Sports Talk Empire Builder
From playboy to Playboy Club proprietor. From reluctant car dealer to banker and rental car mogul. He’s moved with the makers and shakers of the KC business world, yet few outside Kansas City business circles ever heard of Jerry Green until he spearheaded a move to buy the Royals. Although that effort didn’t succeed, it is credited for kicking the selling process into high gear and bringing Green the fruits of a lifelong passion — getting a solid foothold in the world of media.
A few years after purchasing a tiny, daytime-only AM radio station, KCTE 1510, Green has parlayed that media property into the largest all-sports radio station in the country, WHB 810. Attracting talent through his loose-rein management philosophy, Green’s station is one of fun, controversy, passion, and risk-taking while challenging the corporate giants of the world, such as Entercom and the Chiefs. In short, WHB is a reflection of its maverick owner, and Jerry Green is having the time of his life.
Not your usual banker
Green’s office at Union Bank, which he owns, isn’t the stereotypical banker’s haven — a cold, sparsely decorated room of intimidation, populated by a gray-haired stiff in a thousand-dollar suit. The Green image is different. He’s likely to be sitting behind his desk sporting casual slacks and a nice T-shirt. Looking younger than his 69 years, thanks to a trim physique and a neat toupee, Green isn’t worried about impressing anybody except himself. Money is no longer a status symbol, but a way to afford such things as good cigars and his cherished Ferrari. His sons by his first marriage — Donald Atha, who lives in Arizona, and Alan Atha, a local architect — and Green’s stepson, Justin Orendorff, in retail sales in Chicago, are all on their own and out of the house, leaving Green to enjoy life with his second wife, Betsy.
The pictures on his office wall are snapshots of his life, pointing to why Green doesn’t fit into a nice, neat box of those easily recognizable traits attached to most businessmen. There’s a photo of Green as a child with his parents in front of a ’38 Ford from his father’s Kansas City car dealership. Another photo presents Green with his graduating class of 1952 at Yale. Another photo is of Betsy and Princess Diana. There’s Sylvester Stallone posing with one of Green’s sons, and there’s a photo of Green with George Bush and Alexander Haig. Eye-catching is the autographed portrait of Ted Kennedy.
“Ted Kennedy came to town to dedicate the Martin Luther King Hospital sometime in the late ’60s,” Green says. “I got a call asking if I’d like to have a houseguest. They said it was Ted Kennedy and that he’d hurt himself in a plane accident and needed to swim. (Green’s house had a pool.) If it rained, he wasn’t supposed to come.
“I woke up and it was raining. Then I got a call saying he would be here in an hour and a half. I woke up my wife and she tried to clean the house. He came and was very nice. First thing, he called Bess Truman, (then) swam. The house was a mess and he came in saying, ‘I’m wet, can I walk through? My mom would be pretty upset if she knew I was doing this.’ He was very nice.”
Green counts as his friends Republicans and Democrats, and he likes both President Clinton and Missouri U.S. Sen. John Ashcroft. His political connections can address Green’s weariness with the dogma he sees in politics and the media these days.
“I talked to John Ashcroft and gave him some money,” says Green. “I told him we didn’t want Clinton impeached, we were all sick of it. (U.S. Rep.) Henry Hyde became a fool. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day. There’s all this anti-everything, guys like (Rep.) Tom Delay, Jerry Falwell, and worse, Pat Robertson.”
An easy life gets a little less easy
Life wasn’t too hard for Green when he was growing up: high school at Pembroke Hill, carefree summers, and a liberal arts degree from Yale with nary a business course on his transcript. But two events brought change to Green: going into military service, where money no longer meant status, and the death of his father while Green was stationed in Korea.
“I went through basic training, which makes you grow up,” says Green. “Nobody cares if you went to Yale. I liked the Air Force; everybody knew what you made and there was no economic status — it was all by rank.
