One of my most distinguished characters
Tuesday, June 11, 2013 10:00 PM
Dick Munro stopped by the office last week. He was all excited about his latest project - a movie that will be produced here in Crawfordsville.
Sometimes I think I see Dick more now than when I worked for him. Not really, but it's a good line and Dick is always entertained by a good line.
You probably know Dick as the radio ad salesman who dabbled in news or as the morning radio personality who dabbled in current events on his Community Focus program. When we talked about multiple Community Focus programs, he always called them Community "Foci" (plural of Focus, I guess.)
I think the thing I will always remember about Dick is his penchant for new ideas. In fact, he has a business called "Good Ideas."
When I worked for him at WCVL, I could always tell when we were having a good or bad month in advertising by the number of ads written on the program schedule.
If we got to the 15th or 20th of the month and I had just one or two ads in news and there weren't many ads elsewhere on the pages, I knew we were headed toward a bad month.
But then, invariably, Dick would swoop in with a good idea to give his sales staff and by golly we would end up doing well for the month. As someone who has worked in advertising and in news, I can tell you that is nothing short of amazing some days.
Over the years I worked for him, Dick and I developed a friendship. They say that shouldn't happen between a supervisor and an employee and I agree. There have been many times that employees took advantage of their supervisors because of friendship and it hurt the company. Eventually, it hurt the supervisor and employee, too. But that line was never blurred between Dick and me.
I could always count on once a week hearing "FRANK!" Dick's office was next to mine and I wanted to respond by walking into his office and say, "You bellowed?"
He had some news story he wanted me to cover. Later I found out the sales staff would use news to divert Dick's attention from their sales performance and his bellow always came on the heels of the weekly sales meeting.
One day, he called me into his office without bellowing. Then he shut the door.
Immediately, I began thinking where I could find my next job. But he was not disciplining or firing me. He just wanted to talk. He wanted a sounding board and he knew I could keep his confidence.
That was the day I knew we had become friends, though he never said so.
We had a few more conferences like that over the years. I would listen, ask questions to help him clarify his thinking and then immediately forget what we discussed.
Years after I left the radio station, I got an e-mail from Dick saying he was writing a book and would I help edit it? We had stayed in touch over the years but when Munro asked me to help with a book he was writing, I was flattered beyond measure.
By that time I had been a newspaper editor in Brazil for a few years but I still couldn't believe Munro wanted my help.
A few years later I went to work for the Number 2 newspaper in Crawfordsville.
A couple years after that, I was thinking about leaving Number 2 and coming to work for The Paper of Montgomery County. I asked Dick's advice. He helped me think it through and the rest is my personal history.
As I said, Dick still stops by from time to time and we visit (though that won't happen nearly as often since I am following his career path in sales.)
I look in the mirror and I look at him. Wow, we're older than when we first met in 1977. But I treasure our relationship.
Frank Phillips has worked for The Number One newspaper in Montgomery County since 2010. He has observed and written about Central Indiana since 1994 and has written professionally since 1971.