I'd say Jefferson North, Jefferson Street North.

JF: Okay, okay. So downtown right-

ES: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Right. Sure was. And then meanwhile, I wasn't with them then but the government came in and West Muhammad Ali now, was where all the black businesses were. And when urban renewal came in they just wiped them out. And I often wondered where they all went. I don't think I was with the station then but sure hit the area.

JF: Yeah, because that was a major corridor really. That was a-

ES: Oh, yes. It sure was. And I used to go with Bill occasionally, make calls with him. And these were good businesses, fellows that were doing real well and they just had to get out of it. They tried to move some of them and some of 34:00them, I think, were successful but not many. Oh, and I don't want to say that either. I really don't know, I guess, is what I'm trying to say. But there were a lot of guys that didn't make it.

JF: Certainly it changed, though.

ES: Oh, absolutely.

JF: Big change. So you were in Louisville to stay then from that time on? Did you go out of town-ES: No. Let me figure here. Where'd I go?

JF: You're at WLOU and-

ES: While I was here ... Oh, and then he transferred me back to Florida again, same station.

JF: Oh, okay.

ES: That's when we were up here on vacation or something and Channel 32 was trying to come on the air. And I went over and talked to Holman Wilson who was the force behind putting together a group to apply for Channel 32's license. They were on the air and fellow named ... Oh, dear me, what was his name? Doesn't matter, I'll have to look it up. General manager and a great guy. He had a lot of TV experience. Bear in mind the only TV experience I'd had was in WAVE 35:00years ago.

JF: As a sales person.

ES: Yep. But the long story short, I ended up coming back as sales manager at 32 and then the man that was ... Barry Smith, that's who it was. Barry Smith. Barry was from down around Evansville and the ownership of Channel 32 was, gosh, some of the biggest names in the city of Louisville, Dillman Rash-

JF: Really?

ES: ... and Bill Kutchins. One of the owners lived in Evansville, to make it 36:00shortened a little bit, this owner, and I can't remember him at all, got Barry Smith to come back and run another station he was involved in so that opened it up for me. And this was a real opportunity for me but also a heck of a job because we not only had no audience, we didn't even have TV sets able to receive us.

JF: You were a UHF station, Channel 32, that's right. Yeah.

ES: UHF station, that's right. So we had two priorities. Number one get some money in. But number two, promoting the station to where people would go out and buy a little box so they could pick up UHF. The FCC came in then and they said 37:00manufacturers have X number of years to get all-channel sets on the market. That helped us tremendously. But we were supposed to be ABC affiliated and ABC would offer their programming to WAVE or HAS before they'd offer it to us. We had no audience, I can't blame them.

JF: Yeah, [crosstalk].

ES: But I had a marvelous staff over there, I really did. I think there were 31 of us eventually. And Bill ... Who am I thinking about? Doesn't matter. We had Bob Taylor who was production manager.

JF: Oh, yeah.

ES: He worked at HAS for a while-

JF: Sure did.

ES: ... and he came over there with me. And Bob and an excellent sales staff, you had to be. Willie Delaney was sales manager and he'd come from WAVE and he 38:00was also the son-in-law of Archie Cochran, one of the owners. And Archie Cochran called me up one day at work. He said, "Well, you've hired my son-in-law." He said, "If he doesn't work, kick his ass out of there." Archie was that kind of guy. He was a marvelous person, marvelous guy.

JF: Yep.

ES: And I don't know how we got into it but sometime he said, "Did I ever tell you about the time that I bombed Miami Beach?" I said, "No sir."

JF: But I want to listen.

ES: Yeah, I sure want to hear this. But anyway, he was a bombardier in World War I.

JF: Oh, my gosh.

ES: And he trained in Miami and they would bomb the beach with sandbags. They had no equipment. They'd just go by guess and by golly, drop sandbags to learn how to drop bombs. But he was all business and a great help. They all were. They all were. But the long and the short of that was we began to make a niche in the market and making some money. Matter of fact, we were turning more profit than HAS when I came over there, and with 32 people.


JF: Yeah, overhead would make a big difference.

ES: Ken Rowland came onboard and that upgraded our news considerably.

