In appreciation with thanks to Johnny Andrews
The lessons learned in life often come somewhat after the fact. If only we knew then what we know now.
As a young man, I was blessed to develop a passion for sports and even more blessed to have parents and brothers and sisters who indulged my outrageous devotion to all sports, helping me live out my fantasies and dreams as an adult. For that, I will always be grateful.
With a career starting in the radio industry in 1977, it has been an even greater blessing to spend the last four decades in that medium, along with print and television entities.
Along the way, you encounter many talented to very gifted people. Many of those go on to great accomplishments while others fade away and leave the business.
Knowing what I know now, the latter were likely the smarter ones of the bunch!
The media industry is a tough business, full of constantly changing dynamics, reduced opportunities, massive egos and foolish pride, along with a high fatality rate with regard to keeping a good job. It was commonplace to see many true professionals walk away from the business due to a lack of opportunities.
Along the way, it has been delightful to meet some friends for life who served as sponsors for my career.
I will always be appreciative to Pat Matthews for helping me get started and to Bruce Miller for helping me land my first sports job.
Bob Mitchell and Bill Engel are special in my life for the great opportunities they provided to me. The same is true of Ron Maestri and Bob Christopher.
Then, there is the case of Johnny Andrews.
In the wonderful world of radio, in the words of Dragnet, the names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Unlike many, including Pat Helmstetter, Lonnie Matherne and Robert Pape, I never used a professional name, simply going by my given name. Trahan, after all, is indigenous to the culture in South Louisiana. The thought process is that while it would not play in Peoria (sorry Ron), it would find friendly ears in Cajun country, regardless of folks pronounced it.
Johnny Andrews, otherwise known in real life as John Klecic, was a radio lifer, an incredibly gifted, totally devoted individual who mastered every aspect of his craft.
When I first met the man, I had the Mike Myers line of “we’re not worthy” immediately pop into my mind.
Johnny had one of the best radio voices in the history of mankind. He made me feel that I was squeezing my diaphragm when speaking in response to him and sounding three octaves higher and I considered myself to be a decent arbiter of the spoken word. John Ferguson, another wonderful person and legend in the radio business, always advised me to continuously work on mastering the King’s English. I never abandoned that advice.
It was my honor to work for Johnny Andrews for eight years at WWL Radio.
In 1989, the late, great Hap Glaudi was ill and WWL was seeking replacements to fill in for Hap. Though the shoes were large to fill, Johnny and Bob called on me and others to have me do a few shows.
While I did not get the job, Johnny told me to continue on in the business and that when the proper opportunity presented itself, he would remember me and call on me.
As he was throughout our relationship, he was true to his word.
Less than three years later, I got that call.
Coming from a broadcast background, Johnny fully grasped the gravity of every situation you would encounter, having been there himself.
Many general managers in the industry, if not most, come from the sales side of the building and that is understandable. To work for someone who came from the broadcast side was a tremendous advantage.
The bond that Johnny and I developed was steeped in sports.
Sure, he was a fan of the New Orleans Saints, even after the organization made an ill-fated move away from the station for a couple of years. Johnny presided over getting the Saints back to WWL in 1994, where they remain today.
He could talk a solid game of basketball and even hockey.
Then, there was baseball.
Johnny was a die-hard fan of the Cleveland Indians.
Of all the discussions I had with him, reciting and recalling the history of his Indians and my St. Louis Cardinals proved to be the most valuable experiences we shared.
That, in itself, tells you about the man.
In the midst of running a conglomerate of stations (five) in the marketplace for Sinclair Broadcasting, he was an incredibly busy man with huge responsibilities on a daily basis to a national company and a bevy of employees.
Johnny would take the time to stride by my sports office, which I shared with Buddy Diliberto, to discuss the latest trade rumors in the NFL, the plight of the Saints and, of course, how good the Indians and Cardinals would be that year.
Additionally, his door was truly always open. He was available to discuss any issues regarding the station and business. It was a trait which was greatly appreciated.
As is always the case in business and in life, change is inevitable.
Upon an ownership change, Johnny was not retained by Entercom, which understandably wanted its own people in place. That came despite the fact that WWL consistently posted ratings in the nine to 10 range throughout his tenure, something that has not been consistently approached in recent years in a volatile, changing business.
Entercom is an excellent operator with a proven track record of success and the organization has my utmost respect.
Still, it was a very sad day when Johnny had to clean out his office and move on.
Change is inevitable. Within a year, I moved on as well of my own volition, thankful for my time spent there and the opportunities provided.
Those opportunities were created and shepherded by Johnny Andrews.
