Hi, This is "Brian Pierce - Radio Guy". I've been doin' this a long long long time. Frankly, aside from a stint
at Myers Brothers Springfield Il (where my Dad worked) and the Baskin Robbins (Ash & MacArthur), radio is all I've EVER
I'm already ahead of myself. I grew up in Carbondale. I mowed my next door neighbor Buckminster Fullers lawn. He invited
me into his dome many times for sandwiches. I shot baskets with Walt Frazier. I was one of the original S.I.U. Saluki mascots
in 1967. I was a puppy Saluki. I was on the scene when Old Main burned down - even running into the burning building to retrieve
school records. I was there for the riots - playing "Army" with the real National Guard as Carbondale was under
curfew. (We'd hide in the bushes.) If you've ever been in Lentz Hall, that's my Great Grandfather - Eli G. Lentz, still S.I.U.'s
greatest History professor and former Dean of students in the 40's. If you were ever arrested in Carbondale in the 60's (that's
many of you) - your public defender was my Grandfather Orwin H. Pugh. Carbondale was a great place to be a kid. I saw the
Supremes at the Arena & Jim Hart play football at McAndrew Stadium. If you've ever been to the bar, Sidetracks - in the
60's that was my Dads clothing store, The Caboose - specializing in "Funky-Groovy". One of my best friends was Tony
Jabr who went on to buy the Duquoin State Fair. At the time, there was as much goin' on there in Jackson County - as Los Angeles.
I won the local Ford Punt, pass & Kick competition. I was even the paperboy for the Hells Angels "Anteater".
When I needed money I'd raid the hundreds of soda machines on campus for the bottles. I got 2 cents each at the Kroger store.
I was tear gassed coming out of the Varsity Theatre. Who wouldn't consider this an exciting place? 1971 the family moves north
Radio began for me in my bedroom on State Street. I was a "stereo head" (audiophile), with the best stereo of
all my friends. I was the kid with a 4 track reel to reel, mic booms and giant Marantz speakers. I loved taking electronic
equipment apart and trying to make it do different things - evidenced by all the stuff I took apart and rendered useless.
My Father never forgave me for taking the speaker out of his RCA record player to hook it up to a clock radio. One fatefull
day I happened upon an FM transmitter. I began broadcasting illegally to south Springfield from a Radio Shack receiving antenna.
My dad was upset that while he was at work I erected a 30 foot antenna off the top of our two story house. I remember the
farthest my station ever went was Fairhills Mall. Crystal clear mono FM at TWO FREQUENCIES! (I never knew why). 88 & 94
FM. I named each. W-H-A-T & K-B-L-O. My "studio" was two Garrard turntables (I started them with lamp switches),
a Kenwood Amp, Sony Receiver, two portable cassette decks and an old Ampex Reel to Reel. I could manipulate that stuff to
create pretty much the same sound I heard on real stations, it was just more difficult. In 1971 there was nothing "down
that low" on FM in Springfield, so listeners had no reason to go fishing there in the first place. That explains my complete
lack of listeners. Except the dudes at Nino's Steak House at Town & Country shopping center. They often actually tuned
me in and put me on the overhead speakers in the bar! I was usually my only listener. I'd drive around in my Corvair and listen
to tapes of myself. But of course back then, I had only AM. I had one of those fancy schmancy FM converters! So I can truly
say I was on FM - before FM was "cool". Believe it or not, I have tapes of some of those original broadcasts and
you can hear them on my audio pages.
Growing up in the 60's meant AM radio, and for me stations like WCVS, WLS, KXOK, WIRL & KSD. Remember when AM had
the lions share of radio audience? I sure do, so I set my sights on the station in Southern View, WCVS - THE BIG 14. Freshman
& Sophomore year at S.H.S. I listened to Jim Palmer, Lee Davis, Dave Morgan, Dan Shirvis, Jim Wingo and others playing
the hits. I desperately wanted "in". I got my Mom to drive me to the studio at 15 years old to audition for Jim
Palmer. He sat me in front of a microphone and gave me some news copy. I'll never forget the nerves. I failed miserably. I
could read, but my voice had yet to drop to its current baritone. Back then radio guys had baritone voices. Big booming voices
that said "all man". I had a little while to go.
