#35 Fresno Redux

After 9 months in Lima, Ohio I was given the opportunity to have a piece of an AM station in Fresno.  Now, why I ever thought this was a good idea escapes me. KGED was a 10,000 watt full time radio station at 1680 AM. Even though the dial position was in the nose bleed section of the radio dial, the station had an amazing signal. I jumped in doing what I love to do. Programming. So, another big move, 2300 miles from Ohio back to California.  I was becoming something I never thought I’d be.  A radio nomad.

The station had a history of Christian Conservative programming which doesn’t mean it was a religious station, but it did offer programming from the Salem Radio Network which is very conservative, although not bombastic. In other words, boring. The station employed one sales person who didn’t know how to sell, and a transmitter that didn’t like to stay on the air. I identified two immediate needs. A new transmitter and a seller. Transmitters are expensive. But getting a new one was much easier than finding a seller. So I found myself hitting the streets drumming up some business. Now that’s tough work.

It didn’t take me long to figure out that the billing on the station couldn’t sustain my salary. There was only one choice. I had to cut my own salary. And it didn’t take me long to figure out after cutting my salary, that this was insanity. I was spending more money working than I made. So I cut my losses and forfeited my shares in the station.

John Ostlund, the owner of One Putt Broadcasting in Fresno tossed me a lifesaver. I had met John a few years earlier and found him to be a helluva guy. When I was at KMJ, management there had vilified John. Now, for those of you not in radio, you need to know that radio competitors are always portrayed as the Antichrist. The worst, nastiest, sleaziest snake in the grass is the person you compete against. As I look back on the multitude of radio wars I’ve fought in, this has always been an immutable fact.

Turns out John Ostlund and I had more in common than I would have ever thought. John is a programming guy and a good businessman. He and I forged a relationship which is in tact to this day. Johns idea was to bring the Bill Drake 20/20 news style back to the air in Fresno on KYNO. He wanted to know how familiar I was with 20/20 news. Are you kidding me?? I was raised on that stuff. So John sent me the 20/20 news sounder, teletype sound effect, weather jingle, and the famous Drake tympani and asked me to do a sample newscast. I nailed it. And so, I reinvented myself doing news everyday on KYNO. I also do newscasts on Ostlund’s other station too, although not in the 20/20 news style. And since this is a freelance position, I’m essentially working at my own pace, from my own home studio. It’s the perfect semi retirement job.

And this leads me to a mini rant.

As I’ve immersed myself daily into the business of gathering, writing, and reporting the news, I’ve become more sensitive to the crackpots who denigrate the profession of journalism with smart ass remarks about fake news. It’s insulting. Do reporters make mistakes? Yes. Nobody is perfect. I don’t know one single journalist or reporter – not one- who doesn’t work hard at their craft. Furthermore, I believe that the smear campaign against journalism, supported by some media hooligans, is an affront to the 1st Amendment and a threat to democracy. I’m firm on this. This is a funny business. You never know who you may end up working with or for down the road. That’s why you’re not supposed to burn bridges. The toes you step on today may very well be connected to the ass you have to kiss tomorrow. Most people in this business live by that adage. But not me. I spent 45 years kissing up and I really don’t have to do that anymore. I find the crap I hear on talk radio these days just that.

End of Rant

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