It was July 29, 1991. It was exactly 11:30 AM.
And after a four year drought, I had a shot at getting back into the game.
After Joe Hanson sicced me on a lead for an “executive producer” at KSTP, I had had a phone interview with KSTP-AM’s general manager, Ginny Morris, the previous Monday. I can’t honestly remember much about it…
…but it must have gone well, since she’d arranged a second interview immediately. We’d meet for a lunch interview.
Which was today – at 11:30AM.
We met at “Keys”, a cafe in the Midway. Morris – one of the scions of the Hubbard clan, a granddaughter of Stanley Hubbard, the founder of KSTP, one of the great pioneers in broadcast history and one of the founders of radio as we know it today – arrived. We traded some small talk as we took a small table along the side wall. Or ordered a club sandwich; having never had a lunch interview before, I had actually gone to the library and researched what was and was not a good idea for eating at interviews.
The first half the interview was mostly your standard interview questions – “what’s your biggest weakness?”,that sort of thing.
And then, the second half? “What would you do if you were the executive producer?”
I hadn’t expected that.
But after listening to what they’d done with KSTP-AM – my station – the previous four years, I’d certainly thought about it.
I remembered what Bob Richardson had taught me at KEYJ ten years earlier. “I’d make sure everyone on the air did the station ID whenevever they open or close the mike”. Radio station ratings back then were rated by people who kept diaries of their listening. They’d track stations by one of four things that the people who analyzed the book could recognize; the call letters, the frequency, the motto and the air talent name. “So every time they turn the mike on or off, it’d be “…this is KSTP, AM1500, the Talk Station, I’m Barbara Carlson. Every time”.
She took notes.
“Oh, and Barbara Carlson?” I started, speaking of the station’s morning host, a legendary Minneapolis socialite and ex-wife of the sitting governor, Arne Carlson. Her show was kind of a melange of her larger-than-life, “brassy” personality on the one hand, and all sorts of political insider stuff on the other. “Pick one”, I said, “and incorporate the other side into it, so the show has a coherent identity. Be either a serious, sober political insider with a fun side, or be Barbara Carlson, with some politics”
We carried on like this for a good half an hour. I had plenty of ideas.
Finally, she had to get back to the office We shook hands. The body language seemed…good?
I couldn’t really tell by that point in my life. Nothing had worked out well for quite a while.
I was getting better at body language. She called me later in the day I was on the short list; she wanted a third interview, with her and the station’s consultant. Next week.