Saturday, March 24, 2007

1962 Aircheck

This aircheck was forwarded by Jim Pitcock. Thanks so much. I have heard this before. It was recorded off the skywave and had a speed problem that was playing too fast. I couldn't even recognize George J. Jennings' voice. I have worked on it. It may not be exactly right but it is much better. On this air check you will hear the 1st Buddy Karr , Tom Bigby, George J. Jennings, some of the original jingles that only aired for a short time before being replaced. There is a promo "M Squad" that has very historical significance in that all of the original 1st jocks speak a line or two.

Enjoy and let me hear you comments:

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

San Antonio Express Obit

The San Antonio Express Obit adds some people we haven't heard from, so I would like to add it FYI:

Jennings 03/20/2007
George Walter Jennings, 67, died in San Antonio, March 15, 2007. Best known as news director of WOAI Radio in San Antonio during the 1980's, he was instrumental in the growth of Clear Channel Communications, setting up radio news operations in several of the broadcasting group's Southwestern markets, including Beaumont, New Orleans, and Tulsa. Notable news broadcasters who were taught their trade by George include NBC news anchor Ken Herrera, ESPN Washington host Andy Polin, and ABC vice president John McConnell. George was born in Mexia, Texas, February 1, 1940 to Walter and Helen Kelly Jennings, and grew up in Dallas. He was preceded in death by his son, Gregory Hale Jennings, and is survived by his wife Nancy Seerden Jennings and a son, Dean Vaughan Jennings, his wife Karen Holmes Jennings and a granddaughter Genevive Leigh Jennings of Boise, Idaho.

The Briefing Notebook

Thanks to "The Briefing Notebook" for their coverage of the George Jennings story. We have linked back and forth to the point I sometimes forget where the material originated. This comment was posted on The Briefing Notebook and refers to a period in time when I had left KAAY to manage KCLA in Pine Bluff AR. I have avoided much reference to this as this is a blog about KAAY. Someday perhaps someone will do a KCLA blog which is a story unto its own. This was in the late 70s:

Actually, A. J. Lindsey (aka Doc Holiday) was
General Manager of KCLA at the time and George
(not Sonny) came to work there with "Doc". George
was there long enough to work out a Pine Bluff
Bureau deal with KARK TV and train up and coming
newsman, Bill Sadler before leaving to launch a
News formatted FM at 95.7 on your radio dial. Yes, it is now KSSN 96 FM.

Breakfast Serial

George was a good friend and I loved working with him. When I wanted to bring MY version of "The Breakfast Serial" to radio here in the St. Louis Market, George gave his blessing and supplied me with tape during the first year or so of the run.

Later, when I started to syndicate the show he, again, was a main supporter and was proud of the job I did with the show.

I've always been grateful that George and I crossed paths...he was one of a kind.

My sincere thoughts and prayers go out to Nancy and his family.

Jonnie King / St. Louis

Monday, March 19, 2007

1962 Photo

In His Own Words

George Jennings wrote the following for this blog in Sept. of 2006.

George J. Jennings tells how he came to KAAY
The following is George's recount of how he came to KAAY and where the "J." came from. His real name is George W. Jennings.

In the summer of 1962, I was a disc jockey at WRR in Dallas. All of a sudden on a Sunday afternoon there was a pounding on the back door of the station. It was a person named Jack Grady who was looking for a friend of his who allegedly worked at the station. I let him in and he came into the booth where I was playing records and sat for about three hours, while he waited for his friend to show up. Grady was between planes at Love field and had nothing else to do. During that time I did several rip and read newscasts. Grady left about 6 PM and I thought I would never hear from him again. About 2 weeks later, I heard from Grady. He had heard my newscasts and thought I would be perfect for a station signing on in Arkansas. On a whim, I took my wife, infant son, and cat, and drove 300 miles to Little Rock. I had no idea what a newsman does. When the station signed on as KAAY, it was distinguished by playing "Baby Elephant Walk" and reading the Little Rock telephone directory 24 hours a day. We would say things like, "The friendly giant welcomes Mr. and Mrs. Jack Jones of 123 Apple Street to the land of KAAY. During this time I rip and read newscasts. After about a week, I started trying to figure out what a newsman was suposeded to be and started actually covering things. For the first two months Grady was news director but he left to pursue "other interests". At that time, the disc jockeys used all fake names. During the entire time I was at the station, I used my own name, except for the J. initial that was inserted in the middle. It finally became a situation, where I was inserted in the morning program with a number of Sonny Martins or Emperor Holiday,adding wit and humor or setups for the DJ to play off of. That was the entire pattern for my stay until 1974. Through a pattern of attrition I became news director, operations manager plus salesman at KAAY. I eventually had another newsman working with me, and over the period, I became a fair newsman, so much so that I was able to become news director for such stations as WOAI, San Antonio, and WFAA in Dallas, with stops in New Orleans, Louisville, Minnapolis. KAAY was for me a testing ground, where I learned what I needed to. I am still in contact with Grady and I curse him every time I speak to him. I am now retired in San Antonio and have nothing to do with radio except for constant listening to old time radio shows.

