Cecil Heftel was one of the original godfathers of Top 40 Radio when he introduced that format on KIMN - Denver in 1957. Certainly one of the most inventive ring masters, �Cec� rode �KIM� to the top of the ratings, even with three other full time competitors, KTLN, KOSI & KMYR chasing after him. His move to Hawaii repeated his Denver success many times over as KMJB became the flagship of what his impressive group of stations, built from the ground up. In time Cecil Heftel would serve Hawaii as a five term congressman.
Cecil Heftel 2005, always appreciated
One morning in early 1974, while sitting in the office wing of my Northridge, California home, I received a phone call from the man who would become a client of my John Rook & Associates consulting firm. �Mr. Rook, hold on for Mr. Heftel�, said his secretary as I leaned back in my office chair. For months the trade journals had reported Cecil Heftel�s return to the mainland with his purchase of radio stations in Fort Lauderdale and Pittsburgh. A dozen or more years had passed since I witnessed first hand how KIMN had gobbled up the Rocky Mountain west. My career had changed from being a disc jockey to being named Program Director of the Year and now a radio consultant with a dozen or more clients nationally. That first conversation was short and sweet. Following a brief greeting Heftel asked, �John when can I see you here in Honolulu�? Taking a moment to look over my schedule I replied, �What�s next week look like for you?� �Tomorrow looks best for me�, was his reply as he asked me to hold on for his secretary to coordinate my travel to Honolulu.
A day later I was sitting in front of Cecil Heftel in his KGMB radio/tv office as he explained he wanted me to consult his mainland stations, starting first in Florida. �Dick Casper will be calling you to invite your participation, he just doesn�t know it yet� said Heftel, �when he calls make him think its his idea, you and I haven�t talked�, he added. �Be my eyes and ears, spend a few days analyzing the situation there and we�ll talk then, was his final words before sending me back home to California awaiting a telephone call from Casper, who managed Heftel�s mainland radio stations.
Upon my return home, the industry was abuzz with Buzz rumors. Buzz Bennett, having kicked off programming at Y-100 in Florida was said to have been �moved out�. Within 48 hours I was traveling east to meet with Casper in Ft. Lauderdale. His employment would last for just a few weeks before Cecil Heftel arrived on the mainland to take a firmer hand in running his radio stations. He insisted I take over the day to day programming responsibility of Y-100, something I told him I could not do while consulting a dozen or more stations nationally. �Alright then, find a program director for Y-100� he said, �And if he doesn�t do the job, then both of you will be gone�.
Sebastian Stone, program director of KFRC in San Francisco, was a good friend that I trusted for his programming savvy. His station consulted by Bill Drake, had bolted to the top of the radio ratings in the Bay City. Sebastian had high praise for a young programmer out of Mississippi named Bill Tanner, who I ironically I had just met a day or two before. It was a lucky break for me and for Heftel when I persuaded Tanner to take over the programming reins of Y-100. Within a few months the ratings doubled, making it south Florida�s favorite radio station.
As a consultant, I spent very little time inside any of my client�s radio stations. Never all that comfortable being on stage myself, I always made sure the program director was in the driver�s seat, I was simply a director working off camera. The Florida experience brought great enjoyment. Tanner caught on fast to any views I had, so it was me giving direction while enjoying the Florida beaches. Within a few days �Y-100 was south Florida�, in every conceivable way. You could just feel it each time you tuned in, no station in the market came close to the localizing and �predictable unpredictability� of Bill Tanners talents. His stage was Y-100 and the show never stopped.
"Tanner in the Morning" Banana Joe Don Cox
Surrounded by on air talents, Robert W. Walker, Quincy McCoy, Jo Jo Kincaid, Don Cox, Banana Joe, Larry McKay and others with catchy hip names such as Earl the Pearl and Mark in the Dark, Bill Tanner�s Y-100 was to the east as Bill Drake�s KHJ was to the west. Attempts to copy were heard all over the nation, but with only one southern California and one south Florida, the programming on KHJ & Y-100 fit like a glove on the two markets they served, impossible to duplicate elsewhere.
It was Y-100�s owner, Cecil Heftel who named Joe Montione, �Banana Joe� prior to a career advance to WFIL in Philadelphia and KHJ in Los Angeles. �Let�s give him a south Florida flavor�, said �Cec� as he added a monkey and a banana shaped car for a youthful �Banana�s� Florida appearances. Heftel paid top dollar to this programming staff and on-air talent. �It all starts with those who create it� he said, "they drive the new Cadillac�s, the sales people drive the fords�.
Early in his career John Em covered the news on Y-100. In the years since, his distinctive voice informs the listeners of KGO-San Francisco and KOA-Denver. Many of those who contributed to Y-100�s success went on to leave their own imprint as programmers. One, Eric Rhoads, moved into the print media with several publications to his credit, including RadioInk.com.
Y-100 stayed at the top of the Florida ratings for several years until it was sold by Cecil Heftel prior to his appetite for politics found him chosen by the electorate of Hawaii as their four term representative in the congress of the United States. But radio was in his blood as upon his retirement from politics he again gave birth to a new Heftel Broadcasting. While it was their Y-100 that captivated Florida, my association with it delivered more than one client to my radio consultation business.
Today, Bill Tanner continues to leave his mark as one of the nations top radio consultants. He�s the cream of the crop. The best there is to my way of thinking.
ReelRadio.com salutes the legendary Y-100 here
(return to www.JohnRook.com home page)
All Content on
this Web site � 2006 John H. Rook
All Rights Reserved
The opinions & commentary posted on this website are those of John Rook, unless otherwise noted