My home broadcasts continue for 2 years. Now, I have the neighborhood kids tuning in. I'd call them and ask, "How
am I coming in?" They'd respond, "Pretty crappy". I'd adjust the antenna and call them back. They'd say, "That's
better. Would you play Deep Purple?" Occasionally I'd have a contest for a fictional prize. "The first caller at
(My parents home phone number) wins ONE MILLION DOLLARS CASH!" No one ever called. Except once. "Hello?" "What
caller am I?" "What?" "I'm calling for the contest!" "Who is this?" "This is Jim,
and I'm calling from the phone booth in front of the Dairy Queen on MacArthur!" "Oh God!" (This was about 400
yards from my transmitter) (Quick hang up on Jim) (Mad dash to bedroom to sign off station) This actually happened. I always
wondered about Jim. He went home to his wife and said, " The weirdest thing just happened. I was driving down the street
and called this station for a contest. I think I won a Million dollars, but the guy hung up on me and suddenly the station
was gone! All I get now is static!" Jims' wife thought Jim was nuts. Only Jim & I know the truth. This was my last
"contest", and the very first time I was ever asked "What caller am I?" Little did I know this was the
first of thousands of times I'd be asked this question. So much so - that when I publish my autobiography, I have the title.
WHAT CALLER AM I?
Upon graduation from S.H.S. it's off to Western. Immediately I march into the college station and try to take over. I
had no talent. Just unbridled enthusiasm. They put me on the air in what I thought was the best shift - 3-5pm. Just like the
home station, no-one was listening. I mean no-one. OK, maybe 5 people - but they were other staff members. It didn't matter.
I was taping every show and honing my skills. I even sold spots to run on my show. This was a non profit station - so I was
really "outside the box". I kept the money - and financed late night runs to "Sambo's". Funny how many
of the people on those "Sambo's runs" are still broadcasters today. One guy is at CBS radio. One does a talk show
in Charlotte. One is on WLS -TV in Chicago. One even became the mayor of Davenport Iowa.
Remember, my single goal in life is a spot on WCVS. One summer home on vacation, I stop in to see Skinny Jim Palmer. Jim
at the time was WCVS' Program Director and midday host. Jim had been there for about 15 years. Jim was the former morning
host and tall, broad-shouldered, bronze & handsome. (At least that's what he used to say on air.) I gave him one of the
tapes from my college station. He said, "You've come a long way Brian". Unbeknownst to me is a prime spot on WCVS
was opening up. Odie Cloney was about to leave his position and his shift was available. Jim asks if I'd be interested. My
dream was about to come true. I was gonna get that prime shift on the station I'd dreamed of being on. I'm 18 years old and
achieving the only thing I ever dreamt of. "I'll take it"! Now the reality. That "prime shift" is Midnight
to 6am six days a week. "Who cares?" Not me. I'm on the air...........and I'm really bad. By now my voice had dropped,
but I had no idea what my role was. I didn't know what to say. Sure, I gave the weather and introduced records. I conducted
contests and plugged station events. I thought that's what I was supposed to do. Follow program logs and watch the transmitter.
Frankly, that's what most on-air people did back then. They sounded all the same. I was never really happy doing that. I wanted
to sound unique, and do unique things, but still didn't really know how. At the time I wasn't encouraged to be unique. It
wasn't the station really. It was the "times". The "format" was supposed to be this "bullet-proof"
thing that made the station sound consistent around the clock. The personalities were just there to implement the format.
I was OK doing that. Just OK. I stayed up all night - sleeping till 3pm. I executed the format, and grew more comfortable
being on the air. I did some remote broadcasts, even called a basketball game. I learned alot about the nuts & bolts of
what I'd chosen to do. Moreso - I came to realize I'd made the right decision to be on the radio. I know now these are the
times most young broadcasters can't outlast. The weird hours and low pay take a toll. This is when most kids today say, "Radio's
cool, but I probably oughta look for something else". Not me. I wanted more. I wanted to do more on the air and I had
a brand new goal. EVENINGS on WCVS!
18 months later, I get the chance. Night guy leaves to "manage a Wendy's" (see last paragraph), and I get the
call from the bullpen. I'm now 6pm - Midnight. That means I can now go to bed at 2am! All right! I had a blast. I was certainly
the "most energetic" night guy on WCVS in some time. I yelled & screamed all night...often until my throat hurt.
On this family station - I wasn't really fitting in. I was still "green" and lacked what might be described as "warmth".
