The City by the Bay

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With each passing month, our computerized traffic system was working more and more smoothly. With some help from me and our computer software company, Vickie and Carolyn did a great job of making that operation function.

Our Corporate managers in New York were taking notice of all this because in San Francisco trouble was brewing. Our TV station there, KPIX, had installed a computerized traffic system, using a company in Tennessee to provide all the software, with disastrous results. Despite a large traffic department staff, KPIX was making a huge number of scheduling errors. The lost revenue amounted to $750,000 a year. Even worse, some major advertisers had threatened to stop using KPIX altogether because of all the mistakes.

Group W needed someone to troubleshoot the problem and get it fixed. I got the assignment. I left L.A. and on July 15, 1972, I arrived in San Francisco to see what I could do.

It was a sorry mess. There were fifteen dispirited, demoralized men and women in the department working hard but frequently at cross-purposes. They all worked in the same huge room but half of them reported to the Sales Manager --- the other half, for no good reason, reported to a different department head. And none of them was being paid for the overtime hours they worked because they were afraid to ask for it.

I met with all fifteen the day I got to the station. First, I told them that effective immediately, they all had a new boss ... me! And, secondly, I told them one thing had to stop. As their new supervisor, no one would be allowed to work overtime ---- WITHOUT BEING PAID FOR IT! Then I adjourned the meeting and sent everyone back to their jobs. That didn't fix the problem, of course, but it surely was a good start. Morale skyrocketed.

Geneva and I sold our house in the L.A. area and the family moved to Walnut Creek. Chris and Mike began the year at a nearby elementary school. It appeared we were going to be in the Bay Area for a long while.

At work, I settled in to the task at hand. Slowly, at first, but then more quickly our workers learned an important lesson. Costly mistakes could be prevented by talking with each other as they went about the job of putting commercial orders into the computerized system. It wasn't a bad system, it was just being badly used.

Five months after I walked in the door, we achieved a milestone ... our department had lost only $2,000 in a whole month because of scheduling errors. From $750,000 to a projected loss of $24,000-a year. It wasn't going to get much better than that! I knew it and the Company knew it, too. They were making noises about moving me into other management jobs in New York or elsewhere. That was a career path I was not eager to follow.

I was looking back at KFWB and an intriguing chance to get back behind a microphone and out of management for good.