Murray Saul takes on SOHIO

This is a recently-discovered raw audio of Murray Saul’s We, the People interview with Pitt Curtis, the director of public affairs for SohioStandard Oil of Ohio. 
Sohio was one of the successor companies to Standard Oil after the 1911 antitrust breakup of the original Standard Oil Company founded by John D. Rockefeller.

In 1968, Sohio merged with British Petroleum (BP).  Though the deal was announced as Sohio acquiring BP interests in North America, the terms stipulated that BP would have majority interest in Sohio’s share of oil production from the Alaskan Pipeline’s  Prudhoe Bay oilfield once it achieved 600,000 barrels per day.


In 1977, Sohio announced that it would build a 45-story, 658 ft. building in downtown Cleveland at Public Square and Curtis was making the rounds to publicize the project.

During the Sohio Building construction, British Petroleum purchased the remaining 45 percent of Standard Oil of Ohio and the company was renamed BP America.

The building was not completed until 1985 and didn’t officially open until 1987. It was renamed the BP America Tower.

sohio-map-of-clevelandRegrettably for Cleveland, when British Petroleum acquired the Chicago-based Amoco Corp. in 1998, the company announced that it would relocate its headquarters to Chicago and put the building up for sale.

Since then, most of the building has remained vacant, though recently the Columbus-based Huntington Bank announced plans to move from its current East Ninth and Euclid Avenue site to the BP Building, which will be renamed for the bank.

Though he claimed no premonition, Murray closed the program by asking Sohio to “stay in Ohio.”

Sohio was a major radio and television advertiser and radio stations, WMMS among them, used a special sounder when the temperature dropped below a certain temperature to provide a special weather update, mentioning how Sohio gas “prevents fuel line freeze-ups” with the close “You go or Sohio pays your tow.”


Murray Saul on the interview

The brand name “Sohio” harkens back to the glory years when the Rockefellers and Standard Oil were headquartered in Cleveland.   After the anti trust breakup Standard Oil of Ohio (SOHIO) remained here.

The big breakthrough came when they hit oil in Alaska in Prudhoe Bay.  As part of the celebration Sohio announced they would erect a sky scraper of their own, right on Public Square.

Pitt Curtis was public relations director for Sohio, and was happy to discuss it on We, the People.  The irony is of course, they built it, were bought out by the Queen; British Petroleum was very Royal back then, and pulled out of Cleveland.

It should be noted that my last words were “Stay in Cleveland”

One Response to “Murray Saul takes on SOHIO”

  1. Phil O"Malley Says:

    Without WMMS my teen years growing up in Avon, Ohio, would have been less exciting for sure…Bowie…Roxy Music…Suzi Quatro!…Eno…Todd Rundgren…WMMS turned us on to alternative rock…fresh, new and exciting…music of this kind will never cross our way again with such abundance and such creativity…Kid Leo’s voice introducing these bands…along with Denny…Steve Leschbaugh (sp?), etc., made the music all that much more cool…Cleveland was a real forerunner in all if that seemingly “esoteric” music…weelll, bring WMMS back as a station that reintroduces those acts to baby boomer rockers and the kids…use the same type foremat and see what happens…it won’t be a rock-n-roll revival…it will be a new take on something really great…an era in time and music that should never be forgotten introduced by bunch of DJ’s who dared to be different. Now go play Bowie”s “Pinups” or Suzi Quatro’s debut LP and see if you, too, don’t get the shivers!

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