JF: He'd been a newsman, a radio newsman and even a radio newsman-

ES: Yep, at KLO radio. But I don't think it was his first TV job. I can't remember. And then, of course, eventually we got Diane Sawyer as a weather person. But that station was fun. It really was because we knew we were the underdogs and everybody pulled together to make it good and it was really fun. Eventually it became so competitive. In those days ... I sound like I'm reading the bible, but in those days the FCC would give out financial information for 40:00the market. So there were X number of dollars spent in Louisville on television advertising. And we'd get copies. Well, I buddied up with somebody over at WAVE and so we knew what HAS ... We'd take ours, combine it and subtract it and that's what HAS did. And it was too bad because they had the facility and everything but it was a good companionship that we had for both of us. It helped me an awful lot to know where we were and how-

JF: Was WAVE television the dominant factor-

ES: Oh, boy, was it ever?

JF: ... [crosstalk] they were the dominant factor.

ES: They were. I'm trying to think. I'm sure for years and years.

JF: Yeah, yeah. Oh, yeah.

ES: But they were a much better managed TV and radio company than HAS was but 41:00there are reasons for that and I understand it but it was an interesting time and-

JF: How long were you at LKY, Channel 32?

ES: Seven years.

JF: Really?

ES: I came there in '62 or '63 and left there in 1970 to go to WHAS. But then eventually, I'm kind of hopscotching here, they decided they wanted to sell the station because Channel 41 was getting ready to come on the air and these guys were investors and they were in it for the bucks, and that's fine.

JF: And the FCC approved that?

ES: Yeah. Oh, sure.

JF: In it for the bucks, I mean.


ES: Yeah.

JF: You had a problem with that.

ES: Yeah, the FCC would approve anything that had UHF on it they were so anxious ... And they were right.

JF: Yeah, that's right. Yeah.

ES: But anyway, they sold the station to Sonderling Broadcasting which was primarily an African-American radio company, not ownership but program. And they had the big station in Memphis that had about 60% of the audience in Memphis, which their population was well over 50% in Memphis, I'm sure. But anyway, they came in and they were just starting to buy some TV stations and they wanted me to be thinking about moving to New York. And Bettie and I talked it over. She 43:00wanted to go and I said, "I don't."

JF: Yeah.

ES: I didn't know these people well enough for us to pick up the family and move out of town-

JF: Take roots and all that, yeah.

ES: One thing I always tried to do is who am I working for and will they listen to me, will I listen to them. That was the important thing.

JF: Okay.

ES: And anyway, I forget how I met Cy MacKinnon somewhere socially.

JF: Cy is big with the Binghams and the newspaper.

ES: Yeah. And he asked me would I be interested in moving. They were looking to early retire or do something with Vic Sholis. He was then GM, president, and so forth. And it worked out. I had no idea what I was getting into. But, albeit, it 44:00was a good relationship. I had to do some things that-

JF: 1970. That was a transition time, though, in television, wasn't it?

ES: Yeah, sure was.

JF: And radio and television had a lot of employees who had been there and you're making some transitions. Talk about that a little bit. It's 1970 you said?ES: Well, Hugh Barr was just a second coming as far as I was concerned. He was there before I was at HAS.

JF: He was the program director of radio.

ES: Right. That's right. I'm sorry, yeah-

JF: WHAS radio.

ES: ... PD. And he was with it. He knew what was going on in that business.

JF: He was already trying to carve things for the radio-

ES: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. We were still putting on farm programming. In the little market, the only 50-kilowatt, clear-channel station in the state, we were probably running fifth-

JF: Yeah.

ES: ... or sixth. Somewhere along in there. The FM was classical music. That was in 150th, I think, in the market.

JF: Yeah, yeah. That's kind of the way the Bingham family wanted it. Their 45:00approach, up to that point, anyway, had not necessarily been a big emphasis on profit in radio and television.

ES: That's right.

JF: Had it more in community service and everything or ...

ES: It was service, you're right on the money there. But, all of a sudden they woke up.

JF: Had to.

ES: And it was costing them a pretty book. It was interesting, Bettie and I had lunch over at the MacKinnon's with the Binghams one day before I actually started. Well, I can say it. He's gone. He told me, he said, "If you come to work for us," he said, "The one thing I want you to do is get rid of T-Bar-V." He said, "It's an embarrassment to-"

JF: Which was an institution at that point but ...

ES: ... which he said is an-

JF: Tell them what T-Bar-V was.

ES: T-Bar-V was ... I think everybody know what T-Bar-V ...


JF: Possibly.