Upbeat & excited? Sure. Real - and easy to listen to for long amounts of time? Probably not. Management tried often to
calm me down and get me to fall in line with the sound of the rest of the station. Looking back, I guess I wanted to give
them what they wanted, I just didn't know how. All I knew how to do was talk really fast and shout excitedly. Remember AM
radio in the 60's? There was alot of shouting back then. Real uptempo jocks who screamed and yelled for hours on end. These
were the guys that influenced me. That's what I thought I wanted to be. Gratefully WCVS stood by this screamer for 3 straight
years. During that time I calmed down a bit, but not much. I also began to experiment with "the limits of what I could
get away with" on air. I talked a little longer than I was supposed to. I brought up things I probably shouldn't have.
I did "bits". Stuff I thought was funny. Most of it was stupid. Some of it was pretty good though, as I began for
the first time to get feedback from other radio-guys. They'd say, "I couldn't believe what you did last night".
Or, "That was really funny, I could never get away with that"! I probably got away with alot - because Springfield
pretty much turned off radio at night. (Still does) Often I'd be asked to fill in for Bob Murray in the afternoon. ALL RIGHT.
On air when the suns up! That happened often - but not alot. I was really too "up" to be on Springfield airwaves
in sunlight. At least that's what I was made to believe. Until it came time for me to go STRAIGHT TO MORNINGS!
1979 I get a call from Mike Haile. Mike's a Champaign radio legend. (He's still on air there) Mike was charged with finding
his own replacement for mornings at WKIO. Apparently he'd heard me and thought I'd be right for the job. C'mon. Mornings?
I thought it might work because during part of the show - it's still dark. Besides, the pay was roughly double what I was
getting at WCVS. I jumped on it. I move to Champaign into an apartment literally across the street. My bed was 100 feet from
the microphone. This proved to be a wise move since for the first time - I'd be expected to be at work by 6am. I take to the
air, pretty much unsupervised. Get this: I could play just about anything I wanted. Radio at this point was pretty structured.
I was used to "formats" - and finally being "cut loose" in this free form atmosphere was strange. First
thing I realize is I can't do that screamer thing I'd done for so many years. It's just too early. I didn't have the energy.
For the first time I'm actually opening the microphone and just speaking. I'm in the early stages of learning how to be myself
on the air, not this over the top yelling guy. Must've worked. In Champaign my first ratings come in and we're kickin' butt!
I'm playing what I want & saying what I want. I am thrilled. I make new friends, and do so many broadcasts from bars -
I lose count. I actually learn to get up early. I grew into this job to pretty good reviews...until about a year later Mike
Haile decides to come back to his old job. His relationship with the station owner left them no other choice. Fire Bri. I
couldn't believe it. I'm number one. People love me, but the owner loves Mike more. It's nearly a year later and I do the
very same thing Mike did. I call WCVS to see if I can get my old job back. Little did I know that they'd had trouble finding
a permanent replacement for a year - and were happy to have me back! So back to the BIG 14!
The Bri that came back to Springfield was a more mature Bri. This Bri had stopped screaming. For the first time I think
they actually considered putting me on when the sun was up. They didn't - but I think they thought about it . There simply
were no openings. I was happy. I was home. I was back where I felt I belonged. And the story might have stopped there. In
a parallel world - I'm still on WCVS at night. (They still resist putting me on air in daylight) But, something was about
to happen that was going to get me off the night shift forever. I was about to get a raise and move far - really far away.
San Antonio Texas.
Mark Moore was a WFMB jock in the 70's and we hung out together. He'd just joined the Air Force. He was working part-time
at this San Antonio station. Often in the radio business positions are filled with "do you know anybody"? This station
had an opening and Mark said he knew this guy in Springfield that might be right for the job. The station was WOAI, owned
by this small 5 station group called Clear Channel Communications. They needed a 10am-3pm host for this eclectic adult station.
I remember flying to Texas to interview and flying over this city of 1 million. I left my car by the curb at Capital Airport
(Mayberry) - and flew to this giant metropolitan city. I was overwhelmed. The station was 100,000 watts. WCVS was 1000 watts.
WKIO was about 1500 watts. WHAT - KBLO was about 1 watt. This was a big deal. I got the job! Yee-Haa! I become a Texan. I
take to the air and do the best radio I've ever done in my life. I've finally hit my professional stride. I am a real broadcaster.
