Ten questions with radio legend & Realtor Preston Westmoreland
That Real Estate Show host Diane Brennan sits down with radio legend & Realtor Preston Westmoreland.
When I first started working at KTAR as a news anchor, Preston Westmoreland was doing a talk show during afternoon drive. He was nice, gracious and welcoming and included me on his show, even though I was new. Preston and his wife, Nancy, now have an incredibly successful real estate career. He’s an amazing person to work with and I’m pleased that he would let me interview him and share his wisdom and stories with you.
1. When did you start your real estate career?
I actually got my real estate license around 1985, but it was never hung with a company until 2004. My wife, Nancy, was an escrow officer and branch manager for First American Title. She thought it would be good to have and for use after the radio business. I will tell you, frankly, that I hated it. I used to read all my flying magazines in class; never thought I would really get into it and couldn’t imagine selling real estate.
2. Why did you get into real estate?
I felt real estate was a natural field for me to get into, because I think I had the right personality for it. It was the first job in face-to-face selling I had ever done, even though I read commercials for years on KTAR. It’s much more difficult facing the buyer directly, much more intimidating.
3. Did you get a lot of clients who were listeners?
This may come as a surprise, but I have never sold a home because I was on the radio. There was actually only one KTAR employee who used me to find a house or sell a house. It just never developed like that, and at first, I couldn’t figure out why. Bill Heywood and I got into real estate at the same time, both with Russ Lyon, and we both went through Russ Lyon’s mandatory course together.
After 6 months or so, neither one of us had sold anything big and I told Bill that I had figured out why: nobody wants to buy a house from a radio guy. It’s such a huge purchase, they want to buy a house from someone established in the field. Their perception was that we were learning the ropes. I could respect that, and it caused me to become even more dedicated to learning the fine points of real estate. It then got to the point where buyers would choose me for my real estate expertise, and not for what I did on the radio. I remember one buyer had mentioned my name to the people at his work and one said, “Don’t you know who that is? He was on the radio for years.” That’s when our business started to take off.
4. Do you miss radio?
I spent about five years in Phoenix as a disc jockey for Dick Van Dyke’s station, KXIV, and one day Al McCoy suggested I drop off an audition tape to KTAR, because he had heard they had a new job opening coming up, a new talk show called “Midday.”
I had an amazing ride in radio at KTAR. I was chosen to start off the talk radio programming in 1978 when KTAR was located in the Channel 12 building, back when KPNX-TV was KTAR-TV. The call letters actually meant “Keep Taking the Arizona Republican,” from when were were connected to the original Arizona Republic newspaper. I did morning and afternoon talk by myself for the first couple of years, interviewing up to 90 people a week with no phone calls. We had no computers, cell phones, cable TV — no modern technology. Since it was one of the few outlets for celebrities coming through town, we got them all. I have an astounding list of legendary people I was able to interview, many in person: George Burns, Bob Hope, Milton Berle, Ella Fitzgerald, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Paul Harvey about five times, G. Gordon Liddy. I had a guest who told me I should start writing the names down because I would never remember them. He was right, so I kept a list. It’s on my website.
When I finished my radio career in 2004, I had interviewed over 25,000 people. I was at KTAR in three buildings, while it was owned by four companies. I had nine general managers, eight news directors and seven program directors. What kept me there were the ratings, as we were always in the top three. When I left, I was tied for number one in afternoon drive. That’s the secret of success in radio.
5. What is your most embarrassing moment in radio?
Probably when I was interviewing a pilot who told me he had crashed seven airplanes and walked away from all seven crashes. I was feeling relaxed in the interview and then said, “Are you [expletive] me?” We broke for a commercial and he said to me, “I think you just said a swear word on the air.” I told him he was have been mistaken, that was not possible. I learned then, never to get that relaxed on the air again!
6.What is your most embarrassing moment in real estate?
Well, I thought it might be when I walked in to show a house on the lock box, and a guest was in the shower, but I find the most embarrassing moments are when you have taken a client around to look at a lot of houses, invested all kinds of time with them, only to see them come into an open house with another Realtor. Talk about an awkward moment.
I was sitting an open house one day when the buyer refused to get out of the car and come in, because she was so ashamed to have me see her with another Realtor. I had apparently showed her homes all over the place. She was so embarrassed that she drove down the road and waited for her agent to preview the home. I still don’t know who it was and hate to think I have that affect on many of my clients. The best advice I had when getting into real estate was, “You have to be better than the ten other Realtors that everybody knows.” How true.
7. Top three interviews in radio?
Charles Kuralt, veteran CBS newsman. Years ago, he had heard that I set to ride the rails as a hobo. I traveled over 25,000 miles this way and he wanted to hop a freight train with me for a CBS “On the
Road” segment. We were to do it from Bakersfield to L.A. on the Southern Pacific. The week before the shoot, which had to be done illegally, I decided to practice it and took a bus to Bakersfield and a cab to the train yard, Once I was in the boxcar, the police arrested me and threw me into jail. The cab driver had called the police on me. When I interviewed Kuralt in Phoenix years later, he said of all the stories he’s missed, that’s the one they wished they could have done
Paul Harvey, in studio for an hour. He kept trying to interview me and I kept asking him questions. Finally, he insisted on interviewing me about how I got started in radio. After I answered him, he says, “And now we know the rest of the story.” Just great, classic radio. The interview, along with Charles Kuralt and some of my other favorites is up on my webpage.
And finally, Fanie Fenelon. Probably my all time favorite. She was sent to be killed in Auschwitz by the Nazis, but they selected her to play in a ragtag orchestra that would perform at night so the Nazis
could relax after killing all day long. She never knew when she would be sent to death. How can you top a story like that?
7. Top three deals in real estate and why?
One of our first big sales will forever be my greatest sale. Nancy and I sold “The Boulder House” in north Scottsdale, described as one of the most unique homes in America. The Fort McDowell Nation purchased the home, built out of a pile of huge natural boulders, for $4.8 million. When the tribe dedicated the home, Nancy and I were some of the few outsiders invited to the tribal blessing and the president of the nation, Raphael Bear, told our story. Just inspiring.
One of the largest homes ever built on the runway at Carefree Skyranch, for $2.65 million. The hangar, which was 90 feet wide, was larger than the home. It had been featured by several TV stations.
A small home in north Scottsdale on Redbird Road for about $500,000. It’s memorable, because we met the buyer at our first open house. We subsequently showed him 94 homes before he purchased this home months later. It taught us to stick with it, learn from experience, because each home you show teaches you more.
8. What listings would you like to promote?
Our mountain getaway at 7030 E. Stagecoach Pass, listed for $3.95 million. One of most secluded homes I’ve ever seen and best built. It overlooks the Boulders Resort.
And our Gold Mine at Gold Hill, the most land offered in Scottsdale at 117 acres. Can you imagine the recent price reduction of over $30 million dollars? Now listed at $12.9 million
9. What have you learned the most about people from working in real estate?
It’s easy to repeat some of cliches in real estate that emphasize the negative, like “buyers are liars,” things like that, but on a positive note, selling real estate can be an empowering thing.
I sold a home in Cave Creek one time, and went back after the people had moved in, and they put up small wooden sign by the entrance to their home with their name cut into the wood, and on top, it said something like “Welcome to our Home.” It just struck me as very gratifying to sell a family the most important thing they will ever have, the one thing that will occupy albums and videos and loads of memories their whole life. You do make a difference.
10. Anything else you’d like to add?
No, except, I’m very pleased to see how successful you have become, utilizing both your radio skills and real estate knowledge. I still think you could have been on the networks!