ES: But T-Bar-V was the locally originated program that had local talent-

JF: On television.

ES: Yeah, on television, thank you.

JF: They didn't do it on radio also did they?

ES: No.

JF: They didn't simulcast it ... Excuse me.

ES: And it was done by Atcher-

JF: Randy Atcher.

ES: ... Randy Atcher and-

JF: Tom Brooks.

ES: ... Tom Brooks. And it was even for a local show-

JF: Milty Metz had a part on it, I think. Milton Metz was a villain or something, I think.

ES: Milton Metz was everything on WHAS sooner or later. Great guy. Anyway-

JF: That's interesting, I hadn't heard that before.

ES: We decided to get rid of the Hayloft Hoedown too because we were getting killed in the ratings. We couldn't sell it and we tried local programing with Milton and-

JF: Now those two had been very popular at one time.

ES: Oh, yes, absolutely. Sure.


JF: [crosstalk] in the early '70s they're starting to-

ES: Oh, gosh yes. But the demographics changed too and new things, new exciting ... This is when all the Merv Griffin shows and all those talk shows-

JF: Syndication type things.

ES: Absolutely.

JF: That's pretty tough competition.

ES: It was. We were just getting clobbered. And, of course, I was at WAVE when George Patterson, program director, he came and asked me, asked all the sales guys, there was three of us. "NBC's going to start a new program early in the morning. They want us to carry it." He said, "It's called Today."

JF: Oh, my goodness.

ES: And I said, and the other guys did too, yeah. We can sell that early time. And that's what ...

JF: Little did you know where that would all end up.

ES: That's right. That's right. It was a great innovative creative time in television.

JF: So you have to work on getting rid of T-Bar-V and Hayloft Hoedown. Were 48:00there other elements there too?

ES: Yeah, we had to let, I think it was 20-25 people go or early retire. Most of those who had been there a while early retired.

JF: That's pretty much, again, a Bingham attitude, wasn't it. They were very kind to people and didn't want people to be hurt badly.

ES: That's right. That's right. That's right.

JF: How was that? That must've been tough for you? It's a business decision, of course, though.

ES: It had to be done and I think a lot of people knew that they were surplus. We had people in the promotion department that, I don't know what they were doing. Sure, they'd fire out these releases but you'd very seldom see them in the newspaper. So I don't know. It was just a tough thing to do. And I think in hindsight I don't know why in the world I ever left Channel 32.

JF: Well, you had a big influence on HAS, though. That was an important time then.


ES: But radio, Barr handled that like a pro.

JF: What kind of guy was he? What was he like to work with? I hear his name ... Of course, I worked for him but I hear his name pop up all the time.

ES: Oh, he was a great guy. Very, very amenable. Very smart.

JF: Knew where he was going, though, didn't he?

ES: Absolutely. He knew music better than anybody I ever-

JF: And how to get there.

ES: ... Pardon? Yeah.

JF: He knew what he was going and how to get there, I think.

ES: Absolutely, absolutely.

JF: They put together the elements of what became just a major, major radio station.

ES: Absolutely. But he and I, and I'll take credit for this because we colluded against the Binghams to get rid of the classical music.

JF: Oh, really?

ES: So, bear with me. We were bidding on the University of Louisville basketball rights and WAVE and I. 32 wasn't bidding, I don't think. They may have been. And 50:00so we put together a bid and took it out to ... Instructions said take this to our accounting office. Well, we did and the day they opened the bids, Peck Hickman called me. He said, "Why didn't you bid?"

JF: He was the basketball coach at U of L.

ES: Yep. And I said, "But we did." "But where's your bid?" I said, "It's in your accounting office where you told me to give it." He said, "Oh, my Lord." He had already given the bid to WAVE but he had never seen ours. So he called me back and he said, "I don't know what I'm going to do." So I said, "Forget the television, give us the FM rights." That was the foot in the door to get rid of the classical. Brench Bowden was ready to kill me.

JF: Brench Bowden was the program director.

ES: Program director. Thank you for helping me identify all these people. But that's what we did and that's where I went down and got Van Vance to come on and ...

JF: He gives you a lot of credit for his entry into sports and full-time and all that.


ES: Van's a good guy and not that the others down there weren't good guys. They all were very talented men, but devoted to what he was doing. He really was. He loved sports. Still does. That kind of helped a little bit. NBC was starting an all-news network. This was the thing to do-

JF: For radio.