I think this gig might last forever. What I don't realize is it'll last just 16 weeks! Ratings come back and WOAI is back
in the pack. Springfield back then had about 8 stations. San Antonio had about 50. You can't make money unless you're at least
top 15, so WOAI is considering a format flip. I'm called into the bosses office. He says, "Bri, tomorrow were changing
format to country, do you wanna be the morning guy?" COUNTRY? "Uh - (I'm 1200 miles from home) sure!" I knew
and still don't know a thing about country music. Later that day the entire staff is fired except me and one other guy (he'd
handle afternoons.) I drive that day to KASE in Austin to pick up two big boxes of records left for me in the lobby. That's
what I'll play on air. This was a traditional country station. Hank Sr, Patsy Cline - Mel Tillis was about as hip as it got.
6am the next morning I hit the air on what's now KJ97. The station has gone on to become a ratings leader in San Antonio (it's
still there) - but I was the first voice on the first day. I hated this job on oh so many levels. First, this wasn't the job
I'd just accepted 16 weeks prior. Second, I knew nothing - absolutely nothing - about country music. I was bad. Really bad.
I sounded like an out of place rock jock playing Merle Haggard records. The manager thought maybe what I needed was a make-over.
He got me the pearl button shirt, boot cut jeans, hat, boots and giant belt buckle. I looked like I was ready for the rodeo.
Didn't work. I knew this job wasn't going to last. Everyday I thought might be my last. I tried. I really did, but my heart
wasn't in it. This day to day "wondering about my job" went on for 1 full year. I thought to myself, "If I
were them I'd fire that morning guy"! Well the other shoe finally dropped and I went home that day without a job - now
the second time in just a couple of years.
Just about the time I'd arrived in San Antonio, another station had just debuted. KLLS. They called it Class-FM. For the
"radio - informed" - this was a spin-off of KVIL in Dallas. KVIL was one of the top adult radio stations in America.
They featured huge promotions and round the clock personality jocks. I loved this station and wanted to work there badly.
Now that I was released from my contract with KAJA - I was free to contact KLLS. Just one problem. I thought I could fit in
there, but the only recent audition tape I have is me "really bad" on KAJA. I call anyway. I meet with Bill Gardner
(ex KVIL jock, morning guy & VP of Operations.) He must've seen something he liked, because he certainly didn't hear anything
on my tape. He asks me to "live audition" tonight at 3am. "Take it for an hour or 2 and I'll be listening."
Whoa. Stone cold with no ramp up - no equipment check - nothing - I take to the air at the ungodly hour of 3am. It was almost
a religious experience. Break after break I sound better than I've ever sounded in my life. I was real. I was me. Looking
back I figured that if this fell through I'd just go back to WCVS. At 3:45am the hot line rings. It's Bill. He says, "Man,
you're sounding really good. Be in my office at 10am. We gotta talk." About 4:30am I give the station back to the regular
all-night guy and head home, knowing I have to be back at 10. Sleep? Nope. I'm excited. Could it be that I might get a shot
on this spectacular station? These guys were already #1 in San Antonio and more together than WOAI or KAJA ever were. 10am,
I'm there. Bill asks if I'd like to "fill in" for the night guy for two weeks. (vacation) I'm all over it. That
very night I'm back on KLLS 7pm to Midnight. That 3am audition was no fluke. Wow. I'm even impressing myself. The station
is "purring". Calls are coming in. I'm having a blast. This goes on for two straight weeks. Bill tells me everyday
"Class-FM sounds really great when you're on it man." I'm not surprised now when I'm asked to "fill in"
again for the afternoon guy whose about to vacation too. Now I've got 2 weeks to show my stuff in Drive Time on San Antonios
#1 radio station. I'm not gonna blow this. I pull out all the stops and really perform. I practice, prep and perform flawlessly.
The two weeks fly by. The last day of afternoon fill in, Bill asks me to meet him after the show. Turns out the General Manager
& Program Director are really impressed with Bri. He has an offer. "What if the afternoon guy goes on permanent vacation?"
"What, you're gonna fire him?" "No, we're gonna put him on nights and fire the night guy." Oh. Because
of me, someone's gonna be fired? It felt weird at the time. I knew what it felt like to be fired, but what was I to do? I
needed this job, and I loved this station. I took that job. I'm the new afternoon guy on San Antonio's #1 station. All the
"heat" I felt at WOAI & KJ97 was gone. I was where I needed to be, doing what I did best. I was "being
me" and for the first time encouraged to be creative. That's what this station was all about. They wanted tons of calls
on air around the clock. They wanted "bits". They wanted people talking about the station. They wanted it to "come
alive". This was something I apparently naturally had. I could do this format - because there was no format. We were
told to break every rule we ever knew if we had something better. It just had better be good. I learned alot at KLLS. I took
on the sound I pretty much have today. I learned to juggle six things at once. I learned to connect with what the audience
was thinking at that very moment. This translated to ratings. I remember not being told we were number one by a huge margin.
