Me and Billy Joe

Billy Joe “Red” McCombs wants to give me money.

Red McCombs Media has proposed a business venture with the Durango Telegraph – the Village at Wolf Creek developer has asked us to climb into bed.

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a media buyer with Red McCombs Media. After a nondescript but warm “Hello,” the pitch hit.

“What we would like to do is fully occupy your remnant inventory with our rotating banners on a revenue sharing structure,” she wrote. “We also work on Cost Per Click”

Occupy my remnant inventory! Rotating banners! Revenue sharing structure! Cost Per Click! I have to be honest. My interest was piqued. What did Red McCombs Media have in store for us?

The media buyer offered a timely clarification. “You can rest assured that we do NOT rotate any pornographic or inappropriate content!” Then she moved in to close the deal, typing, “I’d love to get something set up with you ASAP!”

Was this a secret attempt to buy off a small piece of the media? Attempted collusion? Has a McCombs’ attorney been ghost-writing large sections of the newspaper?

I’m afraid not. She was just a “junior media buyer” stuck in an air-conditioned cubicle somewhere in the great elsewhere – a junior media buyer who forgot to do her research before making contact. After all, business ventures are relationships at heart, and Red and I still have a lot of ground to cover.

Financially, we’re in totally separate universes. Billy Joe is known as the man who homogenized the airwaves, diluting and wiping out small, upstart radio stations with Clear Channel replacements. I’m one of the founders of a small upstart doing its best to buck the world of the franchise. Red owns the sixth largest auto conglomerate in the U.S., while I’ve owned just shy of six autos since I got my learner’s permit two decades ago.

Red is also staunchly Republican and a personal friend of George W. Bush’s, having contributed upwards of $500,000 to the GOP since 1991. Politically, I fall somewhere between waffling independent and radical anarchist depending on the day of the week. Red’s heinie has sat in chairs in both the Oval Office and at the ranch at Crawford. I’ve only seen photos of the Oval Office and written a piece about when W. hurt his heinie while mountain biking on the ranch in Crawford.

But stranger things have happened Maybe Red and I could find some common ground. Perhaps we could cut the junior media buyer out of the loop, and Billy Joe and I can sit down Mano y Mano and negotiate a deal.

I propose a dinner meeting, somewhere near the small West Texas town of Spur, where the self-described “Bubba” first came into the world in 1927. It’s actually familiar ground for me as well. I spent the most challenging six months of my life in Red’s neck of the woods, roughnecking on oil rigs just outside the small West Texas town of Pleasanton. Maybe after a little roasted javelina and an ice cold Lone Star or two, we’d pay a visit to the old well-pad and decipher the meaning of “rotating banner.” Making sure we’re operating on the same “cost per click” basis, we’d climb into a Corvette on loan from one of his dealerships. With my foot on the gas pedal, Red and I would zip up to San Antonio, greasing a few Texas troopers’ palms en route, and then meet up with McCombs’ wife, Charline, and his three lovely daughters and take in a San Antonio Spurs game.

“I used to own this team,” Red would tell me between more sips of Lone Star and before placing a giant, foam cowboy hat on my head.

A quick leer jet ride later, our matching foam hats would walk down the concourse at Denver International. We’d take in a couple of Colorado Banquet Beers and share yawns during a Denver Nuggets game. Red would lean close, the words “I used to own this team” again issuing from his jowels. Another jet ride, a warm Molson and a brutal Minnesota Vikings defeat later, Red would again repeat those magic words. By this time, Charline, Red and the girls would really enjoy my quaint Colorado company, my room service tab would be into five figures and the foam hats would be due for a little dry-cleaning. In a moment of weakness, I might even sign on that dotted line.

“You know, you’re like the son I never had,” BJ would tell me, paperwork in hand. “Do me the biggest of favors, change your name to Willy Joe and take my daughter Lynda as your bride.”

Right about this time, my wife, Rachael, comes to the rescue, wrests the Molson from my hand, plants her foot firmly on my heinie and spirits me back to reality. In her infinite wisdom, my honcha not only spares me decades imprisoned inside Lynda McCombs’ arms, she proposes a more realistic business proposal.

In this simple venture, the Sands family regularly journeys the 80 miles to Wolf Creek Ski Area, coughs up $45 apiece to ride Colorado’s only fixed-grip quad and skis some of the best powder in the Rockies. During the off-season, we flood congressmen, senators and forest servants with e-mails and letters opposing ludicrous developments at high elevations. This equation is repeated for as many years as necessary to keep the Village at Wolf Creek at bay and the ma and pop ski area in business. At its peak growth, our venture includes all of our buddies and much of Durango. And with hard work and determination, we reap the ultimate return – good-old Billy Joe turns his back on Colorado and goes back to hawking domestic automobiles in the badlands of West Texas.

– Will Sands



In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
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January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows