Pat O'Neill's Blog

Posts from May 2013

Reminiscing About Magic

Magic’s accounting department just prepared a $1000.00 check for a contest winner, and as I signed a staff greeting card it occurred to me that Magic 98’s large promotional budget has always been the exception in broadcasting.

We’ve actually lost track of how much “Magic Money” has been awarded since the contest began in 1984, but it’s north of $300,000.00.  We’ve had many “Birthday Game” winners of $10,000.00.  We once hired a Brinks guard to help deliver $9800.00 to a listener on “Take Your Radio to Work Day.”  I recall a “Millionaire for a Day” that won an overnight stay at New York’s Waldorf Astoria before attending a Barbra Streisand concert.”  When the P.T. Cruiser was the hottest new car and couldn’t be kept in stock, Magic spent over $20,000.00 to get one for a contest.

Still, I have not forgotten my early days in radio.  My starting wage was $2.10 per hour.  The General Manager gave me a raise to $2.30 and said “Good job, there’ll be more where that came from.” Later I realized minimum wage had risen by 20 cents.  The station owner once decided the studio needed a new clock, but rather than buy one he walked into the drug store next door and offered them 10 commercials for one.  That’s where the old broadcasting phrase “A dollar a holler” comes from.

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Locations: New York

Goodbye, "Donuts"
Bob Bonner has no idea that his “radio character” is based on another Wisconsin broadcaster, Michael Wegner of Osceola.

Wegner was known as Michael J. “Donuts” Douglas on Twin Cities station KSTP-FM.  His title was “morning newsman,” but his colorful, genuine, sometimes cranky asides with on-air partner Chuck Knapp are what made the show, and helped make the station #1 in the 1980s. He retired from radio years ago and died last week.

When I was 23 and working the all-night show there I had a chance to watch the chemistry develop between Knapp, city boy in khakis and quarterback of the show, and Douglas, farm boy in Levis and coffee stained shirt, with his “aw, what the hell” approach to radio.

I wanted to host my own morning show someday, and I always thought it would be great to find someone like “Donuts” to cast as the Oscar to my Felix.  (Hey, you gotta be honest with yourself).

Five years into the Magic 98 morning show the opportunity to work with Bob presented itself.  I could feel the chemistry right away.

“Donuts” was an original, always himself. Knapp said last week that Michael was the best he ever worked with.

His passing makes me appreciate Bob a little more than usual.
He’s also an original  - and the best I’ve ever worked with.

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