At 8:08pm on the evening of August 8, 1991, the Jay Marvin Show began on 970 WFLA, a much more powerful station compared to WEND here in Tampa. A rival station would not the kindest way to put it: we were in no way, shape, or form any competition to the area’s talk radio giant, nor were we designed to.
The show that night was designed to be a hit piece on Liberty Lobby and their ties to groups who believed that the Holocaust either never happened or its existence was overblown. They had Richard Benton, the recently fired SRN affiliate relations director, and journeyman talk host Jack Ellery on to blast the group. Defending Liberty Lobby was Vince Ryan, who was a host for one of SRN’s shows, Editors Roundtable, one of two shows the group had on the network. The other was Tom Valentine’s Radio Free America.
Asking Vince Ryan to defend SRN was like asking a Republican congressman from Tennessee about race relations in St. Petersburg. It was designed to produce a certain outcome. Vince was nervous and agitated, and Marvin and Ellery ripped him to shreds. When Mr. Ryan asked for specifics, Marvin often responded by asking Vince what difference would specifics make.
Did things change after WFLA’s hit piece? Well, yes and no. The network made a major change around that time, getting rid of Sonny Bloch’s show. In turn, Sonny went down Ulmerton Road just a bit and started his own network, Independent Broadcasters Network, taking Steve Wiegner with him, who was my boss at the time.
Meanwhile, I began doing the graveyard shift exclusively. I began doing graveyard six nights in a row, six hour shifts Monday to Thursday, eight hour shifts Friday and Saturday nights. Regardless of what Liberty Lobby was, they gave me a place to hone my craft, and their checks didn’t bounce. How I felt about their views on the Jewish faith didn’t have to be views I believed. I was never asked to wear brown shirts. The soda dispensers at SRN didn’t dispense steins of German beer, nor did the Muzak system play German music. I wanted to keep my job there, but in return, that meant not asking a lot of questions.
We continued to go through weekday and weekend hosts and board operators like crazy. North America One, Sun’s satellite outlet, did shows on their own independent from SRN. One of the hosts we had was a fellow out of Nevada named Art Bell, who went on to great success with his Coast To Coast AM show in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.
Then one night in late September of 1991, I came into work, and we had another host doing a show for North America One. And that’s how I got introduced to one Stanley T. Major. Major was doing some “dry runs” for NA1, or that’s how it turned out to be. I didn’t know it at the time, but Stan was a major player in the Miami and Ft. Lauderdale market, teaming up with Neil Rogers to produce beaucoup ratings for WINZ and WIOD. Everywhere Stan went, he produced a buzz, and SRN was thinking his hire would give the network the shot in the arm it needed.
Things didn’t get off to the start I hoped. The very first night he aired on the Sun Radio Network on October 1, 1991, we had a problem. If you listen to any radio show, there is usually music that accompanies it. For instance, if you listen to Alex Jones at the top of the hour, its usually the Imperial March from Star Wars, with a pre-recorded announcer introducing him. We had such an introduction for Stan, and we had what I thought was the corresponding cart. Only one problem: it was Stan’s old intro for North America One! The numbers to call in for the show were incorrect!
Stan’s first words on the air were something to the effect of: “Paul, you might want to rip the label off of the cart you just played, okay?” What I did have at my disposal was generic music intros and outros that could be used in such an emergency, and that’s what I used the rest of the night. It would turn out that Stan’s intro and outro music was locked in a production room, so even had I known that, I wouldn’t have been able to get to it.
(EDIT, 11/14/14: A couple of recordings of Stan’s show during this time frame recently went online, thanks to John Baker. One recording is from October 1st, 1991, and the other is from Thanksgiving morning of 1991, which was November 28th that year.)
The Stan Major Show began to get notice, and me along with it. I was the only board operator in Sun Radio Network history to be mentioned in a show promo, for instance. I became part of the show, much like Neil Rogers would eventually do with Jorge Rodriguez on WIOD and later WQAM in Miami. Stan tackled the issues of the days as they came up (the biggest early on was the Clarence Thomas nomination to the Supreme Court, and the complaints made by Anita Hill about him).
The key to Stan’s success was that he was allowed to control his own network commercials and the content on them. Most of the shows placed on SRN couldn’t control the content during network breaks, and that’s where Liberty Lobby usually ran a 60 second commercial or two that they controlled the purse strings of. It didn’t have to be a book about the Holocaust not existing or the Turner Diaries. It could be as something as simple as a health cure for snoring or male impotence. Stan could make a few phone calls and get nationwide businesses to advertise with him and make some money off of it. He’d sell Victor Borge videos (he gave me one as a Christmas present for 1991), various compact disc offers you’d normally see on TV. He also had a floor cleaning sponsor, Pine Plus.
The year of 1991 came to an end, and now 1992 had begun. Despite all the changes SRN went through, I had come out of the year improving my position and standing with the network, surviving my own faux pas, working hard to make Stan’s show sound smooth and flawless. Didn’t mean that always happened, but you had to roll with the punches and improvise. It turned out that 1992 would provide surprises of its own.