(reading time approximately 5 minutes)
Driving home from my Real Estate office, on Sunday afternoon in 1974, I was listening to Bernard Meltzer’s talk show on WCAU radio. He talked about many things, including real estate. His profession was as a Real Estate appraiser. Listening to his call about a real estate deal, it sounded familiar. His response to a caller was completely incorrect. As he continued with his advice, I recognized that the transaction was actually one of my deals. By his lack of details and inaccurate information he was besmirching my reputation. I was furious!
When I arrived home, my wife recognized my obvious anger by my demeanor. “What is wrong with you?” she asked. I explained. For his lack of experiences in this type of transaction, he was making me look like a charlatan to my client, who regarded Bernie as the second coming of the savior. My wife sat by my side to calm me. As I’m sipping a cool drink, she stood up and gleefully suggested, “I have an idea. Why don’t you start your own radio talk show?” I thought for a minute and said, “That is a great Idea!” I had plenty of experience with radio having been a ham radio operation for over a dozen years. One problem—Bernie was on the only talk radio station in Philadelphia. He had the one show of this kind, and management believed he knew what he was talking about.
In my attempt to interest another station in a talk format, I called radio stations from the Yellow Pages list. All other stations were successful with a music format and wouldn’t consider changing. I found one small 1,000 watt station, WEEZ in Chester Pennsylvania, which was struggling to survive and build a talk format. As they say, “Timing is everything, being at the right place, at the right time.” I called the owner Ernie Tannen who listened closely to my plan. He responded by saying, “Let’s do lunch today. I am definitely interested!”
I met with Ernie and his program director Wynne Moore, at a downtown restaurant that very day. They were trying to make a “talk radio” format work on this small station, and get into big business. My format would be real estate, insurance, building, remodeling, repairs, ancillary issues to home ownership and prudent management of family finances.
The next question was, how much income did I expect to produce the show? My answer was, “ZERO!” I would do it as a committee project for the Board of REALTORS. When it gets popular and makes money for the studio, we’ll talk. Meanwhile, it was a free-bee! How could they refuse? As the former President of my Board of REALTORS, a reputation of some kind had preceded me. They felt safe.
The next question was, how much time did I want. I said, “Four hours, 8 to 12 Saturday morning.” They laughed and said, “Nobody does a four hour talk show anywhere.” It was out of the question. Two hours was the absolute limit. My reply was, “I want four hours. I countered, “After my first show, if you don’t like the program, I’ll fold my tent and go. If you see it is working, I want four hours to continue doing a show.” Their answer was, “OK, let’s see how it goes.”
It went perfectly, with “wall to wall” callers. After 1 ½ hours on the air, the owner came into the studio and said, “Keep going for three hours today. Next week, you have your four hours.” That is how I became a radio talk show host.
Within a few months, I was offered a show on 50,000 watt WWDB in Philadelphia, on my own terms. I accepted. I was on the air for the next 28 years, including broadcasting live while traveling all of the lower 48 states. In 2002 the station was sold. The format changed to music and I retired at age 76.
I also did a short time with NBC Talk Net and was offered a full time show. I had to choose: move to New York full time, or keep my radio show in Philadelphia and my real estate business, which were convenient, established, comfortable and very profitable. I chose Philadelphia.
This was all from my wife’s advice, being at the right place at the right time, and offering a no cost deal to the station owner to get started. A win win situation, especially for me, with a special thanks to my competition, Bernie Meltzer, who made me mad enough for it all to happen.