A Great Way to Remember George!

Relive one of his newcasts. This newscast comes from January 1964. The newscasts were still at :15 and :45 later changed to the top of the hour. This comes from a Sept. blog entry:

More additions

Previously I had linked to this blog and now I refer you there again to read all the way to the bottom and the comment from Jack Grady. Jack was the first news director at KAAY and was John K. Anderson. Somewhere I have read the story of Jack hiring George for KAAY. I will try and find it. Meanwhile:

From Guin Reeves RE: George Jennings

I cannot believe my mentor, friend and "radio daddy" (along with Sonny Martin)is mortal, after all. I was a scared young female broadcaster just finishing broadcast school when George hired me at the old KXXA (which became KSSN FM 96) in 1977. George was a character, and one of the finest people I ever knew. George developed my on-air voice, and I would never have had the wonderful career I had without his help. I would love to hear from Nancy and some of the old crew, Sonny Martin, Ken Moyer and me at and leave a phone number or address. I feel like a piece of my heart has been ripped off. My memory of George includes his standard gear for his shift: a big cigar and a huge mega-cup of Dr. Pepper (I think it was Diet Dr. Pepper).

Sunday, March 18, 2007

From Jim Harvill

Just a quick note to express that my prayers are with Nancy and with you as well. I know your friendship with George was one you treasured. As trite as it may sound, George truly was one of a kind. I count it an honor to have worked with him and you, albeit too briefly, in Pine Bluff. Apparently, God needed a newsman and He got the best one I ever heard in George J. Jennings.

In case you just tuned in......

All of the posts the past few days have centered around the passing of George Jennings.
Many of these posts are from associates of his with WOAI. George was there 22 years. The longest George was ever in one spot in his life. George and Nancy have a fondness for San Antonio that I don't understand but obviously respect there choice. WOAI has a revision of their story on the web page:

Outside of LR and San Antonio

George Jennings... my friend. I loved him like a father and owe all that I've done in broadcasting to this man. George and I first met at KPAC in Port Arthur, Texas back in 1978... we worked together for the next 10 years at three stations: KPAC, WOAI and WFAA in Dallas. George was the first to let me "anchor" a newscast when others said I "Wasn't anchor material..." Stints at KNX in Los Angeles, UPI Radio, NBC Radio, as morning anchor, and AP Radio, again as morning anchor proved George was right and the others were wrong. I am deeply saddened by news of his death. He truly was my mentor and the reason I am where I am today in the industry. There are others like me. Let me name a few who worked with George way back when in Port Arthur: Andy Pollin, now with WTEM in DC and one of the originals at WFAN when everyone said all-sports would fail... Michael Packer, former PD of WLS now involved in consulting.... John McConnel, VP of ABC Radio... ALL of us had the honor of learning from that crusty old man and all of us are better broadcasters today because of that experience.
George, I will miss you. I feel fortunate knowing that before you left us I was able to tell you how much you meant in my life. I hope that now that you are gone you realize just what a monumental impact you had on the lives of MANY in your chosen industry. I will never, ever forget you my dear, dear friend. There was great comfort in knowing for these many years that Jennings was on the case somewhere... that security blanket has been stripped from us all and now the world is a slightly meaner and nastier place. Jennings was rough, but Jennings was ALWAYS right. I feel as though I have lost a father.

Ken Herrera
Morning Host

More Comments

I've corrected the WOAI website story, thank you for the information.

I talked with George's widow, Nancy, today. She's doing well, but no funeral is planned. I'm encouraging some longtime radio folks in the area to take her to lunch in a couple of weeks and "share" George stories, something she seemed excited about.

