LOWER THE VOLUME
While at WRKO in Boston, I had often heard rumors of a great promotion done a few years earlier while the station was still in the music mode. It was after Mel Phillips and the Legendary Now Radio 68/WRKO. At the time Jack Hobbs was GM and Les Garland was PD.
Garland wanted to celebrate the arrival of spring in Boston with a huge concert, but, back in the ’70s, radio stations didn’t do big shows. Garland had to convince city authorities that it was not going to be a rock concert, but, rather, “a day in the park” for maybe 30,000 listeners. It happened that the event went off on the most beautiful day of that year in Boston. Nearly 175,000 people jammed the Esplanade to hear the likes of Heart, Boston, J. Geils Band and others. Traffic was jammed. The nearby Red Sox game was disrupted. The promotion earned front page coverage in the next morning’s papers.
Well, every body tells the story a different way, but recently I spoke with Les and got the story from the horses mouth. (did I just call Les Garland a horse?)
Everything happened as stated in the Radio & Records article above, but during the show, the mayor of Boston showed up on scene very angry and demanded that the sound be turned down as it was disrupting the whole city, including the aforementioned Red Sox game. Garland was being watched like a hawk by his boss Paul Drew, as something obviously had to be done.
He explained to the mayor the sound was at a level to allow people way in back to hear. If they turned it down, there was a chance the stage would be rushed and no one wanted that! The mayor stuck firm and said it MUST be turned down now. Garland directed the politician over to the sound board operator and winked at the man on controls.
"Okay", Garland said, "I am going to start to bring the sound down and you tell me when it is at the right level." He then reached for a control which had no effect on volume and started to turn it down.
Alright?", Les asked the Mayor. "Bring it down more" the mayor shot back".
Turning the control more he asked again, Okay?"
"Perfect!", said the Mayor and he left a happy camper.
Paul Drew smiled, knowing what had just happened. The concert went on at the same volume, the mayor was happy, and Les Garland was on his way to becoming a radio superstar!