I arrived in Louisville the Thursday before the 1989 Kentucky Derby. Bob Scherer’s administrative assistant Marylin Ritchie had made arrangement for temporary housing at the Kentucky Towers, an older downtown apartment.building. It was just a few blocks from the station. After getting settled, I walked over to the station. It was raining and I didn’t have an umbrella so I was soaked. It was later in the afternoon and not too many people were around so I wandered. One very attractive woman stopped me and wanted to know who I was. I must have looked like something the cat dragged in. I introduced myself. Turns out she was Dianne Williamson, one of the WHAS air personalities. I’m sure, just given my appearance, I made a less than flattering first appearance. Most people who know me know I normally suit up.
The next day was my official first day at WHAS and I was anxious to get to work. I got there early…dressed to impress. It was Oaks Day. Wayne Perkey, WHAS morning personality was doing his show at Churchill Downs. At the studios downtown was news director Brian Rublein, Meteorologist Ken Schultz, and farm director Fred Wiche. Flying overhead in Skywatch 84 was traffic reporter Ron Robertson. Paul Rogers, the sportscaster, was at the track with Wayne. Even with Perkey out of the studio I was amazed how smoothly that show ran. It was a well oiled machine.
As staff began arriving at the station I made it a point of introducing myself to everyone. And then Bob Scherer arrived with a very tall, distinguished Lowry Mays. It was my first encounter with the man who would revolutionize the radio industry. In 1989 Clear Channel was a small company with stations in San Antonio, Austin, Houston, College Station, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Richmond, and Louisville.
After introductions, I hopped in the back seat of Bob’s Cadillac. Lowry Mays riding shotgun. We were on our way out to Churchill Downs. On the way we had the radio on and our Skywatch 84 traffic reporter gave an update on traffic conditions around Churchill Downs. I was so proud to be associated with a radio station that had a helicopter for traffic reports. And I told Mays how much I appreciated having those kind nd of resources. Mays turned around, looked at me, and in his Texan drawl said “and if you want to keep it, you better figure out how to pay for it”.
The fact is I liked Mays and I’m fairly certain he liked me.