The voice in the morning of gila101.9FM belongs to Bill Taylor, the irascible, irreverent, station owner who has made the jingle “Keepin’ you in the Know” a household word in the Globe Miami region.
Taylor, who wears many hats as owner, disc jockey, salesman and chief bottle-washer of the station, is the familiar voice on the morning show between 6am -9am of Globe-Miami’s hugely popular radio station – gila101.9FM. Every morning Monday thru Friday he entertains, educates and confounds his audience with local news and politics and his own unique take on both.
As a radio broadcaster, Taylor has had a long and colorful career in the industry which included stints in L.A., Miami Florida New Orleans, Baltimore, Charlotte, Orlando., and was recognized by Hee Haw when the show began spotlighting radio personalities across the country in the 70’s. He was the innovator of a syndicated broadcasting casting system similar to 8-tracks which ensured the integrity of recording no matter how many times the song was played . When he came to Globe, he brought over 3000 cartridges which grew to 5000 before switching to CDs and computers. At a time when the other stations frequently played scratched records, Taylors’ station was a marked improvement. His biggest success was a bingo type promotion played with music instead of numbers, went through 32 million cards in three countries. This was the initial funding for the station.
We caught up with Taylor during one of this morning shows…
GMT: What brought you to Globe?
Bill: I was working in L.A. I knew the job had no future as I was getting too old to be a rock Jock and I didn’t want to look for another job in L.A. Radio. It wasn’t easy getting there, plus, I do things that get me canned. I’d worked for The General Manager at KIQQ, at 3 other stations and he’d fired me before. If I wanted to do things my way I knew I’d better have my own station. I was also doing syndicated promotions.
I looked for places with a vacant channel to build a station, as it costs less than buying one. I’d filed in other locations and lost out.
That’s when my consultant said he knew of a place that was so ugly, nobody would file on top of me, but he suggested I go look at it to see if I could hack it.
I flew to Phoenix, rented a car, came to Globe and heard the worst radio I’d heard in years. The stations would play scratchy records, sometimes at the wrong speed.
I thought to myself, if I can’t be a winner in this market, I’m really bad. Easier said as I soon learned Willard was tough! Took years to beat him. He always made more money, ran more commercials. It’s just that fewer people heard them. I’d started on the air in radio in a small South Carolina mill town so I knew what it was like in a one economy town where there was only one major employer. No different than when the mines shut down.
I remember how the kids felt – that there was nothing to listen to on Sunday mornings with all the preachers. So,I made up my mind, if I ever had my own station, we’d play music on Sunday morning.
The exception to this is that we recently picked up the Mormon Choir 5:30-6am when KIKO AM dumped them.
GMT: What was the reason behind changing the call letters to Gila 101.9
Bill: While at KIQQ in Los Angeles, KIIS “Kiss FM” constantly beat us, and I liked the moniker. It was catchy. However, the name did not relate to the community and when I had a chance to change when we moved on the dial, I took it. There are now Kiss FM’s all over the place. There’s one in Phoenix. Now we are “The Gila County Station” Monster Hits…Gila1019. People can relate. After 20 years we will always be KISS FM to most of our listeners. And at times we still say it on the air. The Rating services still give us credit if someone responds by saying Kiss FM.
GMT: You get in trouble sometimes for the things you say on the air. Tell us about that.
Bill: This is a good ole boy town and I ain’t one of them. So there are people who don’t like me. I’m not here to be liked. I’m here to make people think. In every major market, the most popular air personality is also the most disliked. A good example is Howard Stern. Sometimes I get a good laugh. Like the time someone stole a car from Ellsworth Motors and I said it had to be an inside job … as only an employee would know which one ran!
Yes he called (Ellsworth) so I followed that with the story when a truck rolled out of McDonald’s and hit a vehicle on his lot.
My comment was, “ lucky there was an eye witness so they could tell which one was hit.“
I’ve said things that have made advertisers cancel, but freedom has it’s price. I’ve watched things being swept under the rug and thought, “where the Hell is the Silver Belt!” So we’d blow a whistle. My favorite was Judge Carol Nichols in 1994. One of her employees alerted the state as to problems and the state shut the court down. In the process they found a mess that made Patty Nolan look pure as the driven show. We were the only media that covered it. The only time she was mentioned in the Silver Belt was when she ran for re-election and that was in a campaign ad paid for by members of the Gila County Sheriff’s office. I’m very proud of our support of Gary Geotteman which contributed to his election to Southern Gila County J.P. Judge. This will be an honest well run court.
I think one of my best bits was the Family Business’ contest where the idea was to name the most people who were related that worked for the county.
GMT: You’ve given quite a bit back to the community
Bill: Even when times were tight I’ve always tried to financially support local projects. The Lord calls it seed money. I got some decent dollars for moving on the dial to 101.9 so that 98.3 could cover the Valley. It gave me the opportunity to do more.
I brought in The Wall (a reproduction of The Wall in Washington DC) during the Gila County Fair. And then things most people don’t even know about…like the giant TV, X-Box Guitar Hero at the Boys and Girls Club and the gas range at the Safe Home. Plus the station helps pay for the light parade every year, paid to paint a Miami fire truck, paid for the security system at the Miami Library, help Audrey with her monthly power bill. Every year little league. This year paid for Santa at the Miami Small Town Christmas.. It goes on. We don’t turn our community work into a station promotion as then we’re not giving we’re advertising. . So most folks have no idea how much cash we pour back into the community. A greater percentage of advertising dollars on KQSS stay in our community.
If I went on people would think I was bragging. It’s mostly behind the scenes and many I help don’t know where it came from. It feels good to be an anonymous giver. There is constant fund raising and being quiet allows me to pick my projects. This is my home. The Lord blessed me by plunking me down in Globe Miami, Thank you Jesus. . If I die and go broke on the same day, it will have timed out.
GMT: You have a style all your own. How would you describe it?
Bill: One on One. This is me. If you don’t like it, turn the knob. I’ve always been sarcastic, irreverent, and enjoy that kind of humor. How can you look at Washington, DC and not think that most are slimy bastards. Poor Miami is a Banana Republic. Globe fought progress but had money in the bank, Now the new crowd owes plenty. The county doesn’t know how many vehicles it owns or who has them. Just when you think they’ve reached a peak, they do something even dumber. I do wish we could do live programming all day long. Play requests. We have a huge library. But since Wal Mart killed Broad Street there’s not enough retail biz left to cover the cost. So we’re on the hard drive. However, if there’s a major news story we break in. We’re the only station with Generators in case of an emergency. That’s an investment that may save a life.
GMT: What do you like most about your work?
What I like most is my freedom to try new things. I don’t have a New York Corporate office squeezing every dollar out of this town, telling me I can’t do something. We run fewer commercials because they get better results. There’s .Finding lost dogs, Playing special requests, feeling good when I know I’ve touched someone. Our Leader said. When you do it for the least of them, you’ve done it for me. . ..A lesson that took most of my life to learn.
Talking with Bill, I couldn’t help but remember what he had said earlier about a cardinal sin of broadcasting. “It’s a sin to be boring,”
Amen, to that.
Writer, photographer. Passionate foodie, lover of good books and storytelling. Lives in Globe. Plays in the historic district. Travels when possible.