“My dad died while I was in Korea, and the guys were wonderful. They packed my bags for me. When something bad happens, they really rally around you. As an only child, I got a hardship discharge and came home to take over the car business.”
Green found himself the youngest car dealer in America and having to straighten out problems that had begun to plague the business. That meant having the awkward responsibility of being a 25-year-old getting rid of “dead weight” by firing people, some of whom had been with the business for years. It was that or face the possibility of Detroit’s stopping new-car shipments.
“I’ve had a lot of adversity, and I’m getting a little old for it,” says Green. “It’s part of life, and I’ve seen some of the people face it that you’d least expect (would), while other macho people go to pieces. My mother (well-known philanthropist Selma Green Feld) was a strong woman, and she always told me I could do better. I’m no smarter than anybody else, but I did what I had to do.
“If I were to teach a class someday, it would be (about) facing adversity. It’s one of the strongest qualities you can have. I’ve had so much; I’ve had a Chevy agency burn to the ground. I rebuilt it. I thrived on adversity.”
There were other businesses — Playboy clubs in Florida and a Budget rental car franchise, in which Green is still involved. But in 1969, Green got out of the car dealership business. Set financially, he was too young to do nothing; that’s where his stepfather came in.
A future to bank on
At the urging of his stepfather, Milton Feld, Green started Indian Springs Bank in 1970, which he sold seven years later. Then he bought Stadium Bank and the Civic Plaza Bank downtown, among others. Green involved other investors, including the Kroh brothers, real estate high-fliers of the time. When that company went broke in the late 1980s, it was again time for adversity for Green.
“They left me holding the bag,” says Green. “I borrowed the limit at every bank. To this day I still have debt. Frank Morgan saved my ass.”
Green’s bailout loan from the late Kansas City banker and financier Frank Morgan put Green back on his financial feet. Since then his banks, now under the umbrella of Union Bank and with assets of nearly $200 million, are doing quite well.
Always lurking in the background was the allure of something more glamorous than banking. When Green talked of others in the business world, the names of such broadcast empire builders as Ted Turner and Bill Paley would come up. Green was a moth moving toward a flame when it came to media. The best man at both of his weddings was Jerry Mayer, a friend from St. Louis who managed to make a career in Hollywood, becoming a writer for such popular shows as Newhart and Who’s the Boss?
Green found himself in the public eye when he made his move to buy the Royals. Part of his motivation was his feeling that the Royals management was prolonging the team’s sale process. For weeks there was speculation Green was fronting for a high roller. Finally, the name Jeffrey Loria surfaced, a wealthy New York art dealer.
“The Royals knew the guy qualified, even though I kept his name out of it at first,” Green says. “The Royals’ (president) Mike Hermann said I was a phony, but he knew better. I didn’t have the money, but (Loria) did. I got a lot of attention. Later, I explained who (he) was and went public. The guy bought the Montreal Expos and that vindicated me. I would have represented the owner. Mike Hermann was awful; he didn’t want to sell. But I think the right guy (David Glass) got it.”
The Royals bid elevated Green’s profile. People became familiar with his name. He’d come out of Barnes and Noble and someone would recognize him and say hello. He had local celebrity status for the first time and found himself enjoying it. Crediting Green with jump-starting the Royals sale process became part of local baseball lore.
The Royals deal became history, but Green was left with a passion unfulfilled: radio.
“When growing up, my father had a shortwave Hallicrafters radio. We got stations all over the country — WGN, KGO,” remembers Green. “I always had a big interest in radio. Media fascinates me. I watch CNN, listen to talk shows. I’m an addict. I love it. I get mad at it.”
With that passion came the desire to be involved.
“I’m getting older and I want to enjoy what I’m doing. I had a house in Arizona, just to get away. Here were captains of industry, retired, sitting around the pool talking about how they bought beans at Safeway 3 cents cheaper than at Alpha Beta (a grocery store). These men were once vital and important, and they had been reduced to pettiness, sitting around, playing golf, and talking about the old days. The big thing was where they were going to eat that night. I try to avoid that, but I don’t want to hang around a pool in Scottsdale, Arizona.”
