When Robert “Flash” Gordon was a little boy, he wanted to be a singer.
“I sang in school and in church. I even had a little doo-wop group called The Pearls and a group in New York called the Tommy Penn Quintet,” Gordon said.
He had no idea that dream would lead to a career in music and entertainment that would last almost 50 years.
Gordon’s work in radio has included time at WJBE in Knoxville, Tenn., WRDW in Augusta, WEBB in Baltimore, WOIC in Columbia, and WTHB in North Augusta.
Two of those stations were owned and operated by James Brown – WRDW and WJBE, which has call letters, assigned by the FCC in 1968, that stand for James Brown Enterprises.
Brown made Gordon his programming director at WJBE and later his national programming director.
“He was always doing new things; he was always having new ideas about how a station could help expose more artists,” Gordon told The Augusta Chronicle for a story in 2011 about Brown’s induction into the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame.
In 1971, Gordon opened his first record store, Flash’s Big Platter Shop. The store was one of his many careers that has provided him with a foundation for what many say is his well-rounded business mind.
Georgia State Rep. Henry “Wayne” Howard, D-Augusta, says of Gordon, “Flash is a firm and astute businessman. One thing that I know about Flash is he doesn’t like to conduct business with customers while they are on the phone.
“I was with Flash one day when he asked someone to get off the phone when making a purchase with him. I said, ‘Flash what if you lose a sale?’ And then he explained, and it made so much sense.
“ ‘If you make a purchase and the customer is not paying attention, and they question you on the change they were given, it could be a dispute. When handling someone’s money, you should give them your undivided attention and they should give you their’s as well. It keeps down confusion.’
“He’s a sound businessman and it’s the little stuff that makes a big difference,” Howard said.
In October 1976, Jephrey Gordon, Flash’s wife, opened Pyramid Music & Video at 826 Broad St.; and they opened Pyramid II off Gordon Highway in 1987.
Jephrey Gordon believes the personal attention that her husband gives people has contributed to his longevity in business.
“He gives customers attention and he just loves talking to people. He knows about all the old-school music and is knowledgeable on the artist and the facts associated with the sound,” Jephrey said.
Tim “Minnesota Fattz” Snell said Gordon and his family business have stood the test of time.
“He’s been able to weather the storm even with all the mega music stores coming into the market. Some of them are gone now. But Flash is still here,” Snell said.
“The core of the African-American music industry, jazz, R&B, gospel, you have to go to Flash because he got it. That’s his specialty. Even with me being a program director (at WKSP 96.3 Kiss FM and WPRW Power 107) and I get music, but I still go and get music and DVDs from him,” Snell said.
“Flash is an inspiration to a lot of people for a lot of different reasons,” he said.
Gordon, a former manager of James Brown Arena, can also be seen on Sunday mornings on WJBF Channel 6 as co-host of Parade of Quartets. The gospel music program, which started in 1954, was recently recognized by The Georgia Association of Broadcasters as the longest-running television program in the state.
Gordon will be celebrated at the Augusta Mini Theatre Community Arts and Life Skills School’s fourth annual Summer Hot Roast & Toast Celebration at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 18, at the Judith Simon Drama Studio. Tickets are $50 or $500 for a table from the Augusta Mini Theatre office at 2548 Deans Bridge Road, or augustaminitheatre.com.
Proceeds will benefit the Mariah McKie Butler Memorial College Book Scholarship, which is awarded to Mini Theatre students.