Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Loose Ends

As soon as I start telling someone a story, the rubber band that controls the memory section of my mind begins to unwind often resulting in a veritable flood of memories that I had forgotten I had remembered.

That sentence may someday make the English Language textbooks as the worst opening to an article every written. Oh well, Maybe I'll be famous for something yet.

Anyway, I'll add a couple of things the  WSOC story reminded me of.  First of all,  I hope I didn't leave the impression the COX management's clumsy handling of the takeover of WSOC-TV is typical of their entire operation. Indeed, that's not the case. They are a highly respected media conglomerate who own 14 Television stations and just about everything else you can think of.

So they must be doing something right.

Their mishandling of the WSOC transition in my opinion had to be simply the result of a temporary case of poor judgement by probably no more than one or two executives. I heard that everything improved and pretty much got back to normal at the station not long after I left.

Mmmmmmm.....maybe I was the problem.  ?

But I'll mention one more bizaar thing they did....which was hillarious....and, in fact, might have been the straw that broke their "we are superior and you boobs don't know anything" backs.

Remember, early on they actually told us that they didn't want our ideas or input. That was actually written, in so many words, later in an official memo.

In fact, that was the internal annouincement that informed us about a big promotion they had dreamed
up.  They were going to hold a citywide contest to Name the WSOC Building!   You know, something "big time" "30 Rock"  or something. Anything but just plain old WSOC-TV.

"That was soooo.....yesterday!"

The memo went on to remind us that they didn't need...or want....our help.

Well, they had the contest...and made a big production out of announcing the winner...and the winning name....was:


I'm sure that sounded pretty good to our new bosses from Atlanta, but any Charlottean could have told them that name was already taken way back in 1900 by our famous County landmark, the OLD FOLKS HOME aka Green Acres.

Someone must have mentioned that to the new management people, because I never heard WSOC -TV referred to by that name.

I think the genuses from Atlanta just pretended the contest never happened.

You could almost hear the Camel's back breaking.

Meanwhile I was trucking on up highway US 1 toward Washington.  54 years later, I can still almost see my 25 year old self walking totally cold into the big CBS Television Station in Washington and asking for a job.
I was told there had been an opening for a "summer replacement announcer" ...but unfortunately it was filled the week before.

As I turned to leave, the man said, 'However, since you drove all the way up here from Charlotte, we will at least let you make an audition tape."  (That was like saying, "We will keep your resume in our files.")

Well, with all the "pressure" off of me, knowing I wasn't going to get the job, I must have "nailed" that audition tape, because 2 days later after I had returned home, WTOP called and offered me a "full time" job.  Of course, I accepted.

The job opening that had been filled the week before I went to Washington was for a summer replacement announcer only, which meant, it would most likely come to an end in the Fall.  The summer guy and I had become good friends by then and I hated to see him go, but station management reminded him that Ed Myers/Lee Shephard had been hired to fill the full time spot so his contract was up.

However, there was an opening in the News Department for a reporter...and that was offered to him. But Sam had a problem with that because news reporters were paid almost half of what announcers made at that time since announcers were the backbone of Television stations; performing as kiddie show hosts, news anchors, public service shows...anything locally produced involved an announcer. WTOP TV had a staff of 10.

But I strongly advised him to take it, and like to think that I might have played a small role in convincing Sam Donaldson to go into the TV news business.

For years Sam was the highest paid journalist in the entire country.

Sam Donaldson