Here's what Mel has to say about his time in Pittsburgh...
"At KQV, every fun promotion or contest had to be approved by the ABC Continuity Acceptance Dept. and Legal Dept. in New York City. Ah, for pity sakes ! For example, I had come up with a promotion called "Send Me Mine." We ran it in Chicago with fabulous success. I planned go on the air with it at KQV. The idea was to make announcements over the air saying: Announcer: "Have you got yours? If you haven't received yours, send a postcard with your name and address to KQV saying, "Send Me Mine!" We'll send you 'yours' immediately. 'Yours' will be waterproof, completely portable, adjustable in size, and will come in a beautiful decorator color. 'Yours' will have exclusive numbers printed on the side that could win you cash from KQV! Write Send Me Mine, KQV, Pittsburgh."
The idea was to never tell what 'Yours' was. Our 'Yours,' was a small pastel balloon with KQV and a contest number printed on it. The deal was to call out the number on the air and the person with the right number on his or her balloon would win $14.10. It was a fun gag from a fun loving radio station. In Chicago, we saw our balloons everywhere.
Well, ABC New York said we had to 'tell' the audience exactly 'what' they would receive. We must tell them that they'd receive a 'nice, small balloon, worth 1/10 of 1 cent.' Aw, for cryin' out loud! There goes the fun, the mystique, the mystery, the giggle, and now, its just another stupid, unimaginative radio contest.
Well, I put it on the air my way. We sent out over 20,000 balloons in a two week period and it was a super successful promotion, just like it was in Chicago. ABC New York was perplexed at such disobedience from a brash young Program Director. Then again, KQV had never experienced such a tremendous response from any of their earlier promotions, so no one slapped my hands.
To keep the mystique and fun going, we recorded the winner's voices over the phone saying, "Hi, this is (name). I got mine, did you get yours? Mine's candy apple red (or whatever) and I keep it under my pillow (or where ever). I won $14,10 from Colorful KQV." People loved to hear themselves on the radio. The DJs at KQV during my time were Jim Gearhart, Henry Dabecco, Dave Scott, Larry Aiken, Jim MacLaughlin and me. Good guys, all.
KDKA, the big 50,000 watt Westinghouse rocker was our main competition in Pittsburgh. The KDKA DJs I remember were Rege Cordic and Clark Race. Rege was an institution in Pittsburgh and did a super-funny morning show. Clark, who also did a TV dance show, was a glib professional and worthy competitor. Rege moved to Hollywood years later and I hired him for voice work on a couple of TV commercials I produced and directed, through my company, Cinira Corp.
Once, we pulled off a sneak attack on KDKA. We had a new KQV jingle package produced in New York City. The 'Colorful KQV' package. I had the music company compose and record a full length instrumental song based on the 'melody notes' of our new musical logo, 'Colorful KQV, The Pulse of Pittsburgh.' Before we started playing the new jingle package on KQV, I talked record promoters Nick Censi and Jack Hakim into taking the record we had made of our new jingles logo over to KDKA.. They didn't promote it, they just dropped it off along with some other new releases.
Low and behold, KDKA thought it was a great instrumental. They put the record on the air and played it for two weeks! Then.... we put the new KQV jingles on the air. "What!!? KDKA has been playing the logo melody of KQV's new jingles!? We giggled over that for a month.
I recall another neat thing that happened at KQV. Ray Charles had just come out with a new, 33 1/3 LP album with Ray singing the country hits. Ray Charles was just coming off another great song called Hit The Road, Jack! So, Larry Aiken, our Music Director/DJ put Ray's album on the air as the 'KQV, Pick Album of the Week.' However, there was only one song in the album that the DJs picked to play.
The station got hundreds of phone calls from people wanting us to play the song again, and again. They'd always ask where they could buy the record. Well, they couldn't buy an individual 'single' record of the song, they had to buy the album. We let the people know at ABC Paramount, the record company, and informed them about our tremendous audience reaction.. They decided to release the song on a 45 rpm single, nationwide. The song became Ray Charles' biggest hit. It stayed #1 on KQV for six weeks. The song was, I Can't Stop Lovin' You.
The people at KQV were great! Especially, the General Manager, John Gibbs."