ES: ... for radio. So I approach Barry. I said, "Can't we change this all over and pick up the NBC news?" He said, "Yeah."

JF: Classical music and news was okay at that point.

ES: Yep. And so we picked up the NBC news for the FM station. I think that's right. I think that's what we did. Then the NBC news folded. It didn't make it. But Barr, in the back of his mind, he said, "Country, country, country." That's what he had for the FM.

JF: Is that right? Wow.


ES: And that's how it got started on HAS radio.

JF: They made a transition so when the news failed, there it was. I talked with Jerry David Melloy the other day and he told me how Coyote Calhoun came about. Did you have dealings with Coyote? Was that a-

ES: No. That was after I was gone.

JF: Oh, that was after you were gone, okay. Wow. Wow.

ES: They called me over to the office one day and said, "This isn't working out and you're gone."

JF: Really?

ES: So Barry Jr. And Cy MacKinnon ... I don't know if you want to go into all this.

JF: What is it they were ... Because things were going along pretty well or what was the problem?

ES: I don't know. To this day I don't know.

JF: That was a surprise to you then, obviously.

ES: Well, it was and the five years I was there I was never once reviewed saying 53:00that I was doing good, bad, or indifferent. I don't know. It was a disappointment. It was a shock because I thought we were rolling on pretty good. I know Cy and I had had some issues about different parts of the industry that he didn't understand or I didn't understand, I don't know what it was.

JF: Now, Cy MacKinnon, he was the right hand man of the-

ES: The family. Of the family.

JF: Of the family, yeah. Of the family. Now Barry Senior, of course, was still pretty influential at this time, wasn't he? Or was it Barry Jr. Was Barry Jr.-

ES: No. No, Junior. Barry Jr. Was. He had the interest in broadcasting. Of course, he'd worked for NBC network.

JF: Ah, I forgot about that. Yeah.

ES: And I don't know what happened. Really, in retrospect, it's none of my business what happened except that I was ... They were generous with the separation and the parting was not sweet but we made amends later on when I'd 54:00retired. The thing that I really missed too at HAS was my activity with the Kentucky Broadcasters because I asked MacKinnon, I said, "I'd like to continue this work," and he put the kibosh on it. He said, "No, we need you here. We don't want you doing that." And yet they were such big promoters for the newspaper to which they sent five or 10 people up to the-

JF: But nothing with broadcasting? Wow.

ES: And so I had to back off. I'd go to meetings but I wasn't on the board anymore or anything like that.

JF: Yeah.

ES: You want me to keep going?

JF: Let's talk just a little more about your HAS experience. Barr was there as 55:00the radio program director. Who was involved in television?

ES: Me.

JF: I mean as far as program directors and people like that. Was that the Dick Sweeney era?

ES: Oh, Dick Sweeney, that's right. Sweeney was there.

JF: But you were over radio and television basically. You concentrated probably a little bit more on television because you had Barr over there but you were over radio and television.

ES: Yeah. And also, when I got there, somewhere I kept all those figures but they weren't doing worth a hoot. They were just not making any money and Sweeney was good. I had the utmost respect for him and I like to think I taught him some stuff but he didn't know what a rating book was and it may not mean much to people but you can't be in the TV business without a rating book and they had never subscribed.

JF: [crosstalk] a different era there or back when ...

ES: Yeah, they had never subscribed. And another basic problem with rating them 56:00was, certain areas of nighttime radio, the rates were higher than television's. Nobody's listening to the radio but, don't ask me why, it was never changed. We immediately changed the rate card and then began to sell that radio too. Because at that time we were in no position to raise rates when we're still broadcasting all the old farm programming, nobody listening. But once Hugh got to work and we got a number or two, boy we pushed them right on up. So I think we turned radio around in about a little over a year. I think I've still got those numbers.

JF: When I can in '73 you guys had [crosstalk].


ES: Oh, we were whuppin' it. Oh, yeah.

JF: Yeah, you were doing really good. You turned it from the sleeping giant into the cuddly giant, as Hugh liked to call it.

ES: That's right. That's right.

JF: It was very involved in the community and doing all sorts of things. Yeah.

ES: I talk to him quite often.

JF: Do you really?

ES: Yeah.

JF: I'll have to get a phone number from you because I want to call and talk with him a little bit so that'd great.

ES: Sure. Good. Good. Good. He'd love to hear from you.