From hosting radio shows regularly on WWL, creating a Saturday morning show with Ed Daniels which continues today on WGSO 990 AM (The Three Tailgaters) to creating the first full-time radio show devoted to prep football show in the market in concert with Christopher, Andrews gave me a chance.
Our prep show now airs on WGSO and on 10 radio stations statewide. The show provides six hours of comprehensive high school football coverage in concert with our best-in-show scoreboard at CrescentCitySports.com.
The show has won many awards, recognized the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame, the Allstate Sugar Bowl, the LHSAA and the New Orleans Prep Hall of Fame. That is a result of the vision Johnny and Bob had and their boldness to try the concept when no one else would dare.
Then, there was the job calling the Arena League New Orleans Night games which Johnny gave me.
In 1993, these two baseball fanatics teamed up as he gave me the microphone to become the original play-by-play voice of the New Orleans Zephyrs.
In 1995, Johnny had enough confidence in me to give me the honor to call New Orleans Saints games in the preseason for the next five seasons with Daniels.
It would be egotistical to say that Johnny recognized talent when he saw it. It would be appropriate to say that a talented man had the courage of conviction to trust his intuition in giving a younger guy a shot.
Johnny went on to work very successfully in Omaha after leaving New Orleans. As voice of the Zephyrs, I made it to Omaha to call games annually.
My wife and I made sure that we contacted Johnny to see about visiting with him. We were fortunate to go to dinner with he and his wonderful wife, Coleen. It was great to see him. It was great to see him happy. He had become a Cornhusker!
Today, John Klecic lost a six-year battle with cancer in Tampa, Florida. He was 78.
To say it was a life well lived would be accurate to the core. To say that he was brilliant at his craft is true. To say that he was a family man and a man of faith first and foremost would be even more accurate. To say that he will be missed is an understatement. To say that he was loved is clear. To say that I will always be grateful, thankful and emotional when thinking about him and discussing him would be correct.
Four decades ago, I got caught up in the dragnet of this brutal but rewarding industry. I stayed in it because of people like John Klecic. What I know now is to appreciate what we have as opposed to being bitter about what did not happen or does not exist anymore. What I know now is how much John meant to my family and to my career.
As a man of faith, John handled his malaise with great courage and dignity. It was hard for me when I first heard about his disease after watching both my mother and father succumb to cancer. I can relate even more since cancer entered my life last year. As a survivor, I will strive to put a smile on the faces of my parents and John for however long the Good Lord has me on this earth.
May God truly bless Coleen, Chris, Kerry and Kyle. Your loss is our loss. Here is a video tribute from his family to a man who touched many lives, inside and outside of the broadcast industry, as well as the obituary:
Johnny Andrews (Klecic) Obituary
Former radio personality and retired radio broadcasting executive Johnny Andrews died February 15th, 2018 after a difficult battle with cancer. He was 78.
Johnny enjoyed a long and successful career as a radio disc jockey, as well as the programmer and manager of a number of successful radio stations.
Andrew’s early radio career began in Farrell, Pennsylvania and Youngstown, Ohio on local stations, before becoming a top rated radio DJ and Program Director in the 1960’s and 1970’s. He spent twelve years at Susquehanna Radio’s WHLO in Akron as one of the WHLO “Good Guys,” radio personalities, and was inducted into the Akron Radio Hall of Fame.
Known for his exceptional on air voice, he moved on to Washington DC to WRC 98, the “Rock of the Capitol,” as the midday personality over the stations highly successful, three-year Top 40 run. Lee Sherwood, first Top-40 PD at WRC, was driving through Ohio, heard Andrews on the air, and knew immediately that Johnny was exactly the voice he was looking for, offering him the job.
After WRC’s Top-40 format was dropped in 1975 for news-talk, Andrews rejoined Susquehanna Broadcasting as Operations Manager of WSBA in York, PA. He later became morning news host, program director and finally VP & General Manager at KTAR Radio in Phoenix, as well as creating and managing FM adult contemporary station KKLT for Pulitzer Broadcasting from 1983 – 1986.
Andrews went on to manage Keymarket Communications of Austin in from 1986 – 1989, and Sinclair Radio of New Orleans from 1989 – 1999. In 2000 Andrews became the manager of Pinnacle Sports, the Nebraska Huskers Radio Network until 2004, before ending his career as General Manager of Salem Communications in Omaha from 2004 – 2007.
Originally from Farrell, Pennsylvania, he is survived by his wife of 40 years, Coleen Cook Klecic, two sons, Christopher and Kerry Klecic, and a grandson, Kyle Klecic.
Andrew’s funeral will be at 10 am Saturday, February 24th at Ronan Funeral Home in Carlisle, Pennsylvania followed by a graveside service around 12 noon in Susquehanna Gardens in York, Pennsylvania.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE Owner and CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Football Foundation, College…