Back in the late 1970s, a young man from Hastings, Minn., joined the on-air staff at the local radio station I managed. He had wanted to work with us a year earlier, but his former boss in Marshfield threatened him with legal action if he violated a non-compete agreement with the station.
So he got a job elsewhere and joined us a year later.
Judges often threw out such cases – especially in small markets like Stevens Point and Marshfield. In many of the cases, the agreements were one-sided – benefitting the station but not the DJ, even though management claimed they were mutually beneficial – a requirement for non-competes.
We were fortunate to have the young man on our staff. He was a clean-cut, ambitious fellow, and little did we know at the time that he was on a fast track to success in the broadcast world. The ladies in the office swooned over him.
I speak of Jeff Rowe, who used the on-air name “Dallas Cole.” We all called him “Dallas” and to this day, I have trouble addressing him as “Jeff.”
Jeff was (and still is) a perpetual motion machine. I can’t visualize him sitting still. But his talent, respect for others and pleasant demeanor made him a joy to have on our staff. He was the kind of young man you’d be proud to have as a son. I give him credit for a good part of success the radio station enjoyed in those glory days.
During his time with us, Jeff was looking to the future, developing plans and ideas that would serve him well. His drive and foresight helped propel him into several coveted positions.
When he left us, he programmed and managed WKTI in Milwaukee and then WLS in Chicago. The door to television opened for him and he became head of programming at VH1 in New York. There he reshaped the programming and music, and among other things, hired Rosie O’Donnell. While at VH1, the network’s cable subscriber base doubled to 36 million, and sales increased seven-fold. (VH1 is now part of the MTV networks.)