JF: Yeah, yeah. [crosstalk].

ES: He lost his wife recently.

JF: Really?

ES: Yeah, over the last year or so. I've been trying to get him up here. I've offered him a room and everything else if he would.

JF: Maybe he'll come up for one of these. That'd be good.

ES: That'd be ... Yeah.

JF: You and I could team up on him and get him talking a little bit. That'd be great.

ES: Sure. Sure. That'd be great.

JF: That'd be good. So, you came in at a time and helped kind of shape things up and then they said, "Here's the door."

ES: But, as I say. We went back to Florida and bought a little radio station in Haines City, Florida. My goodness, it's the worst decision I ever made. But through the ascertainment part of this where you go around and you visit people in the community and say what is the town doing and what can you say to it ... Am I talking too much?

JF: No, you're fine. You're fine. Making sure we're-


ES: I got ahold of this lawyer that was born and raised in Haines City. He says, "Why are you coming to a culturally depressed poverty pocket?" And he was right but we had a lot of fun down there. One time, I can't remember who we had ... Anyway, we were doing a basketball game and it was just a daytime station so we'd tape them and play them back the next day. And people always, I don't care how old, how young, they always like to hear themselves on the radio. Anyway, I looked around. I was doing the play by play. Bettie was keeping statistics for me. Bill was playing and Jim was working the PA system. I thought, "Well, we all got in the game free, at least."

JF: Get some popcorn too? That sounds good.


ES: Yeah, that's fun. We had a lot of fun. Bettie, I'll tell you, one story that I really ... She became news director and she was in her seventh heaven. Two things, we weren't there a week then she had this woman's program going and first thing she did every morning was to call the hospital and see what new babies were born. The first day she called the nurse said, "Oh, you just call on Thursdays, that's when the babies come." Bettie said, "Oh?" Well, physicians were forcing labor on Thursday.

JF: Oh, wow.

ES: It wasn't 20 minutes and the hospital called back and said, "Scratch that, they're delivering babies every day now." And so in just one phone call you made a change in that community.

JF: Interesting.

ES: One really good story, I thought, we filed with AP. There was an itinerant worker. This was right in the heart of Florida at that time, orange country.


JF: A little south of Orlando, over in that area?

ES: Yeah, central Florida. And he went into the police station and said, "I'm hungry, can you help me with some food?" And they said, "No, but there's a church up here about ..." It was over in Davenport area, I think. And that was six miles away. And he went up there and knocked on the door and the door opened. He went to the lower door, he didn't go to the front doors of the church, and went into the basement, the refrigerator. And he opened it, fixed himself a bologna sandwich. The pastor comes down and he said, don't you move. He went back upstairs, came down with a pistol, and said, "You're under arrest." And he called the Haines City police. Police said, "We sent him over there." "I'm filing a complaint against him. I want him in jail right now."


ES: Jack, it was about, I don't know, not quite a week before Thanksgiving. So this was a hell of a story so we filed it with AP, or Bettie did. And they put it on the national wire. He's getting Thanksgiving offers from Seattle, Washington, from all over Tennessee or anyplace, all over the country. And the pastor insisted on following up on the prosecution of this guy. So I was going to work one day. I was downtown on the way out to the station. I just stopped by the police station. I said, "How's our friend?" "What friend?" I said, "The guy that you sent over to the church." "We didn't do anything like that." They answered one of his calls and so they acted after helping him find somebody that would take him, put him in the car with him, and, "We never had the case." So we didn't follow up on that.


JF: Is that right. Wow. Wow.

ES: We didn't follow up on that. But they were so pissed at this guy. I don't blame them either. He really wasn't too good a preacher.

JF: That's amazing. Minister and Thanksgiving and-

ES: Well, you never know with a small town really what you're going to get.

JF: Yeah. Well, you've had a great career.

ES: I have.

JF: And still doing some things. You're still doing things with [inaudible] Broadcasting and are you doing some consulting or anything these days?

ES: No. I had two experiences that I was proud of and did sell it. To finish up the thing about HAS, sold the radio station. Went to work for a little company that had a TV station down in Fort Myers, and I knew them. And eventually got a call from General Electric in Nashville. Long story short, one other thing. Don 63:00Faust was the name. He ran all the GE stations and he said, "You didn't give me a reference from HAS." And I said, "You know they canned me, Don." I said, "Call Cy MacKinnon." So he did and he called me back laughing, he said, "You know what he said?" I said, "No." "He said he made a mistake." And I said, "Well, I could've told him that." But anyway-

JF: That's good to know.

