2 comments

  • Steven Smith

    I enjoyed seeing the photo of Jack Bankson, although I swear he looked older back then than in the photo in the 1978 paper (archived pix maybe). He had more responsibility with SRO than was indicated here. I am not sure he ever held the title officially, but by default maybe, he was acting head of the full SRO broadcast division which had multiple stations, including in large markets.

    I was in Bellingham at the SRO station, KBFW, and there was an apparently irreconcilable riff between me (operations manager) and a recently appointed station G.M. At most stations the GM would have canned me, but I had been there a long time and had friends in the corporate broadcast division. I called Jack Chunn, KZOK sales manager and former KBFW manager, and said one of us guys up in Bellingham has to go, and I talked about quitting to resolve the problem. Almost immediately, the SRO head office sent Jack Bankson to town.

    The station GM, Jack Bankson and I had a closed door meeting over the course of several hours, and I had no clue if I would be packing up my desk that day or not. Jack Bankson’s’ nickname as I recall was the “colonel,” attributed to his former military rank. And his demeanor was highly competent, decisive, no nonsense, and very military. At one point he asked me a question. I made the mistake of saying “I am not sure but I think such and such.” Bankson looked at me and said “Never again do I want to hear you answer one of my questions in that manner. In the future, if you know the answer then tell me. If you do not know, then tell me you don’t know, but that you will get the answer and get back to me as soon as possible.” He was the commanding officer!

    So after a few hours of back and forth behind a closed door, Jack Bankson looked squarely at the GM and said: “Steve has been with this company for a long time, he is the engineer, operations manager and PD. He has a good reputation with other management people who have worked with him. He is more valuable to SRO than you are as the GM. So, if need be to resolve this dispute between the two of you, I am prepared to fire you on the spot and put in an interim general manager. On the other hand, I think the both of you have good ideas, and I would like to see you try to work together.” The stunned GM turned red, stuttered and backed down. I was relieved and stunned myself by such blunt talk. I actually had sympathy for the embarrassed GM and agreed then and there that I was willing to give cooperation a try. Mr. Bankson left almost immediately and only came back one more time, just to visit and to see if we were getting along. The GM and I were sort of buddies by then, and Bankson’s process of information gathering and then making decisive management decicions was highly effective. I have never written up this story before, I have told it to a few friends. It was flattering to learn that the company would terminate the manager just to keep me.

    The rest of the story is that a few months later the GM took another job, Jack Bankson did not stay with SRO for very long. About 1982 I was promoted by SRO to be GM at KBFW. I bought the station from SRO in 1985 and sold it to SAGA communications in 1998. As an aside, one of my favorite ever Seattle jocks was Greg Aust at KVI and Jack Bankson was the GM at KVI during that time. He told me some hilarious stories about working with Aust, who was age-wise not really much more than a kid at that time.

  • pugetsound

    Thanks, Steven! And, if anyone needs a refresher on Greg Aust, hear some audio on the KVI Page http://www.pugetsound.media/kvi-audio/ I am always up for a few good stories, as I am sure many other readers are. Lay it on us, Steven!

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