Remember that RKO General, the owner of KFRC, KHJ, CKLW, WRKO, etc., in their heydays, was General Tire and Rubber Company.
A "red herring
" is something a person throws into the middle of a conversation to change its direction. It's like a "diversion" in the movies when they're trying to sneak in or out of a guarded place. Blow up a mailbox two blocks away.
This kind of distraction draws attention away from the main topic which included Ralph Barbieri. It happens here all the time.
But let's look at this thing and see just how fishy it is that RKO sold tires (they sold a LOT of things)
- and if it pertains to that which we were ruminating
That corporations and business is changing is NOT where we're at here. We were at the less than human manner
in which broadcasters (Ralph being the topic starter here
) have been dismissed - without so much as a "thank you," or "nice working with you." By comparison
, and that's the mind's primal function
, today's radio station owners and their manager toadies are cruel and stupid.
Cruel because they are so preoccupied with their own performance that they forgo their ability to see the people nor their strengths they're working with, and thus the abilities in all their complexity are ignored, the people viewed as an obstacle to profits, no more.
Stupid because they just overlooked one of their prime resources for bringing in revenue. What they saw as a large figure eating the Bottom Line is actually someone contributing to its growth. Without that person, less growth. They decided against the contributing person in favor of the Yes Man. Cruel, stupid. The Yes Man will contribute nothing and simply agree with his three-piece suited Lord all the way to the unemployment line. Didn't have to be that way. Unnecessarily cruel. Ignorant to the point of ridicule.
I am glad as hell I was in the radio carnival when the merry-go-round was well lubed, playing captivating tunes and spinning like a top. THAT was a few decades of big fun. A drug? Only if you allow yourself to be dependent on it, become attached, love the taste of red herring or integrate that activity into your imagined identity. But, if you can appreciate the Big Motion as it is, you know ALL things must pass, and even the Scrooge machines in charge of this ugly period of horrible cookie-cutter content they call broadcasting is on the way out. With NOTHING of which to be proud.
That broadcast corporations are heartless business entities is nothing new and certainly not the focus of this thread. Business is business and while it used to be operated on the principle that as long as the employee is producing, they're valuable, keep them, now the rules have changed. Not for the best either, especially when we look at the Sacred Bottom Line, which has become inconsistent, fragile every month and, by comparison, smaller. There is desperation in the hall ways. And fear.
Because of the new financial structures, management types have to deal with people over which they have no power, the stockholders. They don't know how to do this so they ask. Higher ups and consultants all spout out the same format: now we must appease stockholders by cutting costs. Why? Because they blew it and got rid of the creative people, the money makers. Now they have no individual means of making money come in.
RKO was no gem either. They were far from a model corporation overall, with it's shady dealing in foreign countries, ties to criminals in the elective government, bribes, slush funds and such dark doings, but they were a a great corporation for their bottom rung players, the radio broadcasters.
When a piece of radio equipment wore out or started acting fidgety at an RKO station it was never fixed
, even though we had the world's best techs, but was immediately replaced
. They put in a new one of whatever it was - cart machine, EQ rack, studio monitors, whatever. RKO had a traditional understanding and respect for it's own and, in particular, it's program creators. It was business based.
"What's on the air right NOW is the most important thing in the world
." That was our prime tenet, our core koan. This mutual regard between management and performers, and willingness to procure for them what they needed to get the job done was a show-biz standard at RKO for radio as well as motion pictures.
As a corporation, RKO got into the same kind of trouble anyone with too much money can, and do today. They weren't just broadcasters, or tire dealers. They were international players. Radio and rubber were just some of the things they did, and with excellence enough to be remembered today. Sadly, RKO cannot boast of these high standards throughout its tale.
In 1965, as RKO General applied for renewal of its license for KHJ-TV in Los Angeles they were challenged with "reciprocal trade practices," the charge that General Tire conditioned its dealings with certain vendors on the basis that they would in turn buy advertising time on RKO General stations. Similar legal obstacles occurred with their operations coast to coast.
In 1975, it was alleged that General Tire bribed foreign officials, maintained a slush fund for U.S. political campaign contributions, and misappropriated revenue from overseas operations...
The FCC stripped RKO of WNAC-TV's license in 1980, finding that RKO "lacked the requisite character" to be the station's licensee...
On April 19, 1982, RKO had lost a long-fought case for good. Cited as most damning was RKO's dishonesty before the Commission.
In August 1987, the FCC found RKO "unfit to be a broadcast licensee due to a long history of deceptive practices." The FCC consequently found that RKO had displayed a "persistent lack of candor" regarding its own and General Tire's misdeeds, thus threatening "the integrity of the Commission's processes." That FCC ruling meant that RKO lost the KHJ-TV and WOR-TV licenses as well.
All of which is to say - here's a corporation, as far back as twenty-five through fifty years ago, that was not a model operation
. But they were FAR BETTER BROADCAST BUSINESS MINDS THAN WE HAVE TODAY
. RKO, as awkward in high government as a one-legged thief on stilts, had a hard time in the courts, but never in the field. They knew their customers (listeners) well, and gave them what they wanted. The corporation supplied the talent and artillery necessary to win.
in their companies and in those who they populated their radio stations. They made so much money doing radio the right way, that a different temptation, associated with possessing a huge treasure and character of less than equal magnitude, dogged them unmercifully. They ultimately paid the price for their indiscretions, but it turns out to be footnotes next to the legends of wildly inspired, larger-than-life radio entertainment they practiced across the USA for such an extended period of our personal history.
And their stations were honored, extremely successful, even mythical in lore, even when being divested.
Compare to corporations that own huge clusters of radio stations in each town across our land today. Still heartless. But they sound two dimensional, immature and chaotic. And possess far worse business acumen than the Three Stooges.