Monday, March 17, 2008

Congrats to J Blackburn

22° - clear at 8:14am

Congrats my friend Jay (J) Blackburn on the release of his book "The Radio Gypsies". Today is release day.

I don't have my copy yet (Jay's waiting for his promotional stock); but from the stories he has shared with me in recent years, the book should appeal to almost anyone in the biz.

A little bit about Jay: Back in the late 60s and early 70s, Jay was connected with station broker Art Holt. Art would send Jay to various markets to do quick turnarounds on properties to increase their value prior to sale. Jay would usually manage and program the properties for a short period of time.

At the beginning of 1977, he was hired by the Chess family (of the legendary Chess Records) to turn around then-jazz WSDM. His solution was a female-friendly AOR format.

Jay said it took 3 months to rebuild the facility or as he puts it "that old tube station" (under a very tight budget as I recall from a conversation with Jay years ago); and after the rebuild "it took us 7 months to become the number 1 AOR in the market", eventually running ABC (94.7) and NBC (101.1) out of the format in Chicago.

Jay hired some air talents from smaller markets who have since become legends in the business: Bill Evans, Patti Haze, Dave Logan, Les Tracy and Tom O'Toole. Yours truly was a fan of the station while I was doing radio in the suburbs.

After WLUP was sold (and went on to even a bigger life under Lee Abrams), Jay went on to manage stations in Seattle and Madison - as well as station ownership. He's now retired and living in San Antonio.

"The Radio Gypsies" is a novel based-on-real-life. From the back cover:

I can't wait to read myself. Congrats again Mr. Blackburn! Order via Amazon here.

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