U.S. Radio (1961)

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WARD L QUAAL Executive vice president and general manager, WGN, Inc. Winner of the September Silver Mike Award Ward Quaal of WGN, Inc. has E enjoyed a distinguished and a distinguishing career iir the l)i< ud( ast field since he was 1G I years old — and that was 26 I years ago. For most of this time span, during which he has seen i adio and tv evolve, c hange and I coalesce into major media, he t has been contributing original thinking to the industry itself — thoughts which often transcend his immediate operations but which still have a hardhitting, day-to-day application. His current radio philosophy has new insight to theories which he has long held. His summary: "Radio's potential is limitless. It is the greatest mass communications medium yet devised, has all necessary ingredients to look forward to years of even greater strength. T hat is WGN's outlook and we see this on the horizon for the entire industry if management everywhere will address itself to implementation to the highest standards of programing, with service to the entire community and with strict adherence to the best operating principles." This is a year of crisis for broadcasters, but Ward Quaal for many years has acted with a sense of destiny and of community need as a station executive. Discussing advertising, he says "We must never forget that to compete with other major media radio must always have the support of the national advertiser. "A widening and strengthening of its rapport with national accounts and their agencies will manifest itself when the entire radio industry pursues the wise course outlined for it at the better (station) operations." Ward Quaal has matched and exceeded the great strides of the broadcast business since he entered it in 1935 as an announcer-writer at WDMJ Marquette, Mich., and proceeded to WJR Detroit for announcing work during his four years at the University of Mich igan, from which he was graduated with a degree in speech and radio. In those long-gone Blue network days, he was caught in the swirl of many a network origination. For the next two years he went to work for his present employer— WGN, Inc.— as an announcer, departing in 1943 for three years of duty as a Navy fleet communications officer. This combination of actual knowledge along with potential talents led to a post as special assistant to the general manager of WGN when he returned. He developed special programing (among them: a farm show and features developed by the station's first public affairs department). In this special capacity, he worked closely with clear channel broadcast matters and in 1949 he went to Washington as director of the Clear Channel Broadcasting Service. The management chinks fell completely into place and Ward Quaal went to Crosley Broadcasting Corp. in 1952 as assistant general manager, being named a v.p. the following year handling assignments usually pegged to an executive v.p. function and which crosscut all the Crosley properties. In '56, he returned to WGN, the station which had cropped up in his career over the past 20 years, having been named general manager. His responsibilities and positions have grown since, with the title of v.p. and director of the company added in 1957, that of executive v.p. and general manager last May. Earlier this year he was also named president of KDAL, Inc., in Duluth, a radio and tv company operating as a subsidiary of the Chicago corporation. The year at WGN has been a profitable one, says Quaal. By the end of the year, he anticipates a 10% sales improvement "over 1960, its previous recordbreaking year." Despite unpredictable business conditions, the sales gains have been made because of aggressive and creative selling as well as program improvement, in his opinion. As for the industry generally, he's "not as optimistic" as about the WGN figures because "the 'image' of radio is being harmed in many areas by the Johnny Come Latelys and Quick Capital Gains Boys." ■ 14 U. S. RADIO/September 1961