During the last half of 1979 I began spending a lot of time away from home in Memphis. My ex-wife and kids had moved back to Georgia, so I was in Atlanta one weekend a month. Iíd spend Saturdays with the kids, and the rest of the weekend hanging out with the Atlanta promotion people. Occasionally, national promo guys would be in Atlanta on the weekend and that usually meant a lot of partying. Charlie Minor was famous for his "dinners". If Charlie invited me to dinner, I could count on at least 10 people, maybe more. Charlie would fly into Atlanta, be picked up by a limo, and whisked to a hotel where he would hold sway. Charlie knew more women than Hugh Hefner; he loved them. Charlie was a nice looking guy, dressed like a rock star, and lived large. When dinner plans were announced, you could always count on Charlie being late. Everyone would be irritable, then Charlie would arrive with a beauty on each arm and charm away the frustration of waiting and waiting. You couldnít get mad at him, he was too gracious and suave. Charlie did things for me which Iíll never forget. Out of work PDís knew that Charlie was smiling and dialing all his radio GM friends to help find them jobs. Charlie was very close to some very important guys and his recommendation carried weight. In later years, Charlieís health suffered from his recreation and finally his friends sat him down and scared him straight. During the last couple of years of his life, Charlie realized tremendous monetary success when A&M records was sold. He straightened up and looked great. Unfortunately the one thing Charlie loved the most, women, cost him his life. The last time I saw him was after a University Of Georgia football game in Athens. I canít remember the name of the bar, but it was very close to Sanford Stadium. I was with my girlfriend and another couple celebrating a Bulldog victory when the crowd parted and in walked Charlie, dressed in Versace, leading an entourage. They swept through the bar and then were gone. It seemed that everyone knew him. He hugged me then walked over to a very attractive co-ed, certainly twenty years younger than him, and after a hug and a whisper in her ear they were off. Vintage Charlie. Everybody loved Charlie Minor.
One of Charlie Minor's intimate dinners for 20.
L to R: Ol' Bear, Bobby Lenihan, Gator Lenihan, Sharon Kelley, me, Charlie, Charlie's date for the hour, Ron Brandon, Joel Denver at Rue De Paris in Atlanta.
My friend Mike Clark runs Southern Tracks studios in Atlanta. We decided to take a road trip to California. There was no particular itinerary or purpose except for having a good time. We flew to San Diego where Gerry Peterson arranged for some females friends to join us for an evening of partying. Clark and I went to every strip bar there. We even went to Tijuana for a day; filthiest place Iíve ever seen in my life. We decided that we had to make a trip to Blackís Beach near La Jolla, famous for nude sunbathers. No one told us you had to walk about three miles to get there. We trudged down the cliffs and strolled along the beach and saw more homosexuals than Iíd ever seen in one place in my life. Needless to say we didnít hang around. From San Diego, Clark, Peterson and I made our way to LA where Columbia Records was having a company meeting. Willie Nelson played for the meetingís closing evening and we went to the dinner. I was over served and made a complete fool of myself. Iím told that I gave Meatloaf my unabashed opinion of his album, and the promotion guys prevented me from getting a beating. Iím sure I embarrassed Clark to death. I was to go on to San Francisco the next day, flying up with Dave Sholin. The next morning I was in terrible shape. Sholin called the hotel from the airport in Burbank. I missed that flight, but there are commuter flights between LA and San Francisco about every hour, so I boarded the next flight. Just about the time were ready to take off I looked out the airplane window and thereís Peterson yelling for me. While in San Diego, we had incurred some entertainment expenses and I was suppose to give him some money. It was only $50.00 but he tracked me down to get the money. I waved bye as we taxied out to take off. I eventually paid him but not until I gave him a hard time about being so cheap.
My friend Mike Clark or "Chopper". This was taken at an RMR convention, late 70's. Our exploits are legendary, but some we're sworn not to reveal!