When KCTE 1510 went up for sale, Green got involved with Jim MacDonald, publisher of KMBZ’s Kansas City Sports, in negotiating for the station. KCTE 1510 was a fledgling, weak stepsister to its FM counterpart, 107.3. The owner of the AM “stick” (frequency) was Gary Acker, who managed remotely from Springfield, Missouri.
“I got ahold of Chad Boeger — we have the same birthday, by the way,” says Green. “At the time, Duke Frye and Kevin Kietzman were rival bidders, and I said, ‘Why don’t we work together?’ (Boeger, Frye, and Kietzman work in local radio.) They said they wouldn’t work with Jim MacDonald. I said, ‘Jim MacDonald doesn’t bring anything to the table. I want you.’ We went to court; I won.”
MacDonald sued Boeger and Green for breach of contract and, technically, the verdict was in MacDonald’s favor. He received slightly more than $16,000. Both sides claimed victory. The jury awarded the money to MacDonald for leading Green toward the purchase of KCTE but found nothing to show that Boeger had interfered with a contract between MacDonald and Green, which MacDonald had claimed.
After buying KCTE in 1997, Green began investing in youth and talent. Green is most comfortable when surrounded by young, passionate people in an informal environment. Green made on-air personalities Boeger and Kietzman part-owners of the station, along with former Royals players Jeff Montgomery and Brian McRae. Frye became vice president of operations. Green’s team had free rein to begin building a big-brand sports talk nameplate.
“If you get talent, you get ratings,” says Green. “If you get ratings, you get advertisers. I learned from the head of a motion picture company who once provided a Gulf Stream jet for Barbra Streisand’s dog. You treat your talent well. Everybody there is under 35 except me. I read a lot of books about it, the Warners, Ted Turner. I’ve always found that if work can’t be fun, then what are you spending your life doing? Radio business is fun.”
A tough beginning
The odds were against the station from the beginning. “We had no support from former owner Gary Acker,” says Boeger. “We had old equipment. Our board blew up and took us off the air, but then we started building some momentum. We persuaded Kevin Kietzman to give it a try, and he came on three times a week. We started getting more attention and our ratings started to increase.”
Kietzman had achieved the sports media dream. Working his way up from small markets in Joplin, Missouri, and Pittsburg, Kansas, Kietzman became an on-air personality in a major market. Then he jumped to little-known KCTE.
“Jerry Green is fearless and competitive,” Kietzman says. “That’s the reason I got into the thing. I was in a stagnant corporate environment for 10 years at (WDAF) Channel 4. This was an opportunity to latch with an owner that’s fearless, competitive, high quality, who wanted to win at all costs. That’s what it’s all about. Jerry’s always been like that. He’s competitive and wants to do well, but he’s also compassionate. It’s amazing the number of business associates he has. I’ve still never run into one who’s said anything bad (about him).”
For a TV sports anchor who got only a few minutes a day, in a tight corporate environment, the opportunity to expound on subjects with practically no time limit and without worries about management intervention was too lucrative for Kietzman to pass up.
According to Kietzman and Boeger, it’s Green’s leadership and lack of ties to bureaucracy that add up to success. “We always thought, ‘Put something good on the air and everything else will follow,'” says Kietzman. “Corporate radio doesn’t work like that. They want to know what they can do overnight. They want sales, promotions, but they don’t think about what the listeners want. Jerry said that talent is everything. Get the right people in there and get the right stuff on the air. In this day and age in radio that’s unheard of.”
KCTE began to make a dent in the p.m. ratings war against the formidable Don Fortune show on KMBZ 980. This happened despite KCTE’s operating with poor equipment, a weak signal, and having to go off the air at dusk — a real problem in the winter when commuters were driving home from work.