ES: ... I had that job. Essentially GE was selling out all their TV and they had a black buyer for Nashville from a black insurance company over in North Carolina somewhere. And it didn't go through so I stayed there and then eventually took over the radio, AM and FM, and I really enjoyed working for them. And then Bob Morse called me one day and said, "You want to come back and run Louisville Productions?" Bettie and I were both a little homesick so we said, "Sure." So we came on back.

JF: Oh, that's right. Yeah, you were back there [inaudible]. What year was that? That was when ... What years was that you were there at Louisville Productions? 64:00What year was that?

ES: Hugh was still there.

JF: Yeah, yeah.

ES: This was-

JF: In the late '70s, middle to late '70s?

ES: No, it was up '81, '82. How wait a minute. '83. '83 or '84 because I was in Nashville for three years and then I retired from there, from HAS when Bingham sold. You know when they sold it.

JF: Yeah, '85.

ES: But the two things that I really enjoyed doing was one, I had a call from Channel 15 when they let their manager go and I babysat that transfer license to TAT from Garrison County. And that was interesting. I'd never done anything like 65:00that before. Mainly closing it down and one experience we had that was really a nail-biter. Help me with who was the general manager of radio, and I can't remember his name. He came up through the sales department, the last guy they had.

JF: Bob Scherer.

ES: Bob Scherer, thank you. Bob, I called him, and I knew they were looking because the new owners of the television had said they wanted the space. And I said, "Bob, come out and look at this building." This was the old GE building that Channel 15 had bought.

JF: Oh, yeah.

ES: Now the transfer had already taken place but the corporation was still going because they owned all this property they had to get rid of. So, long story short, he signed up for the thing-

JF: This is HAS radio, yeah.

ES: Yep.

JF: Of course, at that time radio and television had been together forever and-

ES: That's right. That's right. So they had their own building. We got down to the closing on this thing and the bank had been so patient with us. And it was a 66:00$1,000,300 mortgage on that place or thereabouts. And I went to the closing. They gave me a check for $1,300,000. I put it in my pocket and ran as fast as I could to the bank because the bank was going to foreclose that afternoon, or the next day, whenever.

JF: Wow. Wow.

ES: Boy, I've never held a check like that in my life. And the other thing that I got involved in was the International Executive Service Corps. You ever heard of that?

JF: No.

ES: It's a volunteer organization and I never found out who funded it or started it. I suspect GE did, had some hands in a part of it. But when the iron curtain busted up this group was formed to help businesses that had never been in a free-enterprise system to operate and help them. So I applied and Bettie and I 67:00were sent to Kharkiv, Ukraine and lived with a Russian family for, I think it was five weeks. And we had the time of our lives.

JF: I'm sure.

ES: It was just great and they owned an AM and FM and a little newspaper that they published. And had no idea of what competition was. They would meet with an advertiser, all the stations that were there. They had four or five stations in Kharkiv. They'd just divide up the budget. I said, "No, you want it all." I said, "It's the American way." But then, when we got back home, I applied to the U.S. Commerce Department, and Senator McConnell was helpful in getting this, but anyway, they had a program set up where they could come over here and visit our 68:00stations. So the long story short was that I got KBA to sign off on what they were supposed to do so they threw in a little money which they immediately got back but they lived with us for six weeks. So we visited 15-18 radio and TV stations in the state.

JF: Very nice.

ES: And that was fun, it really was.

JF: Eye-opener to them too, I'm sure.

ES: Oh, yeah.

JF: Well, you've had a rich experience.

ES: I have.

JF: And who knows what's going to happen next.

ES: It's true. It's true.

JF: You looking around for opportunities still or ...

ES: Oh, no. No, I'm volunteering with Male and hospice now.

JF: Yeah. [inaudible]. Some great stories and experience.

ES: I didn't know. Good Lord, I talked for an hour and a half.

JF: That's fine. That's not a problem. That's what I came out for. Well, thank you very much, Ed.

ES: You're welcome.


JF: And we'll look forward to if we need to add more, we'll add more.

ES: Good. Good.

JF: Thanks.

ES: Thank your daughter.

JF: Let's see, I want to stop-