They wanted us "hungry" - not complacent. The jocks listened to each others shows and tried to out-do each other.
The broadcasts flowed from one show to the other. Something else we did was no live appearances. The station wanted to keep
the personalities mysteries. This way we would be able to live up to the listeners expectations & imaginations. Have you
ever met a radio person and thought, "Wow - they don't look like they sound!" KLLS didn't want that. They wanted
the audience to think we were all stars. Tall, broad shouldered, bronze & handsome. (Heard that before?) I loved this
job. But it's not gonna last....and this time I'm gonna quit.
About 18 months go by and I see an opening in a trade magazine for a station in Kansas City called KBEQ. Q104 is the top
hit music station in KC. For those in the know it's legendary. On a long shot I send them a tape. I have lots of confidence
about this since my tape is so good. Its just days later the Program Director Todd Chase calls and invites me to Kansas City
for an interview. Oh man! It seems my career is really falling into place. I fly in and stay at this 4 star hotel. I meet
Todd. He tells me that literally since we got off the phone HIS boss had decided who was going to fill the position - and
it wasn't me. My being in Kansas City is pointless. Todd said he felt terrible - and assured me I'd go a long way, not just
at KBEQ right now. That was the end of it. I fly back to San Antonio and the gig at KLLS. Another couple of months go by and
my phone rings again. It was another Program Director in another town. C'mon. I hadn't sent out any more tapes. What's this
all about? The town was New Orleans and I didn't really want to go.
Part of the allure of Kansas City was my getting back to my Midwestern roots. I loved Texas, but KBEQ was a real big deal.
New Orleans? I knew nothing about New Orleans. All I knew - was Mardi Gras and Cajun food. The Program Director said "Send
me a tape". He'd just come from a national radio convention and he was talking to his friend.......Todd Chase from KBEQ.
Todd told him of this guy in San Antonio he wanted to hire, but couldn't at the last minute. I said, "Sure, I'll get
a tape right out to ya". A week goes by. I don't send a tape. 2 weeks. No tape. Phone rings. "Hey Bri, where's that
tape?" "I'll get right on it." Another week goes by, I still haven't sent the tape. I don't want to go to New
Orleans. Phone rings. "Bri, what's the deal?" OK - I finally send the tape. I didn't want to - it'd just mean applying
for a job I didn't want in the first place. Just like Kansas City, a few days go by and right on cue the phone rings. It's
New Orleans and they want me. They want me to fly there right away. I figure it's another 4 star hotel and great food for
a day at the very least. I fly in and meet with Bob Reich & Nick Bazoo from WEZB / B97. What I discover is New Orleans
#1 station is in the Superdome Hyatt Regency Hotel. with a studio incorporated into a shopping plaza. This was impressive.
B97 was at the time one of America's most influential hit music stations. This station not only played hits, they "made"
hits. That meant alot of money. I think they were billing right at $1 million a month. They want me for afternoons. They're
gonna pay me more than I've ever made & give me a car. They load me down with stuff from the Radio Station "store"
(yes, they had a store in the front office), send me home and tell me to "think about it". I thought about five
minutes. I was headed to New Orleans and my first real "contract". They promised to employ me 3 years. I moved and
signed and hit the air at WEZB. Immediately I realize the impact this station has. Our promotions were giant. Not one car
to give away - but 30. Not $100 to give away - but $1000. Not once a week - or even day - but every hour. I get this car they
promised. A VW bug (called B-buggies), with my name plastered all over it. I have rock stars to interview. Not by phone, but
standing right there. Madonna, Huey Lewis, Joan Jett, Jackson Browne & Kiss. I have every phone line in the studio ringing
all 4 hours every day with every kid living within 50 miles. This was a problem. I was used to adult radio - now I'm on this
hit machine with all these teenie boppers. I'm having fun, but everything I'd learned seemed different. I was having trouble
making my adult material fit into this young sounding station. I wasn't there 90 days and my phone rings. It's KLLS in San
Antonio calling and they want me back! They're ready to give me what B97 paid me plus a contract. It felt great being "in
demand". I told 'em on the phone I'd take the job & come back, but first I had to break the news to the management
in New Orleans. My New Orleans bosses didn't like the "news" at all. They asked that we meet "tonight for dinner"
before I make any concrete decision. Sounds reasonable. Dinnertime comes and B97 puts it like this. "Is this about money?"
