There are so many stories about Dick
Bailey, who owned WRAN from 1974 until 1980. The
accepted story was that he was the son of a wealthy
businessman who bought the station for Dick to run,
which he did, right into the ground....
Harold worked at WRAN during the early 1970s, and wrote the following a few years ago which was passed along to us...
Pictures and articles from the
Dick Bailey era:
As Rich Phoenix likes to say, WRAN was the REAL WKRP. No, we never dropped turkeys from a helicopter, but probably only because Dick Bailey couldn't get a 'copter "on trade."
By 1979, most of the on air folks shown above had left WRAN. Here is where I come into the picture. In June 1978 I graduated from the University of Maryland with one goal: to get a paying job at a commercial radio station. I sent dozens and dozens of cassette tapes to stations advertising openings in Broadcasting and Radio and Records. Sometime that summer I got a a call from PD Mike Ofsanka (known on the air as Paul Michaels.) I'll never forgot him saying "if you had your First (he meant the FCC First Class Commercial ticket) I would hire you." That, and a bout with mononucleosis (she was worth it) inspired me to get my ticket, which I did after attending a six-week crash course in Fredericksburg, VA. (Could I have passed it on my own? Probably but I wanted a job. And I kept hearing Mike's voice in my head... "if you had your First...")
The DAY I passed my test I called Mike and said "sir, you said if I got my ticket my night have a job for me. Well, I got it!" Mike had me come for an interview and on October 15, 1978, under the kind guidance of Jackie Rose I learned the basic of running the board. At 9pm I sat down and cued up my first record, Steely Dan's PEG, which I chose because of the lyric :
"This is your big debut, it's like a dream come true..."
Paul, Jackie, and Kevin Bowland, who would later become my best friend, sat in Paul's car in the WRAN parking lot and listened to this extremely nervous, but enthusiastic, young man living out (if only for three hours) a dream. At midnight Jackie came in and showed my how to shut down the station (we had a 24 hour license but no one working the graveyard shift) and then "leaked" the news Paul was going to hire me.
Until I saw this article I had completely forgotten this promotion. After my foray into broadcasting (and a few other industries) I spent three decades in public relations and marketing. I mention this because NOTHING I ever did matches the genius of this stunt (no, it wasn't my idea, damn it!) Dick Bailey knew he didn't have the $1510 dollars to give away but with the odds of a piece of Skylab winding up in the hands of someone who read the Dover Daily Record were, well... astronomical. (yes, I went there)
Absolutely delighted to have reconnected with
afternoon man Steve Table,
There is a classic small market radio story about
The night-time signal sucked and we were in the shadow of 50,000 watt AM behemoths like WABC and WNBC. Yet WRAN had its fans. Even I had my fans, however few in number they might have been. My greatest enjoyment and, looking back, my greatest accomplishment, was making connections with people simply by being a friendly voice on the radio.
In 1980 I convinced Dick Bailey to let me host a three-hour program of Big Band music, which was called The Big Band Parade. (Had anyone at WRAN been watching they would have noted the dramatic shift in music radio listenership from AM to FM, and how some AM stations were managing GREAT ratings by serving older listeners with Big Band and "popular" music.) Listeners were invited to bring their personal collections of their favorite stars to the station. One fan came for a show and, like The Man Who Came to Dinner, never left. His name was Bob Pepitone, a HUGE Louie Prima fan who became the unofficial co-host of the Big Band Parade for most of its run.
It's hard to imagine that WRAN under Dick Baliey ever made any money. (On Fridays we would race to the bank to cash our checks before the money in the station account ran out, which it sometimes did.) Like every station since KDKA first went on the air, we employed a method called "trade," which was to run advertising for stores and companies but instead of getting money, we would let them pay us in goods and services. By 1980 the station was falling on some pretty hard times, so to boost morale someone arranged for the station to get all new wallpaper (a trade, of course) and to celebrate we held a "wallpaper party." L-R in this picture are Steve Table, former chief engineer Ed Benkis, Dick Bailey (owner), and Ed's wife.
So what was it like working for Dick Bailey? Perhaps these final two items will help you decide. Do you see the brown shirt upon which Nick Sullivan (the Program Director from 1977 to 1979) is laying? It was a sleeveless shirt that so enraged Dick Bailey that he fired Nick when he refused to go home and return in "proper business attire." Nick went on to WMTR and ended up on the air in Philadelphia. No word if he still owns the shirt.