PHOTO INDEX: WARM NEWS DIRECTOR JERRY HELLER. (FROM PHOTO PROVIDED BY KEVIN JORDAN).
Recently I was doing some TV coverage for a local TV station and I was struck by the fact that the media pretty much traveled in a pack. It got me thinking about how WARM news was covered back in their halcyon days. I was told by a news reporter that Jerry Heller the News Director at WARM urged his reporters to get exclusive sound from the subject of a news story. Let me explain: let’s say there was a government official talking about a budget cut. At a news conference with a whole room of reporters, everyone covering it there got the same sound. What Heller wanted, even demanded, was that his reporter linger behind and ask their own question to either get a different take of what was said, an entirely different perspective than what was portrayed or just a different way of saying what the subject said to the others. WARM sometimes required its reporters to phone in sound. This was done by going to a land line, unscrewing the mouthpiece and hooking up two circuits to the inside of the phone. You transmitted your sound that way through the phone lines. That way, the story was on the Mighty 590 even before the reporter got back to the newsroom. WARM Radio was always rated number 1 in news. It was because reporters were encouraged to work just a bit harder and get all of the story. WARM was for sure “First News First” but it also did its best to get the most exclusive sound they could. The WARM News Department operated on the age old broadcast principle, “what came out of that speaker was the most important thing you did”.
Monday, February 21, 2011
LENNY AND GEORGE
Today we celebrate President’s Day which is part of a traditional three day weekend. But once upon a time Lincoln’s Birthday (February 12th) was celebrated as well as George Washington’s Birthday. WARM Radio once ran a type of promotion that garnered a lot of attention in its fledgling days. WARM Radio’s Len Woloson (who was doing all nights) agreed to dress up as George Washington. To set this up, the station management arranged a bogus phone call that reported a figure looking like Washington was seen on the banks of the Susquehanna throwing silver dollars into the river. The management at WARM were no fools but also were very frugal. So Lenny just threw one or two for effect. The intrepid Frank Jay who doubled as a sales rep followed Woloson uh, Washington around reporting it as if it were a news story. Like children following the pied piper, the local media followed suit and reported the pilgrimage. Woloson then walked across the Market Street Bridge from Kingston to Wilkes Barre . The plan was for Woloson to walk into the always crowded Europa Lounge on Public Square in full Mount Vernon regalia and order a piece of cherry pie. People were making such a fuss that somehow Lenny never got around to ordering the pie. It has been reported that Len wasn’t making a lot of money at the time and opted for a few steak dinners while he was there instead the less inexpensive dessert. Whatever the case, WARM’s little promotion had its desired effect. That station with “the crazy kids music” had gotten the attention of the media, adult listeners and history buffs. Again, the promotion cost little but gained a lot. In future Presidential holidays, Tommy Woods visited lucky winners with Cherry pies. (See 590 MIGHTY MEMORY #561, February 15th, 2009) WARM also gave away those pies in subsequent promotions. But it all began with Lenny Woloson taking the bait and posing as our first President.