“We were limited at 1510,” says Kietzman. “Maybe that’s the most amazing part of the story. We’ve grown so much since we’ve gotten the big signal. (The move to WHB 810 was in the fall of 1999.) We were daytime only. Our transmitter burned and knocked us off the air. Horrible facilities, yet people latched on. Sometimes we sounded like amateur college radio, but people identified with our struggles. We never guessed we’d get to this level so fast, but that goes back to Jerry and his fearlessness. He wants to win and have the best sports radio station in America. Other people try to compete with us. They analyze it and try to put something up against us. It doesn’t work like that.”
Talk with Green’s employees and you’ll soon get sick of the words “love,” “family,” “fun,” and “Green’s a great guy.” He visits the station frequently, hangs out with the staff, jokes with them, parties with them, and lets them run the show. Yet the businessman in him keeps an eye on the ratings and a soft hand on the action. It’s a formula that’s succeeding beyond his wildest expectations.
Sharing the wealth
KCTE started to chip away at its prime competition, the Don Fortune show on KMBZ 980, owned by Entercom, despite the other station’s big corporate resources. Entercom, based in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, is the fourth-largest radio broadcasting company in the United States in gross revenues, with 60 FM and 36 AM stations under its umbrella nationwide, bringing in over $70 million in net revenue in the first quarter of this year alone. Entercom’s local holdings include KMBZ 980, WDAF 610, KKGM 1250, KUDL 98.1, and KYYS 99.7.
KCTE gained more ratings ground when the station made its first national splash in the sports world. Tired of a world in major league baseball where the small market team had no chance to compete with such teams as the Yankees and the Braves, the station sponsored an event during a Royals home stand with the Yankees, where the fans left en masse during the game, wearing “Share the Wealth” T-shirts. The phrase points to major league baseball’s lack of revenue sharing, which, unlike pro football, causes small market teams like the Royals to be revenue poor when it comes to purchasing top baseball talent. The walkout received widespread national media coverage. Most give Kietzman credit for the Share the Wealth idea, but he claims the idea was inspired by the station’s listeners.
“This has happened only in one place,” says Kietzman. “The fans here are brilliant and they understand sports. That was the watershed moment for us. The fans came out and said, `You’re right.’ We had a team without an owner and a league without a mandate. When they did that (the walkout), I was so proud that this was my hometown. It was national. I did 40 different radio interviews that week. We try to make people think that if they don’t tune in for a couple of minutes every day, they might miss something.
“The main competition made fun of us and said baseball didn’t need revenue sharing. That was a mistake. This would have never happened at a big corporate radio station. They would think how they could make money, but that wasn’t what it was about for us. I have a 10-year-old son, and I want him to enjoy baseball and have hope at the beginning of the year that the team can compete.”
The promotion was not a media stunt to grab advertisers. “We had no logos and no sponsors,” says Vice President of Marketing John Karpinski. “It wasn’t about the station. That’s why we don’t have a nickname or moniker for the station. Our slogan is ‘Powered by Fans.’ It’s very simple.”
Taking the big plunge
KCTE’s ratings continued to grow, then Green took a risk that now looks brilliant but at the time drew loads of criticism. He bought WHB 810 in the fall of 1999, intending to switch KCTE programming to that frequency while leasing out the 1510 frequency. Practically overnight, tiny KCTE 1510 became WHB 810, “Powered by Sports Fans” but also powered by 50,000 watts in the daytime and 5,000 at night. Already the third-largest AM station in America, now WHB was the largest all-sports format station in the country. Green paid a hefty sum for the station, and people were standing in line ready to custom fit him for a straitjacket.
“People thought I was crazy for paying $8 million for WHB,” says Green. “I’d paid less than a million for KCTE. Any stick is worth a million. Those people didn’t know the deal. It was payable over a long period and there was property we could sell. But it was a lot of money for an AM station.”
