On April 15th of this year I posted a blog about how MU Athletic Director, Dave Hart, Sr., canceled our existing radio contract and rebid. We lost to a St. Louis company, SNI, and were out for two years: ’78–’80. During the interval we began planning how we would retake MU when there was a rebid. Hart made it clear the winner would have to come up with lots of cash and a strong promotional plan. Hart liked the St. Louis guys: Jim Baaken, a kicker for the St. Louis Football Cardinals and Greg Maracek, a writer for the St. Louis Suburban Newspapers. The bid documents seemed slanted to favor them. For one thing, the successful bidder was required to name an official “flagship” station just like in ’78 when we lost. We all knew the power of KMOX, the “voice of St. Louis” and whoever named them as flagship was the likely winner. SNI had a verbal agreement from KMOX’s legendary manager, Robert Hyland, that SNI could use KMOX in their bid document. I suspected that whoever won the financial agreement could have Hyland’s KMOX.
The public bid opening was a hum-dinger. There we were in a tiny room before a bespecled purchasing clerk: SNI, and Learfield. The clerk opened and read SNI’s proposal and announced both their monetary bid and their flagship: KMOX. Ours was next. Like two years before, we’d put more money on the table than SNI, but this time, instead of naming a station that Hart didn’t want, we left the flagship question blank. It was either the clerk or Maracek who quickly asked about the flagship and I responded: “whoever the University chooses–most likely KMOX.” Maracek cried “foul’! He was both angry and dumbfounded. As soon as possible after the opening was concluded, I got Hyland on the telephone and reported: “Hey, Bob, we won; you and I…we just won the rights to the MU bidding! He was pleased. You see, Hyland didn’t care a hoot about who had the rights–all he wanted was to carry the games on his station.
Of all my professional career, this was the most exciting victory of any. The five-year deal was valued at just over Six Million; $1,200,000 in cash. Little did I know then, but this cemented what has become a continuous 27-year deal with MU. It likely was singularly responsible for our entry into the sports business. It would have been difficult for us to grow and prosper if we didn’t own the rights to the University of Missouri only 30 miles up the road; in our formative years, it was crucial. The picture above is the signing ceremony: me and Dave Hart.