Evil Yellow Empire
Competitors gleefully referred to us as The Evil Yellow Empire. VOCM was an AM monster in an FM world and its brand was seared into the hearts and minds of Newfoundlanders. I enlisted in the evil yellow empire on August 20th 1986 when I left Q-Radio on Duckworth Street and began a wonderful journey.
“The Skipper”, Joe Butler was a perfectionist, he’d cruise the hallways with a maintenance guy in tow, notepad in hand, writing down flaws or shortcomings that required attention. Skipper was a tall elegant man far younger than his certificate of birth indicated and he bore an air of superiority and confidence. He was aloof like James Bond but in a much better suit and I soon came to understand that shrewd men are often hated and feared.
In the fourteen years I worked for Joe Butler he never lied to me or cheated me or broke a promise. He is the greatest marketer I have ever encountered and I credit him with most of the success I’ve achieved in business! When the grapevine buzzed that OZ in partnership with Coke a Cola were bringing a promotional Boom Box to the province, Skipper paid a premium to a trailer manufacturer in the States to get him moved to the front of the production line. Then, when it was built, someone drove a Yellow and Red VOCM truck all the way to the factory in Minnesota and towed it back. He would own the next big thing in the minds of Newfoundlanders for years to come.
When it reached Clarenville, it was met by fifteen Yellow and Red station vehicles. They formed a convoy which drove the rest of the way to St. Johns doing live cut-ins on both radio stations every fifteen minutes telling listeners about The VOCM Super Roving Radio coming to market. It was a modern mobile studio but most importantly it was the first of its kind in Newfoundland. He had to be first because he knew that market leaders were almost always first.
Mr. Butler could even make the weather sound exciting and technically superior. Yes, Color Weather Radar had arrived in VOCM Valley. Imagine, he had the balls to name the whole neighborhood VOCM Valley! Then, he decided to reinvent how we kept time. VOCM World Atomic Time he called that one! Accurate to within a nanosecond! He also got an “Eye in the Sky”, situated atop a 100 foot tower right next to the Big Number One. I asked him once if he put the big number one on the lawn after he had the number one station or before he won in ratings. He spent $50,000 on a twenty foot time and temperature clock in the shape of a Yellow and Red #1 and then he made it happen.
Maybe his greatest accomplishment was establishing the VOCM Cares Foundation. The foundation has raised 10’s of millions of dollars for worthy causes in Newfoundland. It’s as if he found a way to wrap his brand in the Newfoundland flag. He made VOCM an iconic symbol of everything we cherished! Voice Of The Common Man.
He introduced dozens of promotional ideas over the years, far too many to chronicle here but the thing that made them successful wern’t the ideas themselves. Check out other ideas I learned during my time in VOCM Valley. http://www.explosivebusinesssolutions.com/
Ideas are a dime a dozen until you figure out how they can be monitized! That was his gift and no-one understood how to monitize an idea like the Skipper. The evil yellow empire prospered because of leadership, talent and creativity. He respected talent and he was smart enough to surround himself with the best people and then allow them to make mistakes. This meant you could operate without fear, making creative business decisions. Ideas that made money were golden at VOCM. If you could turn ideas into money you had a place on his roster.
He had to first and he had to be the best and if you could contribute to that outcome you had a bright future inside the evil yellow empire. Sometimes people would ask who does this or who does that at the station and the answer was always the same, “whoever can!”