I say no. "Cause if this is about money we can fix that." No, I'm just freaked out at all the kids on the phone.
I think my act is too adult for the station. "They say, Bri - that's why we hired you! We want an adult playin' the hits
in the afternoon. We have all the teens already. To expand the audience we need adults and that's where you come in!"
I tell them how much I love San Antonio and I think I really wanna go back. It's then it got really weird. They offered me
more money. The raise alone amounted to what San Antonio was offering for me to come back. It's at that time I decided it
WAS about the money and how much I looked forward to answering all those calls from teenie boppers! Looking back, quitting
that job would've been the dumbest thing I'd ever done. I really hit stride at B97. The ratings soared. The people and vibe
at this station were incredible. We were all having the times of our lives. I drove in Mardi Gras parades & even hosted
a couple of regular TV shows. I appeared on Days of our Lives (Yes - acting), broadcast from hurricanes and drank hurricanes.
I did some pretty groundbreaking radio for the times. I took the microphone to places you'd never heard before. I tried to
do things that had never been done before. I performed stunts & sang in a band. I learned how to get in the paper and
on TV at will. I bought my first house and my first Cadillac Eldorado. Not bad for a guy that was broadcasting from his bedroom
just 8 years earlier. This was too good to be true. It couldn't last and it didn't. About the time my contract was up for
renewal (I thought it was a sure thing) - the parent company bought a $100 million plus small chain of stations in California.
They made it pretty clear that alot of the profit from B97 was going to finance the deal and there would be some "cutbacks".
I was to become one of those "cutbacks". They loved me, but could no longer afford me. The very people that gave
me all that money in the first place, now needed someone in there making about half what I was getting. Oh No. Depressed can't
describe what I felt. I thought I had finally "made it" and it appeared I had to start all over again. I was going
to have to move again. But in this case that meant to an even bigger station, in a bigger city for even more money. Boston.
The very day I learn B97 isn't going to renew my contract, I get a call from Harry Nelson at WZOU Boston. He's the Program
Director of this up & coming hit music station. Everyone in radio at the time knew Harry. Harry had been at KFRC San Francisco
& WRKO Boston. His reputation preceded him. In this business people talk. By that I mean, radio personalities at the level
I'd risen to - get talked about. When one becomes available, stations go after them. Harry already knew of my contract issue
with B97. He wanted me for afternoons in Boston. Days later I'm in Boston interviewing for the gig. I hit it off with Harry.
He was 15 years older than I was, but we were cut from the same cloth. He made a generous offer. Without even considering
any other options, I took the job. First, all I had to do was finish up at B97 (they let me do a last show - doesn't happen
very often), they had a party for me, and I had Mayflower at the house once again. I remember thinking B97 was the top of
the Top 40 game - until I got to Boston. The talent in Boston was top notch. The staff at this station was major league. Once
again, I rose to the challenge. I hit the air smoking. I'm writing a lot. I'm producing my own bits, and delivering a hot
afternoon show every day. People are noticing. Sunny Joe White the Program Director at our direct competition Kiss 108 even
calls me on the air one day to offer me a job. I took that as a good sign this job was going to work out. But there's always
something....... At this point I'd spent nearly 5 years in the sunshine & warmth of Texas & Louisiana. The cost of
living is also very reasonable in the South. Now, in Boston, even though I'm making more money than ever before, I can't afford
the house I want to live in. I have to pay to park my car at work downtown. It rains for what seems days and weeks on end.
When the rain stops, it starts snowing. Not just snow, but snow that completely buries your car. I love this job, now I just
can't stand where I am. I really consider shopping around for another job, but hold off. A few months go by, and the morning
guys take off for a job in Washington. Harry taps me for the morning show. He teams me with the lady that did my traffic reports
on the afternoon show, Judi Paparelli. I began the WZOU morning show - not realizing I'd be a morning guy from here on out.
Brian and Judi got hot right away. I experienced a chemistry with Judi and the listeners loved it. Ratings were on the way
up. We got some national press in Billboard magazine. It was a "Who the heck are these people in Boston?" article.
We were giving some long running legendary shows a run for their money. Management wants to "lock in" this new
show and wants to renegotiate with both of us. We agree, and sign a new three year contract. Within days, really it was
just days, I get a call at the station. It's a station General Manager with a job offer for me. He wants me for mornings
- in of all places, San Antonio Texas.
