Being program director of WHAS in Louisville is one of the best jobs in radio – period.
I had that honor from 1989 to 1995. It was the best job I ever had. My love for the station began in the early 1980s when a radio friend of mine, Denny Nugent, left Columbus WTVN to be PD of WHAS. Denny made things happen at WHAS. The station had a unique sound. Everything clicked. And the Kentucky Derby coverage was simply magic. When Denny left for a job in Phoenix, I interviewed and was offered the job. That was 1984. And I turned the job down. Huh????? Yep – I decided to stay in Grand Rapids. The consultant for WHAS was Lee Baylee. Lee was disappointed that I turned down the job but we stayed in touch. In fact, we spoke almost every week.
5 years later, the position became available again. I’ll never forget how it came down. I went to Louisville and met with GM Bob Scherer. Bob and his wife Lisa arranged a staff dinner in which I met all the on air people. We had a wonderful weekend getting to know each other. We wrapped the visit up watching the NCAA basketball tournament at the Scherers home. But, as it turned out, I didn’t have the job sewn up. Former program director Denny Nugent was not happy in Phoenix and was entertaining a move back to Louisville. Bob asked me to call him the following Monday and he’d let me know his decision.
I called Bob from a pay phone at Kennedy Airport in New York the folllowing Monday as he had requested. We were embarking on a family vacation to Ireland but before I boarded the Art Lingus 747 for Dublin, Bob gave me the news – he had to go with Denny. And so, with that behind me, I decided that if it was meant to be…..
Several days later we had just finished touring the Ring of Kerry and had returned to The Great Southern Hotel in Killarney. It was a cold, rainy, blustery day. We were cold. The kids ran into the hotel and huddled around a turf fire in the hotel lobby. I ordered some sandwiches and coco for the kids, mom and dad had Irish coffees.
As we were warming up, the concierge at the hotel came to our table and said “ there’s a Mr. Lee Baylee on the phone for you”. I was stunned. How in the hell did he find me?
“ Skip, Lee Baylee here. How soon can you get to Louisville?”
“What happened to Denny?”
“Denny is going to Cleveland. Bob needs you in Louisville. Are you in?”
The luck of the Irish ☘️
And that’s how it came down.
A lot can be written about WHAS and I intend to write a lot about it. It was the best job I ever had. I loved the station, the staff, the town, everything!