For years, friends and family have been telling me “You’ve gotta write down all your radio stories! People would love reading about them!” I’ve always been skeptical of this. For one thing, I don’t think folks would believe me! For another, I’m far from certain that anyone cares to hear the assorted ramblings of a 50-year-old who’s last radio job ended on May 21, 1999. Still, my friends and former colleagues insist this would make for good reading material and that it’s something I need to do before I begin to develop memory loss. Fair enough. I’ll give it my best shot. The stories you are about to hear are true. In some cases, the names have been changed to protect the ignorant and the clueless. In other cases, I have deliberately “named names” so those responsible for my success in the industry can receive the recognition which they rightly deserve.
My love affair with radio began on my third birthday: Friday, May 26, 1967. My parents threw a big party and I received the usual assortment of gifts: Tonka trucks, Tinkertoys, even a tricycle. But it was the little box that interested me the most. Since it was the smallest gift, it was the one I opened last. The box contained a Lloyds AM transistor radio. Dad bought it over Mom’s objections. “Don’t give him that”, she said. “He’s too young. He’ll break it. He won’t know what to do with it.” To this day, my mother still tells me the story of my reaction: “You pushed all your other presents away. The only thing you cared about was that radio. You took it everywhere. You tried to sleep with it at night. If we took it away, you cried hysterically until we gave it back. We would have to wait until you fell asleep and then turn it off to keep the battery from going dead.” Thus began my lifelong obsession with the airwaves.
On each birthday and Christmas that followed, my parents would ask me what I wanted for a gift. The answer was always the same: another radio! Not just any new radio, but one of a specific brand, model, and capability. Clock radios, bike radios, radios that would operate on either AC or batteries. Later, multi-band radios which could receive police calls, airplane pilots, and ham radio operators were added to the mix. Also walkie-talkies. Which of course are simply two-way radios. Radio became my life. I would spend nearly all of my free time tuning the dial, listening to the various stations, and making mental notes about what the DJs would say about the records they played. I was hooked!
As much as I loved listening to radio, I really wanted to be on the other side of the microphone. There was nothing in the world I wanted more than to be a disc jockey! In 1971, I took my first steps towards making this a reality. More on this coming soon in Chapter 2.