Ray Quinn was G.M. at KSMG San Antonio. He begins to tell me all about this fantastic city San Antonio. I stop him cold
and tell him I used to work there. He can't believe it. He got my name from "a guy who knew a guy", and took this
as some sort of divine intervention. He wanted me badly. He didn't know I wanted out of Boston. I had to check if WZOU
would let me out of my contract. Turns out it was binding only on their part. I could leave, but they couldn't fire me.
I hated this decision, but man I wanted that Texas sunshine again. I didn't want to price myself out of the job, so I asked
for less than I was getting in Boston - knowing the cost of living was less in Texas. WZOU let's me do a last show (again,
rare) and I pack again for Texas.
KSMG Magic 105 was a pretty cool station. I signed a three year deal and took to the air. The previous morning guy Jack
Diamond had just left for Washington. (Seems like I'm the replacement for all Washington bound jocks.) Jack was pretty successful,
doing a regemented ultra pre-planned show. This was something I hadn't done before. I had learned to "ride the crest
of the moment". KSMG management wanted to have a say on what I did on air. They wanted me to do certain material.
This was all new ground for me. They had a "Morning Zoo" in place and I'd be the "Head Zookeeper". A
2 person news-team, a sports guy, traffic guy in a plane and a producer. Again, I hit the ground running. Ratings are through
the roof immediately. It seems San Antonio remembers me from the KLLS days four years earlier. I already knew about the
cities Spanish heritage and could pronounce all the "un-pronouncables". I knew my way around town already, and
aside from all the direction management wanted to "input" into my show - I loved the job right away. I even knew
two of my cast members from my first San Antonio stint. Our station was on San Antonio's northside. We had mainly Anglo
sponsors & Anglo listeners. In a town with more Hispanics than Anglos, our ratings increases were impressive. It's then
- behind closed doors, management decides to sell the station. The ratings increases now meant the station was worth more.
I knew nothing of the sale, and even if I did - wouldn't have worried - I was under contract. 18 months go by before a buyer
comes forward and sale is going to be completed. Three people were about to lose their jobs. The General Manager, the Program
Director & me. I learned they were going to take the station in a "more San Antonio Flavored" direction. I
knew that meant I was going to be replaced with a Hispanic. Being extremely Anglo, who was I to argue? My contract meant
they had to buy me out. It was kinda like winning a little lotto jackpot. Damn. Now I'm where I wanna be, but without a
job. There were other jobs in San Antonio at the time, but all paid far less than I'd become accustomed, so I sat out a while.
It's then I had the best vacation of my life. I didn't work for about 4 months. I was just sending out tapes and considering
my next move when the phone rings with my next job. This time it's Dallas, and this time it's "oldies".
The voice on the phone is an old friend, Bob Reich. Bob has been named President of TK Communications. Their biggest
property is KLUV Dallas. They need a morning guy yesterday. He hears I'm "on the beach". I meet with Bob and
finalize the deal. I'm gonna start right away. By now, Mayflower is sending me a Christmas card - so it's pack and move
again. Growing up in the 60's and being a music lover meant I knew oldies better than most my age. I'm just barely 30 when
I take the reins of this major market oldies legend. KLUV had a rich history. They're still top 5 in Dallas. Again, I seamlessly
adapt to another format and team with Kate Garvin. Kate's a former Dallas TV anchor and we hit it off. Chuck Brinkman (a
KQV Pittsburgh legend) is PD. Hubcap Carter (a DFW oldies legend) is night-guy. Ratings and the show are steady for three
straight years. I did all the promos for the station and assisted Chuck in many programming duties. KLUV is a healthy station
in every way - ratings, billing - staff. Once again, I become comfortable and begin to believe I may be at KLUV forever.
This about the time the government de-regulated radio station ownership rules. KLUV, with it's 100,000 watts and position
in the market is worth a ton of money. The owners are considering selling. The station will be worth more if the profit
margins are increased. That means a morning guy making less money. That spelled the end of Bri at KLUV. I worked about
7 months past the expiration of my 3 year contract when the axe fell. I went home figuring on just grabbing another job in
the market. The next microphone I'd sit in front of is in Dallas all right - but is heard all around the world.
