My comments to this weeks story in Dallas Observer…The Sad Saga of Greg Williams Gets … Even Sadder
By Richie Whitt, Wednesday, Mar. 10 2010 (JCW comments in red)
On Monday I mentioned that I hadn’t heard from Greg Williams in a while. Well, lo and behold, Hammer rang yesterday afternoon in an attempt to tell his side of the story in the fizzled radio pairing with John Clay Wolfe.
What did I hear? Greggo was angry. Downtrodden on the verge of desperation. And, oh yeah, defiant.
“If you don’t think I’m clean here’s what I’ll do,” Williams offers. “I’ll take a drug test seven days a week, at my expense. And I’ll have the results emailed directly to you. You can publicize them anytime you want.” Who cares about your drug test results? Get to work and stop talking about drug tests.
Wolfe – the latest sucker (see Big Dick Dunter and ESPN) to try and help Williams (who won’t help himself) resurrect what once was one of Dallas radio’s brightest careers – didn’t demand daily tests. Just daily consistency.
A radio entrepreneur with a popular auto show heard Saturday mornings on 97.1 The Eagle, Wolfe approached Williams last winter with an idea to re-launch his career via an afternoon drive-time show on a small, syndicated cluster of stations. In the end, the experiment lasted exactly nine days. Actually, I approached Greg about moving to Wichita Falls to be the main talent on my 1230AM ESPN sports talker. After getting to know him during these discussions, I saw more than I bargained for, saw a larger opporunity. We spent 6 weeks together discussing this opporunity, planning, mapping, staging, talking to consultants, etc. This was no half baked idea, but I must have been baked to think the person I was talking to was going to follow through.
In a he said/he said that resulted in The Show not going on the air as planned March 1, Wolfe says that during the first two weeks of a supposed 60-day trial period Williams missed one day of work, arrived late on another and ultimately quit after one segment of a Friday show to take a job building boat docks for $10 an hour. Williams counters that Wolfe wanted him to work for free, exploited his fame and ultimately didn’t deliver on a promise to attract station affiliates to the proposed show. The 60 days was not a trial as much as I said “Greg, I need you on the air for 60 days to get the pump primed, get people excited, get you marketable again. Are you willing to do 60 days free to prove to them and me that you are serious.? His reply was an immediate “absolutly, no problem, thank you for the opportunity, I’ve always said ‘the first person that gives me another chance is going to make a fortune, and you’re that guy'” Having been behind the 8 ball of life myself from a career high, to the bottom of the ladder (paralyzed, divorced, then broke) , I respected the guys willingness to comeback.
“Working with him is not an option,” says Williams. “This guy was just attaching himself to me, trying to get attention for his little specialty show. I’m angry, and I’m tired of it.” See above
Says Wolfe, “I’m done with this deal. I was patient. I tried. I was foolish and naive to think he was going to deliver consistency with my encouragement, when he had let so many others down before.” That’s very correct, all in all this, story is dead on. Richie did a great job with his accuracy and brining together the facts. I have had so many emails inquiring on more details, I decided to comment on this story a bit. Greggo threw this ordeal into the public eye by 1) standing up his fans, and the sidekick contestants, with a no show March 1st and 2) when he literally emailed the Dallas Observer a private email between he and I discussing the terms of our deal.
The final disconnect: Wolfe offered to pay Williams $24,000 a year; Greggo demanded $104,000. I told Greg, I am not going to finance the start up phase of this partnership in luxury-excessive comp, based on his past actions.
Along with the absence, almost absence and abrupt departure, Wolfe says that while driving from Granbury to Fort Worth during the two-week trial run in December Greggo wrecked one truck and ruined another by putting regular gas into the diesel tank.
“I gave him two cars, $1,000 running around money and asked him to be consistent for 60 days,” Wolfe says. “But almost immediately I started seeing the signs that he was going to flake out.”
Says Williams, “I did wreck a fender. But I didn’t put the wrong gas in there. I just didn’t do it.” It doesnt even matter, the bigger picture is what I was here for all along.
But even after the troubling trial, Wolfe didn’t give up on his experiment.
“It was high-risk poker with him,” Wolfe admits, “but the reward could be huge.” Bigger than Dallas (no pun 🙂
Wolfe stubbornly set a March 1 launch date while building a permanent studio in Fort Worth, hatched an American Idol-type audition for Greggo’s permanent sidekick (says Williams, “I never wanted to be a part of tryout deal. That’s amateurish.”), and crafted a ridiculously stringent term sheet as the precursor to a contract. That’s bullshit, I have emails from him saying that we should try and hire the sports reporter chick gal from another major DFW FM country station that sent in audition tape. He had a strong vibe towards her, talked about it 4-5 times.