“When we bought KCTE, it was a great opportunity,” says Boeger. “At that point, we didn’t know how fast it would go. We knew we’d have to make the next step and get 24 hours and a stronger signal. We had very preliminary talks with Mike Carter, and it worked out.”
Carter, of the Carter broadcasting family, paid less than $700,000 for WHB in 1993 and had no problems selling it to Green and his fellow investors for more than 10 times that amount. The deal was lucrative for Green’s group as well. Now listeners who used to strain to hear KCTE in south Kansas City could hear WHB clearly in the daytime in Joplin; Manhattan, Kansas; even Omaha and Des Moines. With the sale and programming switch, WHB started mixing hard journalism with crazy, fun events such as iguana races and live broadcasts every Friday afternoon from Hooters. For the testosterone-charged sports fan, it was the perfect formula.
Entercom-owned KMBZ 980 continued to lose ratings points and brought on Soren Petro, former partner with sports talk personality Pete Enich and fresh from a stint with sports radio in Las Vegas. Earlier, Entercom had negotiations to join Fortune with Kansas City Star sports columnist Jason Whitlock, but Whitlock took on morning co-host honors with Chad Boeger at WHB for less money.
In search of Kietzman and `Big Sexy’
Boeger, all of age 27, handles the duties of president and GM of WHB, in addition to being on-air from 6 to 9 a.m. with Whitlock on AM Mayhem. How did WHB attract the popular Whitlock, who was heavily courted by Entercom?
“Jason was talking with Entercom,” says Boeger. “We were friends from before and he used to come on the show once a week. Jason finally decided that he couldn’t join Entercom, although they offered more money. He said he wanted to join the right team.”
WHB had its guy from the newspaper to complement the guy it already had from TV, Kietzman. “Kevin’s brought such enthusiasm to the station,” says Boeger. “Entercom tried to hire Kevin away several times, and he’s turned down more money to stay with us. It’s different working for yourselves. We all work quite a bit, but we love what we do. It’s a great feeling.”
Whitlock and Kietzman indeed are not the only WHB employees Entercom has sought. “All the people at WHB have been approached by Entercom,” says Green. “There isn’t anybody at the station that Entercom hasn’t tried to hire for more money. Kietzman, all of them. I gave them a piece of the station, and they’re not working for a conglomerate where they might be transferred to Pittsburgh tomorrow. Here we just get together. We’re the little guys at a big station.”
Entercom’s program manager, Bill White, chose not to comment.
In an effort to compete, Entercom bought KKGM 1250, making it an all-sports format, and brought on Star sports columnist Joe Posnanski as a host. But that didn’t last long, and 1250 has yet to register more than a blip on the Arbitron ratings.
In the meantime, WHB’s ratings continued to grow, and the station again was first to break a national story, this time the criminal charges against Kansas City Chiefs stars Tamarick Vanover and Bam Morris, accused of drug dealing and car theft. Neither player is still with the Chiefs.
“We like to break stories,” says Kietzman. “We broke the Vanover and Morris story, and people know that. We tell you things as they happen, and the Vanover story is not over yet. There have been 19 people working on this for two years. They’re looking all around the league now.”
Competition has gotten so intense that KMBZ recently planned an event that revolved around a giveaway of Royals general admission tickets. WHB countered by giving away WHB T-shirts to those who showed station personnel the tickets.
“That was such a below-the-belt, blatant rip-off of what we do,” Kietzman says of the ticket giveaway. “There was no way we could ignore it. Maybe they gained from us giving attention to it, but it’s not like listeners don’t know that program exists. They listen to our show for a reason and they aren’t going to leave. The competition isn’t going to rip us off. They’re going to have to come up with their own stuff.”
Not all fun
One unplanned media event concerned former Kansas City Star columnist Greg Hall early in his short stint as evening co-host at KCTE. Hall parodied Chiefs broadcaster Bill Grigsby as a drunk.
Feeling that Hall had stepped over the line, the station suspended him. He returned to the air but refused to apologize. That refusal lead to Hall’s firing, the only termination that has taken place under Green’s ownership.