Despite her stoicism, I hate to think of her being "alone" at this time. She's even requested family not to come to be with her.

Keep her in your thoughts and prayers.

Michael Main

Nancy Jennings writes:

Nancy left this as a comment, however, to make sure you have an opportunity to see it, I am reposting it here.

As a side comment, an Ark. Democrat reporter talked with me and I gave him Nancy's number. He called back later and left a message "Nancy sure is a character". I had given him a headsup. I would have loved to have heard that conversation.

Here's Nancy's comments:

George was my husband,and we were married for 45 years. I have been an observer of the radio biz during all that time. Did any of you ever realize how many newsperson I met and fed over the years. George always called us the last of the white collar migrantory workers. When we were engaged the year of 1960-1961, I was at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Tx, my sweet husband was broadcasting at WRR in Dallas and he would sign off with Sinatra version of "Nancy with the Smiling Face". I bet you never knew what a romantic person he was. I was always surprised at his inventiveness to keep me guessing. One cold day in Arkansas, I walked into the house and my piano was covered with daffodils, just what I needed after a hard day at work. I knew Spring was near.

We raised two fine boys together, and they turned out to be very nice people. I don't know how I would make it now without my Dean. Dean is my spacecadet who is a computer nerd. He lives in Boise, Id. after 10 years of creative nagging, he finally gave me a granddaughter called Genevieve. She called George "Grumps" and she calls me

Most of all, I remember our "children" that George trained and raised. I always told him I would never work for him, so I don't understand how any of you worked for or with him. He just about drove me crazy. He worked 14 hours a day, and he let me do my own thing. I was never burden with pushing him in his career, he did that himself. All I had to do was raise the boys, and keep house, and make him good food. He loved my cooking. I had a few fans outside the immediate family, AJ and Jim, didn't I make a mean dish of Spaghetti and meatballs.

George and I have had many adventures and were never afraid of the future. God always seem to take care of us. We've had money and we've been broke, such is life.

Someday, before I get too old, I would like to sit down with a bunch of you people, and you entain me with your "war" stories. You gave George great joy and headaches over the years, but he always bragged how good each and everyone became. He was sooooo proud of all of you. I think he taught you backbone and to never be afraid. Go for it kids, there still a lot of spark in all of you. Also know, George is f#%(&ing laughing his ass off at you all now that he's in heaven and you're not.

Love Nancy

Publish this comment.

More more more!

Everyone who encountered George Jennings has at least one story. I am so impressed by the people who will take the time to write and share their comments.

The following is a link to a blog with a Geo. J. Story:

Saturday, March 17, 2007

More Geo.J

George hired me at WOAI in 1985, and taught me much. He was indeed a formidable man, and I owe him my career.

He will be missed.

Michael Main
Managing Editor/Clear Channel San Antonio

More Jennings Remembered

I am receiving several comments that post under various stories. I don't want anyone to miss these comments, therefore I am also posting them as individual stories like:

So many stories. Too many to choose just one about a friend and fellow broadcaster I admired greatly.

The majority of 22 years at WOAI were spent having the time of my life with George. It was is he. A broadcaster and newsman for the ages.

George, no one could or will ever hit the net like you.

Johnny Marks

Friday, March 16, 2007

More George J. Remembered

Please be sure and read the "comment" posted at the end of the the Treadway remembered.

Jim Pitcock sent the following:

George Jennings and I began a lifelong friendship in 1962, shortly after KAAY began broadcasting what was to become one of the most memorable radio stations and formats in the country.

He was part of the original gang and his contribution to the success of the station was huge. He loved the business and was always willing to go the extra mile. George was the only Arkansas radio newsman on the scene, when riots broke out on the campus of Ole Miss, in 1962. He reported from Oxford, Mississippi for several days - many of those reports were picked up by the national networks. Job offers came in from around the country, but he said he wanted to stay at 10-9-0.

George was a friend and mentor. I can remember many afternoons during the summer of '63 when A.J. and I would join George and Nancy on the side porch of their home on Beechwood, in Hillcrest and talk about the business - whether it was our latest scoop and how bad we were beating KAJI, or why couldn't we go full-time music and drop the early evening "special" programming - a sore spot for most of the staff.

