The Sale of WIOD – Part 2
by AK - February 17, 2014
Monday Afternoon Bedtime Story: The Sale of WIOD – Part 2
“Woeful Interstate Of Doom”
After the sale was finalized and we were given 30 days to vacate the “Wonderful Isle of Dreams”, packing started really moving forward. None of the studio equipment was coming with us except the DCS. We could take the carts and reels. And anything “show” related we could carry.
And I mean literally carry, because no moving trucks would be coming. We either had to use our own cars or make trips in the one station van.
And over the course of a few weeks while we packed and said goodbyes to more than half our family, the busy bees known as the “Engineering Department” for Paxson Communications was working on building us new, state of the art, gigantic studios for us.
Inside a building already occupied by a mid-size marketing company we’d share the facilities with that hadn’t been redecorated since 1982.
But ok, so what, we’d have new neighbors.. So still.. The huge, state of the art brand-spankin-new studios.
Without any of the equipment we wanted or needed. “Reel to reel machines? Cart decks? Sorry… we’re digital now. Here’s DAT tapes and a new computer system.” Uhm, excuse me but without cart decks, how are we supposed to get that stuff off the carts to put into the computers? - “DOH! ROYYY!”
Ok, ok, I’m being nit picky, right? BEAUTIFUL, STATE of the ART Facilities.
15 miles away from the offices occupied by the rest of the radio stations in the Paxson Miami chain. So twice a week, for meetings or other reasons, or to sign paperwork, or whatever reason, we’d have to drive there. To a place nobody knew us, recognized or cared about us.
“oh, that sounds like a GOOD thing no?” you’re probably thinking.
Yeah, except that the speakers in the ceiling piped in the PS system from the other building. So all day, while you were sitting in the open closet editing audio (yes, it really was an open closet door with a desk in it), you’d hear “Max Sitero report to the PlanetRadio studio please.” “Andy McGee, your wife is at the front desk”. “Hello? Hello? Wait this thing is on?”…. But I digress… Back to the move.
So the day comes, Saturday, and it’s moving day.. And me, and Jorge, and Wayne, and Fajita and Steve Speier, and Mark Hoffman and a bunch of other station soldiers load up their cars and the van for multiple trips to the new digs. And we make 4 or 5 trips like that, back and forth….then spend the evening and much of the next day setting up our various areas. Jorge’s got 2000 carts, 1000 reel-to-reels to organize A – ZZZ. I have a bullhorn, a 12 gallon bucket, and 3 racks of carts to start putting in place. The sports guys have a production desk at the end of a dead-end hallway. The continuity and traffic people are all crammed into a room that occasionally locks people in there. And we’re all responsible for carrying things and getting the place ready to function.
But the studios ARE beautiful, and brand spankin new and top notch.. If only things would work. Engineering had as much time as it took us to pack and move to put together all of these new studios, with equipment and boards and wiring everything and testing everything. I don’t think Roy and Max and Leno had ever built a talk studio, so the little things that we would need were left out or we’d have to fight for.. (like cart decks)… “Why would you need to have more than one call on the air? We didn’t hook it up to do that”. Yeah, I’m sure at “All Chick Rock-All The Time PLANET Radio they don’t take many phone calls. We do. Get it done, ROY. Oh, and while you’re at it, how about making sure we can dial OUT, okay? We do that some times, okay? If you have any issues, talk to the Program Director”
And within a month or 2 of being on the air from that terrible building (only by comparison to what we’d had prior) most of the things were working…. Technically. What wasn’t working? The station. There were so many gaps and open shifts that we seriously started believing that Nichol would rollerblade around on Miami Beach and ask people if they wanted to do a radio show. We still don’t know, to this very day, where he found “The Sheik”. My guess? Park bench on the Causeway.
So as quickly as they announced the sale, they blew out the PD Steve Nichol.. And brought in the Brain Trust, aka Harry “Penis” Valentine (aka the Program Director) and Walt Sabo (aka the Consultant). These two guys are as responsible as Buddy Bud for the demise of the station.
And here’s why: It’s the talent that matters. People aren’t listening for the goofy, campy time checks on the 1’s (10:01, 10:11, 10:21, 10:31, 10:41) and people aren’t listening for the self-aggrandizing, ego maniacal, pregnant woman punching, wanna be comic news guy. The station was best when it was a SEROUS NEWS AND SPORT STATION that had hosts that were a break from that. There was limited crossover, and much goofing on the news and the sports and the weather and the traffic… but it was like Neil or Rick and Suds hijacked the serious station and took calls before the serious news guy could come back into the room. But once Harry and Walt showed up, not only were the news folks PURPOSELY trying to not just be funny (like “Florida’s pot’s not good, it’s GREAT”) but now all the sounders and music and time checks and traffic guys and weather reports and everything was this schlocky, campy, 1960’s goofy throwback nonsense. Trust me.. Go back and listen to any of the dying days of that station on the uploaded shows the great folks on this Facebook page have uploaded. Just LISTENING to them now I still wince with the absolute destructiveness of that disaster. So sad. Check out that 1997 Rick and Suds show.. ouch..painful to listen to, and I’m not just talking about the Rick and Suds part. Listen to it. everything else on that tape.. THAT’s what killed WIOD…
And every week or so, Bud and his cronies would come visit their red-headed step child at their satellite location on the side of I-95… and talk to us about things that clearly illustrated his total lack of understanding about the business. When you say things so stupid that even the Sales Department laughs and the idiocy of what was said, you KNOW it was dumb. One of the things that stuck out, and Neil used to talk about was Bud’s “PEAKS OF 20 SHARES!” comment. “We don’t want to have good ratings all the time” he’d said.. “we want you to have okay numbers, then PEAKS of 20 SHARES!“. Like that would help the sales department sell the station? They sell based on how many people are usually listening… not what we might get lucky with a peak here and there.
And not long after that, Neil announced he was leaving.
Next, Part 3 – Neil’s waning days, the slow painful death of WIOD and the start of the SuperTalk Radio Network.
Part 3 was either never completed or recovered.
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