Hall then went on to accuse Green of being a drunk on his Web site (www.sportswaves.com). Green denies the accusation but admits to occasionally taking a drink of vodka and to receiving a DUI conviction.
“Greg Hall broke policy a couple of times. We thought it was the right thing to do for our company to go in a different direction,” says Boeger.
Kietzman adds that in two years, the station has had only two employees leave: Hall and another who went on to work in a family business. “It had nothing to do with his ability on the air,” Kietzman says of Hall, “but he violated policy repeatedly.”
The Hall incident got Green more press, but not the kind he liked. “Greg Hall got on the Internet after I fired him and said awful things,” says Green. “He said I was a slobbering drunk, that I threw up on myself, that I got a DUI, which I did. He hit all of us pretty hard, said we played around on our wives.
“What I did — we went to a ballgame and I had a small bottle of vodka. I had to go to a funeral later and I had one drink and changed clothes. Hall said I was a slobbering drunk, had the biggest bottle of vodka he’d ever seen, and I was a known drunk. He took terrible shots at Bill Grigsby, who’s still upset. Hall wouldn’t apologize, and he went too far.”
Speaking about his firing, Hall says, “I don’t think I was treated fairly, but life isn’t fair. I enjoyed my time there and met some fantastic people. Now it’s time to move on.”
Hall’s Web site, a combination sports commentary and media watchdog, is stoking the fires of competition between KMBZ and WHB. Statements on the Web site claim that Whitlock would like nothing better than to take over Fortune’s spot at KMBZ and take on Kietzman head-to-head. At his best, Hall is provocative and entertaining. However, he gives no forum to those who disagree or take issue with his opinions.
WHB’s relationship with the Chiefs, most notably Chiefs president Carl Peterson, is, at times, rocky. Most refer to Peterson as “King Carl” and criticize the fact that the Chiefs are in the 12th year of Peterson’s “five-year plan” yet have never reached the Super Bowl, even missing the playoffs three out of the past four years.
“Peterson was out of work at the USFL and would have done anything to get back in the NFL,” says Kietzman. “Twelve years later, we are still treading water. He needs to make a move, make something happen.”
It goes further than that. Some at the station point fingers at Peterson, claiming he meddles with the media and attempts to control it. “Peterson tried to get me fired at Channel 4,” says Kietzman. “He’s tried to get many people fired in the media. He has more dealings with the management of media outlets than any other NFL CEO, president, or coach.
“I was scared at Channel 4, but I’ve got cover now. We are the one media outlet in town that he has no influence on, and I’m sure that frustrates him. His policy is, no, you can’t go interview on 810. He feels his only influence is keeping (coach) Gunther Cunningham off the show, but that doesn’t hurt the ratings. I’ve been there. We have an open forum at WHB, and our fans love it. We’re not gonna hide behind anything.”
Peterson was in Europe during the writing of this article, but Chiefs PR director Bob Moore responded to Kietzman’s charge that Peterson tried to get Kietzman fired by saying, “That’s completely and totally false.”
Green says Peterson has called to complain about the station. Most of the time Green refers complaints to Boeger, but he does listen to them and will state his opinion if he thinks things have gone too far.
“Carl would call or I’d see him in public, and I tell him, ‘You have players that produce for you … well, these guys are producing for me,'” Green says. “I think they have been pretty tough on Carl. I mention it, but I don’t control my employees. It’s not my way of life. But I realize shock radio is here.
“I’m of a different generation. Carl complains that there’s too much negative, but that’s part of TV and radio these days. If I think they go over the line, I’ll tell them about it but won’t do much more unless the ratings go down.”
“I’ve never had a problem with Carl or Gunther, or anyone with the Chiefs,” says Boeger. “We have a great relationship with a number of players and the same with Kevin and Jason. I think it’s personal between Jason and Carl, and sometimes it gets in the way, the way Carl looks at the entire station. Before Jason, we had a fantastic relationship with Gunther. We broke the story that Gunther got the head-coaching job. Once we hired Jason, things changed.”
