Bernie Gorter at his farewell retirement party
A young Bernie Gorter in the late 60's
WALKER, Mich. (WZZM) - If you've seen the drama 'Mad Men' on AMC, then you know the advertising business in New York was full of drinking, smoking, and dining out. As it turns out, 44 years ago when Bernie Gorter started in sales at WZZM 13, it was pretty much the same thing.
"You really didn't have to work that hard," explains Bernie. "You pretty much partied all day long and all night long with clients."
Bernie Gorter has just retired after a 44 year run at WZZM 13 that started in 1968 in the era that 'Mad Men' is set.
"My expense account was bigger than what I was making," explains Bernie. "The name of the game was wine and dine and clients expected it back then."
Back then, cigarette advertising was common with ads like a smoking cowboy and the words "Welcome to Flavor Country."
"Cigarette advertising was one of the largest advertisers on broadcast television and that ended in 1970s," explains Bernie. "A bill that Nixon wrote ended cigarette advertising with the last ad running on John Carson in January of 1971."
While smoking was allowed on TV, it was almost a requirement for being an employee at WZZM 13.
"We all smoked. I can't think of a person at the station that didn't smoke at the time," says Bernie. "When you got on the phone you were smoking."
Just like the show 'Mad Men,' women were secretaries and assistants. "It was a man's world, the managers were guys-- now all the managers in the market are women and credit to them, they all worked hard to get where they are."
The fashion around WZZM 13 was business formal. "You pretty much wore a suit because broadcasting is considered an extremely conservative business."
As Bernie gave his farewell speech Friday at WZZM 13, he mentioned what he will miss the most: "I am going to miss the people."
We are going to miss you too, Bernie! Thanks for the 44 years here is to many more mad years.