There are 14,000 radio stations in America. About 10% of them have programming coming from a building at Central Expressway
& Loop 635 in Dallas. This is ABC Radio's "Satellite Music Network". When I walked in the door they had over
1400 affiliates divided among 10 different formats. The studios were all right next to one another - lined up along a long
hallway. Each of these rooms represented hundreds of radio stations on the air live all around the world. I met with the
honchos, and they discussed where I might fit in. Lee Abrams was the PD of the SMN Classic Rock format. Lee wanted Bri,
but first I had to audition. To this point I'd been on just one station at a time - now I was gonna be on about 145 at once!
The stations were everywhere from Suburban Chicago, to the Virgin Islands. From Gemany to Hawaii. I was going to broadcast
to several time-zones at the same time. This was going to be different - very different. Now I'm going to be playing Zeppelin,
The Doors & Pink Floyd. Since I'd just been Dallas Ft. Worths "Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons Guy" -
this might be fun. It wasn't. Not that I didn't do well. My on air audition went well enough that within 2 weeks they had
an offer for a full time job. I was going to handle mid-days 10am-2pm central time. I was told there would be no other duties,
and I was expected to be there at 9:55am and leave at precisely 2pm. There were so many jocks on all these stations, they
didn't want anyone hanging around. Over nearly 20 years I'd learned how to connect with listeners one on one. How to bond
with a city & relate to local listeners. Now on a world-wide stage, all bets were off. I couldn't even say "Good
Morning", because where someone was listening it was afternoon or even night. I had to speak in broad generalities and
not imply to the local listeners I was in a studio in Dallas. This was hard - harder than anything I'd ever attempted on
air. I signed a one year deal with ABC and thought this was something that might grow on me. It didn't. Day after day,
the shows all kinda sounded the same. Why wouldn't they? I couldn't speak to just one listener at a time (like I'd learned)
- I had to address the masses with wide strokes. Oh, I came to work at 9:55am and left the second I closed the mic at 2,
but I knew this job was doomed right away. The ABC honchos liked my work, I was just professionally dis-satisfied. (This
is one of the reasons I hate satellite radio still today.) I had to get out of this, and I had to do it soon - before I went
mad - or worse still - begin to accept this sub-par radio. This is where Kellie Michaels comes in.
I got word in the radio trade magazines WNNS needed a morning guy yesterday. I called the Program Director - Kellie Michaels.
She knew me already. Actually we'd met years before in 1985. While home from New Orleans visiting my parents, I stopped
by WCVS to see old friends. Kellie was on the air that afternoon. I stuck my head in to say hi. It turns out the very day
I headed south on I-55 for San Antonio - she was headed north on I-55 to essentially take the place I'd just vacated at WCVS.
We passed each other on the highway. Back to the call to Kellie: She knew me - and wanted Bri right away. I sent a tape
for General Manager Tom Kushak to review - and just days later we were working out the details of my move back to Springfield.
Kellie's the one that picked me up at the airport. I remember both Tom & Kellie describing the station and the company.
"Come home Brian", they said. "You can work here forever", Kellie said. Bri said, "Right!!!!"
They didn't lie. Midwest Family Broadcasting opened their arms and have treated me like family since 1991. I got off to
a somewhat rocky start. Remember "Brian & Judy"? No? Remember "Brian & Bob"? No? Kellie stepped
in to save the day saying "I'll not ask someone else to do what I know can do myself"!!! She was the spark the
show needed. She became the audience I needed to have in the studio. She knows how to laugh. She makes me the foil. She
can make you cry one moment - and make you think the next. She's not full of herself. We've learned alot from each other
through the years. Mostly - that what we do is really fun. 50,000 watts and two microphones hold alot of power. We've always
been in awe that - remembering - in the end - it's all about you. If at the end of the day - we made you think - caused you
to smile - provoked an emotion or informed you - we've done our job. We have to do all those things everyday. Some stations
want to shock you. Some just want to rock you. All these years later - all I wanna be is - real. You know what? It's working.
We still have fun - and our audience - gives back so much everyday. You are the reason we still do this. Odds are - I've
met you personally. You have to do this a long time to meet the whole audience one at a time. I'm flattered you listen.
Ultimately I owe everything to you guys. Thank you so very much. I'll keep showing up - as long as you flip the radio on
now & then.
**Update. You know we ended up in Kansas. Journal Broadcastings KFDI-FM. We've been welcomed in much the same way Springfield
did all those years. We feel blessed.
Now, we have 100,000 watts to play with. 101.3 HDFM across much of Kansas. Other shows come & go. Brian & Kellie
just keep comin'.
Brian Pierce, "Be talkin' to ya".