Sunday, March 04, 2018

Oh 'Possum...

George -

Saw the query about when WNOX first began failing financially on the Ktown 101 blog. I think I can shed a bit of light on that.

Mack Sanders bought 'NOX; a class-A Nashville FM "Light Rock 100" as well as the old WENO AM; and a big FM stick and a 50k AMer that was daytime only in Birmingham (WERC). He flipped WNOX to country, put a giant painting of himself in the lobby and built a McMansion for himself in Thompson's Station, south of Nashville. Cash flow became an issue and he sold the broadcast properties to Elf, based in New York City. They quickly ran out of money and - faced with having to take back the stations - Mack scrambled to find another buyer. He found a group of good broadcasters who had stations in coastal Maine and Utica, NY. They were doing well and wanted to expand into the South. The best-known of them was Bob Dearborn, who was a top-notch personality in Chicago and other markets. The president was Rick James - former WCFL and WABC news anchor. Steve Hunter, who had been in news at WGN in Chicago also was in the group. I had known Rick since elementary school and I left WSM to sign on as the Nashville general manager. The Sanders stations' finances had been stressed before he sold them, became critical under Elf and landed on the rebranded REBS. I felt very sorry for the new company because I'm convinced previous financial shenanigans did it in. These were good people who deserved much better. In my last months with REBS, I was shuttling between Ashland City (near Nashville) and Knoxville to try to hold WNOX and WTNZ-FM together. In fact, I made the 1987 phone call to a friend at Dick Broadcasting that got WNOX sold to that solid group and preserved it. 

Paul Randall (Possum Riley) Dickerson