The Day a Piece of Fun 107 Died
One of the toughest days in Fun 107 history happened one year ago today. We were dealing with the loss of not one, but two Fun 107 legends.
Together, the partnership of Gail Leblanc and JR Reitz brought Fun 107 to an entirely new level in the mid to late 1990s. Fun 107 signed on the air more than 30 years ago, back in March of 1989. While the excitement was high for the baby version of Fun 107, experience about how to run a Top 40 FM station was a little deficient. The few remaining staff members that still work here remember that it was the people on the AM side of things, WBSM, that sort of ran the show. WBSM was the cash cow, and Fun 107 was a baby deer trying to find its legs.
Four years later, when JR showed up on the scene, he immediately began to piece together his vision of what Fun 107 was to become. He brought along a New York radio friend named Kookinbocker, then added a young ABC6 personality named Sharon Fogaren to the morning crew. JR hired an up-and-coming Boston radio diva named Christine Fox to become his music director and to host afternoons.
These hires by JR each became a major part of the Fun 107 story. I'd like to say that success came quickly, but it didn't. It took several years for the new, younger airstaff to come into its own and start building ratings and revenue, but when it finally hit, it hit hard.
What was the turning point? A major factor was Gail Leblanc. Our leading sales person was bumped up to Sales Manager, then a couple of years later got the big office as General Manager. I've worked with a lot of amazing salespeople over the years, and this is meant as no disrespect to any of them, but Gail Leblanc was among the very best. Her uncanny ability to close a sale was nothing short of stunning. With Gail, it didn't matter if they wanted to buy Fun 107 or not, they just were – and that was that. She started selling Fun 107 at an incredible pace. We couldn't play as many commercials as she was selling, and that's a great problem to have when you are running a radio station.
While both JR and Gail had eventually stepped away from their high-pressure management jobs, both were tremendous resources to our radio stations when they died on the same exact day last year. We lost an incredible amount of institutional knowledge that day. And two people we truly loved.
Personally, losing JR as a mentor is something I feel almost every single day. I can't tell you how many times over the past year I've wanted to ask his advice about a management problem I might be having. Many times, I'd be excited about new jingles or a new member of the airstaff. I'd go to call JR to play audio for him, then I'd remember.
JR and Gail both represent the true grit that brought Fun 107 from a brand-new little Fairhaven station to one of the most successful Top 40 radio stations in America.
We are all reaping the benefits of their hard work. I hope they know how much we appreciate it.