The addition of Whitlock, who refers to himself as “Big Sexy” on the show, brings the attraction, but also the ego.
“No disrespect to Jason at all, because he brings a lot to us, but he can’t do a radio show by himself,” says Kietzman. “It’s impossible. He needs somebody to drive, and he knows it. If he didn’t, he’d be jumping up and down saying, ‘I don’t need anybody else in here.’ He hasn’t done that.”
While Green doesn’t mind the controversy, he doesn’t like throwing opinions out as if they are fact. “I say, if you’ve got documentation, go with it,” says Green.
“A perfect example is the Bob Sundvold situation at UMKC, and Steve Eck. When Whitlock accused Eck of being a backstabber, I said, ‘You don’t know. You better be right.’ Steve Eck called me and said it wasn’t true. With the Vanover and Morris story, we had facts, papers. If you have an opinion, state it as such.”
The Royals again
Green is back negotiating with the Royals, this time again taking on giant Entercom. KMBZ is the current station for Royals broadcasts, but the contract is up this year and WHB has submitted a proposal to take over the broadcast rights. An announcement could come soon, likely before the July Major League Baseball All-Star break.
“Once again, Entercom is the Goliath,” says Green. “They are huge. But I think our pitch to the Royals is wonderful. I think they love us, but Entercom is Entercom. It would be a brave decision to go with us. They have all the money in the world, but we have all the desire. Small guy against the big guy. I hope they relate to us.”
So just how does WHB 810 stack up against its competition?
In a recent Arbitron ratings release, Kietzman’s p.m. show boasted an 11.3 share in the 18 to 34 male audience. Fortune and Petro? 2.2. Kietzman’s Between the Lines show also dominates the market for 18 to 49 and 25 to 54. This kind of success is rare among single-owned stations.
“You look down the lists of who owns stations in major markets, and we’re one of the few independents with high wattage, a low place on the dial, and high ratings,” says Green. He also has that diehard praise.
“I saw the tides changing,” says John Kizer, formerly in sales at KMBZ but now at WHB. “You don’t have to report to people in corporate. There’s not meetings, and meetings about meetings. Here, they care about programming instead of money. There’s been a lot of turnover at KMBZ. They’ve been going down ever since they went public. And Jerry Green is a great guy. He’s just having fun, and that rubs off on everyone else.”
Green shows no signs of slowing down. Talk to him today and you won’t hear a bunch of nostalgia over the good ol’ days. Green likes to surround himself with youth, and he’s sticking with WHB, although he’s already been approached to sell, at a profit, of course.
“We do things together and don’t mind sharing,” he says. “I won’t allow office politics; I hate that. I’ve had backstabbing happen to me, and life is too short.
“There were a bunch of us at a dinner in Las Vegas and they had me get up and speak. I said I’ve had car dealerships, Playboy clubs, banks, restaurants, but this is the most rewarding, wonderful thing that’s ever happened to me.”
Green is financially secure. All that’s left for him now is to follow his passions and have a good time. Whether it be taking his radio staff to Las Vegas for the weekend, lighting up a foot-long cigar, or tooling around in his 1998 Ferrari 550 (the only one in town), Green’s doing it because he wants to. And while the Dilbert-ized corporate radio behemoths continue to worry about things like dress codes and vacation schedules, Green prefers to give his staff a stake in the business, to trust in youth and talent, and to form a management team from on-the-air personalities who may not know how to read a spreadsheet but know a hell of a lot about how to make entertaining radio.
In the meantime, everybody’s having a good time, and it’s paying off in ratings for WHB. For Jerry Green, that’s what it’s all about.Jerry Green is not your usual coat and tie radio station mogul. He loves to have fun, be independent — and kick corporate radio where it hurts.