I got to San Francisco and caught a cab to the Hyatt Embarcadero. Sholin and I were to be picked up at the airport by some local promotion guys and we were going to Oakland for the Stone Concert that evening. I had no idea where anyone was or how to get in touch with anyone, so I just checked into the hotel and waited. About a half hour went by before the phone rang. It was Lou Galliani; heíd been sent to find me. I met Lou downstairs and we jumped in a limo and headed for Oakland Stadium. It was Mick Jaggerís birthday and Bill Graham had invited us to a backstage party. Mick Jagger was chatty and sociable, and offered me a joint as we sat backstage. It was a ball. About dusk, the stage lit up and it was show time. Helicopters dropped inflatable dolls over the stadium; it was the "Some Girls" tour. After the concert we all piled back in the limos and left with the Stones. We had a motorcycle escort and went flying into downtown Oakland. Our car was about one back from the ones carrying the Stones. We came to a street that was blocked off. From out of nowhere, some guys opened a space in the barricades and the entire line of limos shot through. I watched as the guys replaced the barricades. The procession then turned into an alley and stopped. We all got out. I had no idea where we were going. One by one we went through a door that had suddenly opened on the side of a building. The passageway was dark and emptied into a small club. Then, the real birthday party for Mick began. The stories I could tell.
Backstage with Mick Jagger July 26, 1978 at the Oakland Coliseum
The NAB was holding itís annual convention in St Louis and I regained the responsibility for planning the RKO PD meeting to take place before the convention. I looked at a map and the only place that looked logical was a resort at Lake Of The Ozarks. Actually, Les Garland had suggested it because his sons didnít live far from there and after the convention Sholin, Garland, his sons, and I were going to spend a few days fishing and relaxing. I made the arrangements, except this time it was up to everyone to get themselves there. A chartered bus was not an option; wonder why? Lake Of The Ozarks is a beautiful place...with nothing to do except fish, golf, play tennis, or drink. Most of the PDs were really disgusted with this network business. I donít remember much about the meeting, but the recreation was wild. First, let me state that outside of the staff at the resort and some older visitors, there were no women within 50 miles of the place. That took care of us pretending to be a rock group. I think it was Bob Hamilton from KRTH who discovered that there were boat rentals at the resort. The RKO Invitational PD Regatta was born instantly. We rented every boat they had and took off across the lake at break neck speed. After a hour or so of horsing around, some of the guys got tired and went back to dock. A couple of boats decided to venture farther away. We spotted some girls sunbathing on the hull of a boat. We were there in a heartbeat. We started talking to them, offered them a beer, and all of a sudden one of the PDs drops his bathing suit and dives in the water. We were as shocked as the girls, who departed quickly. Garland and I left the guy in the water and took off after the girls in our boat, leaving the naked guy behind with no suit. We never caught the girls. There was no regularly scheduled air service in and out of the resort. When it was time to go to St Louis, Iíd made arrangements for a charter plane to pick us up. We got to the airport and the plane wouldnít hold all of us and our bags. Besides that, Garland refused fly on the plane. Ok, it was a prop job, a puddle jumper, and a little old. Garland, Sholin, and I chartered a separate small plane for the trip back.
RKO PD Meeting at Lake of The Ozarks
I can't remember everyone but the top L-R are: ?, Garland, ?, Chuck Martin, Don Kelly, ? Bob Hamilton, ? Bottom L to R: me, Dave Sholin, Rick Shaw
The NAB convention was dull and in addition the brass at RKO Radio were beginning to do some strange things. All of the PDís knew that the company was forming a network. We didnít know what that meant to our respective station. Case and the guys at the RKO Radio rep firm thought this was just the greatest idea in the world. Since previous leadership had sold off many of the FMs, RKO was locked into LA, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Boston, Washington, and Ft Lauderdale. Not all the stations were doing as well as WHBQ. The rep firm needed more listeners to get national advertising. ABC, NBC, and CBS all had networks affiliates and that helped deliver a lot of ears and dollars. The RKO stations were landlocked. The AMs (with the exception of WOR) were suffering from increasing FM penetration. The FMs were not setting the world on fire. RKO had to do something, so they decided to make a network. The PDs figured all we might suffer in the deal was increased spot loads. Many network affiliates carried no net programs; they just aired the commercials. Limos carried all the PDs, the rep firm people, and a couple of RKO GMs to an exclusive restaurant in St Louis. The drinks were flowing and the steaks were served and the RKO bigwigs had a real surprise for us. We were going to be required to carry some RKO Network programming. None of us were happy. Being the hellion I was, I refused to clap or stand when the presentation was over. My protest was noticed. The tough part was that Jo Interante, probably the best News Director in radio had been promoted from KFRC to a new network position. Jo was a friend and I know it was tough for her to face us when the news was given. I honestly think that was the first time she heard the "must carry" rule. The fancy dinner ended on a very sour note. Additionally, I got angry because the bartender didnít move fast enough. I reached over the bar to grab a bottle and cracked a rib. It wasnít a good night for me. I really showed my rear; it was becoming a regular thing for me. The next day, we went to pick up Garlands sons. I was in tremendous pain from the cracked rib. I stayed pretty "out there" for the next two days trying not to spoil the party. I volunteered to cook for the gang. Dave Sholin had never had some of the things I cooked but he loved my country cooking. Sholin also had never been camping before. We were sitting by the campfire the first night and he looked at Garland and me and said "Whatís that noise"? It was cicadas, tree frogs, and crickets. We told him and he said "you mean those are bugs"? He thought it was so cool and recorded a cassette of the "bugs" to take back to San Francisco. Before leaving, we made plans to spend Thanksgiving together in San Francisco.