George left KAAY after we had worked together for about six months. He came back, but by then I had left too.
But I'll always remember that voice - "This is George J. Jennings, at your service."

George was back in Little Rock many years later for the Presidential campaign. We got together and have talked on the phone a couple of times since. We always reminisced about those glory days at "Big K'' and what a grand time it was.

George Jennings remembered by David Treadway

Dad GUM! I have just now gotten the news that George
Jennings is dead. My idols are mortal after all and I
do NOT like that! How fitting that this mighty man was
taken, like Caesar, on the Ides of March, for he was
the only human I ever met who could explain (at GREAT
length) why the 15th of any month was not necessarily
the Ides. Just another reason to wish that I had paid
more attention to George Jennings!

There has only been one other man who came close to
scaring me on first sight as bad as Pat Walsh did, and
that was George Jennings.

I was 6’ 4” on March 8, 1971, when I got my audition
at KAAY. I met him in the newsroom and I remember
having to look UP to him--literally. Surely, he wasn’t
THAT tall, but that’s the way I still see him: a regal
and imposing presence.

George taught me more about a newscast in five minutes
than I had learned in the previous two years. “It
doesn’t matter if a story is local or national or
world or whatever,” he fairly barked at me. “You start
with the most important one first. Then, you move down
to the second most important and so on. Ya GOT that,
kid?” It was more of a command than a question and it
seemed to me at the moment that you did NOT admit to
George Jennings that you didn’t understand what he was
telling you. He was about to throw your uppity young
butt into the deep end of the pool and you would swim
if you knew what was good for you.

I would soon find, from reading his First Class
Radiotelephone Operator’s Certificate (back when you
actually had to KNOW something about Radio to be on
the air), that he was a fellow Aquarius, born on
February 1. We had a birthday in common, something
that SOMEHOW made me admire him all the more. Dang,
but I wanted to SOUND like George and THUNDER the News
into that big spongy-looking Electro-Voice 667 mike
that hung over the Gates Stereo Statesman console in
the newsroom at 1425 West 7th Street. I did my best to
copy him.

There’s no telling how high his IQ was. He could
probably do all the parts of Hamlet from memory,
although I never did press him about it. One thing for
sure: he was smart as a handful of whips about Radio.
He could start a feud with Sonny Martin using no more
than six words--and people would Tune 1090 by the
thousands just to hear what those two would get up to
next. (Sonny, do you KNOW what a Magnificent Bastard
you were working with?)

In early April of 1985, I had the idea of getting as
many of the original KAAY airstaff as possible back
together for the last broadcast day before the station
got sold to the Christians. I could get almost
everybody but George. When I called WOAI, they told me
he was out covering a story. How fitting that was.
Sonny laughed when I told him.

I utterly HATE it that it took George a long time to
die, but it’s SO fitting that the Grim Reaper had to
work to get him! We will not see the likes of him

Rock ON, Jennings!!! Fly free forever and tell Johnny
Cash I said hey.

With great love and admiration from the snot-nosed
Arkie Pup that you helped to raise.

Slight correction to story below

In 1963 George was on his first tour of duty at KAAY. He was headed for Dallas on vacation when the first news of the Kennedy assisination broke. George continued to Dallas and fed hours of reports back to KAAY. He did work at WFAA but that was after the second tour at KAAY.

More on Jennings from WOAI website

Veteran San Antonio Newsman Jennings Dies

Worked at WOAI for twenty years
By Jim Forsyth
Friday, March 16, 2007

Veteran San Antonio newsman George Jennings has died following a lengthy battle with renal failure. He was 67.

Jennings worked at 1200 WOAI news and News 4 WOAI for twenty years, retiring in 1999. He was also a prominent fixture as a master of ceremonies and presenter at numerous local events.

George was a native of Kosse Texas, in Limestone County. He worked for fifteen years as morning host and program director at KAAY-AM in Little Rock Arkansas. He also worked at WFAA in Dallas, where he covered the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy.

Friends say Jennings had suffered from kidney failure for some time, and had recently been moved into Vitas Hospice on Fredericksburg Road. He died at the hospice last night.

George is survived by his wife Nancy, and his son Dean. A second son preceded George in death.

Funeral services are incomplete.

George Jennings Passes

George Walter Jennings a/k/a George J. Jennings passed away 3/15/05 at 4:58 P.M. in San Antonio, Texas.