Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Boss

courtesy:  York Daily Record
I never met Louis Appell, but I did work for him for nearly eleven years.

Appell died last week.  92.

For years, Appell ran Susquehanna Pfaltzgraff.  The York based company owned a lot of things-- cable TV systems, Pfaltzgraff pottery, tons of real estate, billboards, a singular television station, and a radio division.

Susquehanna started with a radio station in York.  WARM in Scranton was part of the chain.  I was there from 1981 to 1991.  The radio chain eventually grew to be rather large, with stations in San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Norfolk, Miami, Long Island, Akron...

I read a lot of Appell stories after his passing.  He did great things for the city of York.  He was big on redevelopment.  I was in the home office in York once-- a restored old building.  It was spectacular.  The thing I remember most was the carpeting.  It was the thickest, deepest carpeting I had ever set foot upon.  He went first class.

Mr. Appell was a conservative man.  I remember we all received commemorative Pfaltzgraff plates after George H. W. Bush was elected president in 1988.  I still have mine somewhere.

There were many times when WARM employees weren't treated particularly well.  Benefits were okay.  Money could have been better.  We worked six day weeks, and that wears you down after a while.  Some good people got burned out and left.  The facility was neglected.  It finally got an upgrade about mid way through my term.  Good management and solid direction were sorely lacking during big parts of my employment.  The station had to modernize, but they couldn't find anyone who knew how to do it.

I will give Appell credit for a sense of community.  His radio stations were heavily involved in the towns and cities they served.  You cannot put a price on that.  He apparently liked news because WARM had a big staff and a kick butt newsroom, and I was very proud to be a small part of that for a long time.

WARM was sold off shortly after I left.  From what I understand, the younger Appells didn't want all those businesses, so they were spun away.  It can be argued all those radio stations were never the same.  It was a big company, but also a family business.

My sympathy to the Appell family and those whose lives he touched.