#22 – Hey Disc Jockey…

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University of Louisville Head Football Coach Howard Schnellenberger refered to  WHAS afternoon personality Terry Meiners as the “Disc Jockey” Meiners parlayed this into an on going parody of the coach.  It was hillarious and perhaps one of my favorite Meiners  skits.  Oh, there was an entire cast of characters that made the daily Terry Meiners skit list.  If you were a local politician, a celebrity, a TV news reporter, even the radio station General Manager, you were a target of a Meiners paradoy.  Many of the voices were placed by Meiners himself but most of them were done by the very talented voice actor, Randy Davidson.   The Terry Meiners show was void of any music.  The show just didn’t need it.  With news, weather, traffic, sports, and Meiners skits and interviews, it was a perfect blend of entertainment and talk that had mass appeal.  Terry is still going strong every afternoon on WHAS.

With deference to my many radio friends, I would have to say that of all the people I worked with in my career, Wayne Perkey is my favorite.  I think Wayne Perkey has personally shook the hand of every person in Lousiville.  He understood what it takes to get out there and meet the listener.  Part of the word “personality” is “person” and Wayne loved people.  He always would look for the good in everyone.  In my case, as I knew full well what my faults were, he always made me feel good.  I could have the shittiest day going on but Wayne would be a bright spot.  And that is exactly how he came off on the air.  Wayne’s program was also all talk..news, weather, traffic, sports, farm and garden information from Fred Wiche, interviews, and so forth.  A virtual wheel of information with Wayne as the conductor.  The format was brilliant and I used it several years later.  For years, Billboard Magazines list of drive-time dominators – these are the top broadcasters in America with the largest audience shares – included Wayne.  Wayne retired from radio about 10 years ago but he’s still active in Lousiville.

Jack Fox and Doug McElvein were the mid-day personalities on the station.  The programs were music shows with news and weather in between.  This was at a time when the station was considered a full-service adult contemporary station.  Both Jack and Doug had excellent voices.  McElvein also hosted a popular weekend talk show on Sundays that generated large ratings.  And keeping a station at the top of the ratings heap is what it’s all about.  Jack Fox had the best voice on the radio station.   He freelanced for a lot of ad agencies in the area and is also the voice of airports across the United States.  When you hear a voice that says “Welcome to Orlando International Airport” chances are, it’s Jack.

The year was 1991 and we had just gone through an intense but brief battle with Iraq over the invasion of Kuwait.  It was a defining time for WHAS too.  Our listeners wanted to talk about it.  And, it certainly dominated our news coverage.  Something changed in 1991 forever.    Meanwhile, across town at former powerhouse rocker WAKY, Rush Limbaugh was making inroads.  I could see audience shares slipping in mid-days on WHAS.   WHAS was fortunate to have Clear Channel’s research department physically located in our building.  I commissioned a study to see if Limbaugh was actually pulling numbers away from us.  The answer was affirmative and I was convinced WHAS needed to convert to a news talk station.  It took another two years to make it happen.

 

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