Garland, Sholin, and me chillin' in the Ozarks after the convention and PD meeting.
As the Fall of 1979 approached I was really depressed. I was drinking and recreating a lot. I saw nothing but trouble ahead and for some reason I chose to punish myself instead of trying to find a way out of there. I was fiercely loyal to RKO and hoped loyalty would get me out of Memphis. At this point I would have gone anywhere. I was also suffering from an enormous ego problem. I really believed I was invincible. No one could talk to me or tell me anything. T.J. Donnelly was pressuring me to find a morning show. He came to me one day with a tape of a guy heíd gotten from one of his "idea club" buddies. The air check was of a guy in Little Rock. T.J. thought he was great; I wasnít that impressed, especially when I found out the guy wasnít even working at a station; he was selling cars. Paul Mayer wanted the morning shift really bad, but T.J. didnít like Paul. He wanted the guy from Little Rock. l struck a deal to partner Paul with the guy. We would called them "Gallagher and the Mayer". Gallagher was really supposed to be the straight man and Paul the funny one. I knew in my heart of hearts it wasnít going to work. Mayer hated the guy. It wasnít a pretty situation. I had hired a news guy who was another of T.J.ís recommendations. He sucked and beat his wife. I really didnít care about my job anymore. Just before Thanksgiving, I took off for LA. Michael Kleffner was trying to get me and Garland in as extras on "The Blues Brothers" movie. I hung around LA a few days, but the call never came to go to the studio. On Thanksgiving Eve The Duke (Dave Sholin), The Duchess (Debbie Sholin) and I drove to Sausalito. We met Johnny Barbis and his wife, Garland and his girlfriend, Kleffner and his wife and my girlfriend, who had flown in from Memphis. We stayed at someoneís house, I think it was the Starshipsís attorneyís place. We stayed up most of the night. The girls cooked. We had a goose, a turkey, and a ham and every side dish imaginable. Thanksgiving morning the guys were sitting around watching football, when the doorbell rang. It was Bill Graham. He came over to wish us Happy Thanksgiving and dropped off some "Cosmic Cookies". I grabbed one and ate it before anyone could stop me. THEN they told me to be careful. They were tasty cookies and I must say; I had a fantastic appetite for Thanksgiving Dinner. Kleffner is funny guy. He showed up for dinner wearing a jesters outfit and kept us laughing all afternoon. That was the last time I got to be with Dave, Les, Johnny, and Michael. We always had a ball together. Garland was always prodding me to do mischievous pranks; Sholin was always a steadying influence. I love both of those guys.
Michael Kleffner clowning around with Debbie Sholin (The Duchess). Thanksgiving in Sausalito.
Dave and Debbie Sholin feeding each other.
Seated: Dave Sholin, Johnny Barbis, Me, Michael Kleffner, baby girl Kleffner, Mrs. Kleffner, Les Garland, Chris (Les's girlfriend) Standing: Sharon Kelley and "Eddy" Barbis
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