After organizing his own station, Rayburn “was so proud of that initiative, that I organized every station in town. I moved on and eventually ended up at WNEW in New York where the base pay was very high by my standards: $45 a week. But we also got commercial fees: eight cents a spot. If you did 100 spots a week, you’d end up with $53!”
After WWII, Rayburn returned to WNEW, became shop steward and worked with the New York Local to improve the situation. It wasn’t easy. The station manager at the time was tough and had a temper. “It was not unusual to hear her screams, directed at Local AFRA Executive Ken Groot, echo through the office corridors. Ken sat calmly, a slight smile on his face, repeating his demands. Progress was slow. Over a period of years, we got up to $65 a week and 12-cents a spot! Our biggest problem was that the unit wanted to fold every time they heard the station manager scream.
“At WNEW we were paid every Friday, so late each Friday morning our wives would gather on the sidewalk in front of 501 Madison Avenue and wait for us to come down from the 14th floor and give them our paychecks. Most of them had spent their last nickel on the subway to get there. It sounds difficult and it was. But remember, we were young. Our youthful enthusiasm enabled us to gloss over the economic difficulties. We enjoyed each other’s companionship, we socialized and laughed a lot. But most of all, we loved our work, said Rayburn.
Gene Drops A Stich
Bill Diehl (WNEW1967-1971/ABC1971- ) noticed aclip from “The Match Game” (CBS) that featured a photo of Gene Rayburn from his Rayburn and Finch days on WNEW and which figured in an evidenciary finding by panelist Richard Dawson that the photo proved Gene had misstated the facts about his history as a knitter.
Gene Rayburn hosted a live afternoon New York version of “The Match Game” (NBC)from 1962 to 1969 and the CBS day-time revival from 1973 to 1978. He also hosted the CBS nighttime version from 1975-to 1978.