See if you remember this.
After a couple of years on the air, many of the staff (all of us actually) were getting a little disgruntled about shifts and pay, etc. Rumors of mass walkouts were being whispered about. When KNUS was still at Triangle Point, downtown, the building was shared with McLendon’s National Production. This was a company, co-owned by Pierre Salinger and Gordon McLendon. They mass-produced educational audio tapes. We all walked by the big glass window looking into this business everyday as we walked into the KLIF/KNUS studios. When Gordon got wind of this, he came up with the kind of a plan that only HE could come up with. For 2-3 weeks, equipment started showing up in the window of National Production. Each day it got bigger and bigger, with patch panels, reel-to-reel rack mounted tape decks and cables everywhere. Each day brought more of the design into focus. Most of us had never seen an automated radio station setup, but we knew what it looked like, and it looked just like THIS. Was Gordon planning to fully automate KNUS and fire us all?? First we all shook it off – then we panicked – then we shut the hell up. Magically, after a few weeks, the equipment “disappeared.” I didn’t find out until years later that this was the plan all along, just to put us in our place. It did and once again, the genius of Gordon McLendon reared it’s brilliant head.
Erickson – A.K.A. Mike Murphy"
And, I remember Gordon's edict that everyone had to wear coats and ties while on the air. Most of us didn't even own so much as a tie. So, we all came up with sport coats and ties from a Goodwill store or similar thrift shop, and wore them over our cutoffs and blue jeans. That policy went away. I believe Gordon got a kick out of our response.
Yes, MIke. And I remember how Gordon had a telephone number that he could use to call to listen to every one of his AM and FM radio stations. This was back in the Dark Ages days before there was an Internet for radio stations to stream on. He could monitor everything going out on the air from anywhere in the world. The McLendon radio lore was that he would sometimes call a radio station hotline at one of the stations he owned out of the blue, without even listening to what was being broadcast and ask the unsuspecting DJ, "Why did you do what you did just a minute ago?"
The hapless McLendon DJ answering the question sometimes wouldn't have a clue what he was talking about, and didn't dare ask what he meant, but would sometimes confess to something that Gordon had no clue about. What fun!
You and I both had our first radio jobs in Dallas, then about the 10th or so largest radio market in the country, thanks to McLendon. No one ever told us that we were supposed to start at some podunk small market radio station in the middle of a cow pasture somewhere and work our way up to the big time.
I can't ever complain about the way I was treated by the McLendon family while I worked for them. They were fine people. And, it was the best boot camp for anyone who was just getting into radio.
If you are a former KNUS or KLIF staffer who would like to do a guest blog too, please contact me by leaving a comment. I'll get right back to you.