On February 26 Wolfe met with Williams and girlfriend Jennifer Rosenbaum to go over the deal: Jennifer and Greg re-introduced her to me as ‘his new manager <remeber I’ve been spending full days with Gregg for months, now I go through his ‘girlfriend?”, she went onto schooling me, on business 101. I was arguing back, life-reality 101, the conversation just got down right silly. I said “I’m done, good day…Gregg if you wish to continue this conversation, come see me when you can speak for yourself and are ready to back up your agreements” I also told him “if you have another opportunity like this, may I suggest that you handle it yourself, and not have your girlfriend as a mouthpiece becuase she blew this for you, and only you are going to fix you”
*$2,000 a month, a car/SUV with insurance and 33% of the net profit of the show. Two-year contract.
*Williams would work the weekday afternoon show and co-host Wolfe’s Saturday morning program.
*In year one, no vacation days or sick days, the latter resulting in a payroll deduction of three days’ pay.
*Any doctor’s excuse must be approved by a physican of Wolfe’s choosing.
*Monthly drug tests, with a failed test resulting in Williams paying Wolfe $10,000.
Wolfe calls the offer “tough love.” Williams considers it insanity. I sent this email on Feb 9th, after he had missed, quit to build docks, wrecked a truck, been very flakey. My tone and harshness was intended to make him get serious, and understand he wasn’t going to bullshit me any longer. I also proposed a company apartment, and a ‘handler’ to get him to work if need be. I honestly believed that if we could get just a few months of consistent sucess behind us, then he would fully see the opportunity I was seeing…basically get the pump primed.
“He says I backed out of some deal, but I never agreed to it in the first place,” says Williams. “Why would I take a job making less than I did as a part-timer for WBAP in 1988?” bullshit
During the contentious meeting it became clear that, while Wolfe sees the need for Williams to re-establish his credibility through humility, Greggo isn’t ready to backtrack to ground zero via re-paying his dues. And this was a NEW tone and position with Greg, he came in ‘coached’ I assume it was his new manager (girlfriend) loading his lips bc she wants a check. All along, he was ‘I started at the bottom before, this time will go much quicker’ and ‘just get me on the air, I don’t care how small the station, the Ticket was a dog when we started and now it bills 50mm a year’ and ‘John you know business, I know radio, you get me on the air, that’s your job…you get this done, and I’m fixing to show you a trick, this is going to be better than you ever thought’…and I still believe every word of it, if he’d just get off his ass, stop talking about it, and do it….he has the capacity, no doubt.
“I needed him to be consistent for six months before I could start selling him to program directors,” Wolfe says. “I asked to let me take him to the point where he could be a star again. But he and his girlfriend want the big deal now. They still think he is a star.” Truth be known, I think he’s a star too, if he’ll just go to work and stop living in la la land.
Asked about the $104,000 figure, Greggo says “It’s what I’m worth.” He is worth it, but not in Wichita Falls. He could put up triple that day one in DFW if a station REALLY trusted him. He has to earn the trust back, and that’s what we set out to do, but I wasn’t going to pay him 10k a month until he proved it.
My conversation with Williams was lucid, poignant, but also a bit contradictory. At one point Hammer was explaining how he was still a six-figure talent; the next detailing the financial stress that leads him to consider a manual, blue-collar job building boat docks. The whole boat dock thing was typical Greggo bullshit. He was just using that as a ‘John I’m not doing this for free for 60 days as we agreed, but I’ll do it for a base rate….that’s where the 2000 plus a car a month came from.
“I need the money … I’m almost in squalor,” he says. “I’m at the point of selling off assets.” If you spend more than you bring in, it puts you in a squalor, everytime. Get to work, make it happen.
I get the feeling Wolfe would still work with Williams within the terms of the proposed contract, but Hammer clearly sees it as another Dallas radio opportunity gone awry. If I trusted it, no doubt. I don’t know what he could do to get me to trust him right now. Obviously, I wanted it more than he did. I’m no sports talker, never claimed to be. I cannot do it without him, or someone like him.
“I want to be on the radio again, sure,” Williams says. “But at this point I know the odds of me doing it in this town are stacked against me.” That’s bullshit too. Rush Limbaugh had the entire country against him, now he’s the highest paid and listened to man in the industry. It’s dressed in overalls and looks like work, either do it, or stop your belly achin.
On a positive note, since this is more than likely the end of my Greggo ordeal, I’d like to thank Greg for teaching me many tools of the trade. I’ve been on air for 3.5 years ((mostly saturdays)), self taught, no formal training whatsoever. The two weeks I spent co-hosting with Greg, and two months prior spending time showing him the wholesale car biz, opened my eyes to numorous radio techniques and methods that I was unaware of, and I will use what he taught me for years to come. Our deal was I was going to teach him the wholesale car biz and he was goign to teach me talk radio tricks. I want Gregg to do well, get it back together and finish his project of putting humpty dumpty back together again. Wishing someone well is insinsere comment, I hope he reads this, all the terrible comments on the observer, and decides to prove it untrue. If he does that, then he won’t need well wishes.–JCFW