Wednesday, July 19, 2006

"Great Times," Chapter 17

Copyright 2006, Terry F. Phillips Sr.

All rights reserved

Chapter 17

The next day found Ted sitting in a conference room with his boss, Mr. Beck and Mr. Howard, the station’s general manager.

Ted expected Mr. Howard to be wary of this presence. After all, the idea of someone new and young being asked to go on a fact-finding trip to California made his head swim - his ego, at least.

Surely there were many other people who would like to make the trip. Connie, for one. Why had she not been chosen? Was it because she was a woman or because she had not landed a full-time job with the station? Perhaps Beck just liked men better than women. No, he had been married, so that probably wasn’t the reason.

Howard was the first to speak as Beck and Ted listened intently to his every word.

“Men, for too long Chicago has been losing ground in the broadcasting business,” Howard said. “With a few exceptions, the networks have decided to originate from New York and the West Coast. We are in danger of being left out of things. Consequently, the big national advertising accounts tend to think of New York and Los Angeles when they are buying radio time.

“More importantly, radio as we know it, is winding down,” Howard continued. “Soon, people will watch TV in the evenings with as much interest as they now listen to programs like The Beer Hour and others.

“If we get left behind, we will get trampled under foot.

“Ted, as you know, WXBR is an independent station. We are not the only independent metro station in Chicago and we don’t have the Cubs or the White Sox games during the summer; we can’t carry the professional football or basketball teams either.

“The Beer Hour has been good to us, but it is expensive to produce. So far, it has not only paid its way, but its carried many of our sustaining programs. That won’t last forever.

“We’ve got to get ahead of the curve, fellas.”

Howard stopped to light a cigarette.

His demeanor surprised Ted. He was being the coach and the major market radio executive at the same time.

I guess that is how he made it this far, Ted thought.