"And one more thing, Frank."
"Get all the money you can."
That was in my game plan. Currie said he had to hang up and do his annual Manny Sanguillen interview.
After WBZ and I could not, as they say, "come to terms," I figured that I had reached a premature end as a surefire TV star. But now for the bad news. A couple of months later I got a call from a guy named Lee Hanna at WNBC-TV in New York. When Hanna called, I was sitting in my office in the Time & Life Building, which is catty-cornered, maybe 50 yards as the pigeon flies, from his office at NBC. Hanna explained he was looking for a sports reporter on the six o'clock news and had heard some real swell things about me from an Ellay television station.
I said I don't know from nothing about an Ellay station.
He said they had an audition tape of me but had rejected me for the job because I wanted too much money. I was such a greedy sonuvabitch. I said, since they never asked me how much I wanted, how could they turn me down on that basis? He said, well they had, and since I was a dead duck out there, would I be interested in the job at WNBC?
It is instructive, I think, to summarize here how the talent-scout program at WNBC works. Several months before, I had appeared live on WNBC from that very building across the street. I was seen by a man in Boston, who recommended me to Ellay, who recommended me to New York, where I started in the first place. Maybe it will not surprise you, then, to learn that WNBC is a very sickly competitor in the six o'clock news ratings in New York. Carl Stokes, the former mayor of Cleveland, was the anchorman at the time. WNBC is so low in the news ratings I think it has minus ratings. Just to stir things up, you would think that WNBC would deliver sports in Sanskrit or by semaphore. Anything.
Apparently, though, WNBC is handling the situation by toughing it out. When I came for my audition, Lee Hanna had forgotten to notify anyone about the appointment—including his own secretary, including himself, as a matter of fact—and various people accused me of being a liar, an impostor and things of that nature.
Finally, Lee Hanna told me to go do my audition, and he would call the next day. A week later he called. The conversation went like this: