When I was about 4 or 5 my parents bought me “Meet the Beatles”. I loved it. I played it all the time. It was a record. This was long before CDs. Back in the land of 8-Track tapes and such. As I got older, I would buy singles (45 RPM) every week at the drug store. I couldn’t afford LPs. I still have all of them. I loved music. When I was in 6th grade, I started to learn to play the guitar. I have since learned to play several instruments. In 1974, my older brother and I were invited to go hiking in New Hampshire with my Aunt and Uncle. They had just been married. We joined them on their honeymoon! After we got back, we stayed in their apartment in Cambridge, MA. That was when I first learned about stereo headphones. He had a very good LP collection and a high quality “HIFI”. I found this album called “Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band”. It was mind blowing. The funny thing is that I had no idea that it was the same group that I had been listening to as a child. I used to dream of being a radio DJ. I would pretend to be one in my room for hours.
When I was 15, I called into a local AM radio station and won a Pure Prairie League album. When I went to pick it up, I was in awe of the place. I asked if I could get a tour. They took me around and showed me everything. I was in love. I asked them if I could hang out there and just watch. Reluctantly, they said yes. So, I started going there everyday after school. It wasn’t long until they said, as long as you’re going to be here, you might as well do something! So, my first assignment was to type up Public Service Announcements (PSAs). Organizations regularly send tons of announcements to radio stations asking them to promote them. Among the many Federal requirements for broadcasters is to provide a service to the community. So, I would type up these cards for the DJs to read on air. “The Vienna Rotary is holding a bake sale this Saturday. For more information, contact Myrtle at 703-999-2938”.
I did that for a while. Eventually, they asked me if I wanted to be on the air? I was thrilled!
So, I had to apply for a first class radio operator license.
I got it and was then allowed to turn on and modify the huge transmitter they had. The station was a small one, located outside of Washington D.C. It had three antennas. It was a directional AM signal. They had a sunup to sundown license. That meant that they could only be on the air during daylight. Also, we had to point our signal away from DC. It was exactly like WKRP in Cincinnati. We had all the same characters. The only difference is that we didn’t have a Loni Anderson!
Because they station went off the air at sundown, that meant that the studio was free at 6 PM. Because I was now an employee, I had a key to the station. I needed it because I had started doing the early shift on Sunday mornings. How ironic is it that I, and atheist, had to run prerecorded religious shows. I also ran local political shows. I didn’t care. I was on the AIR!! Of course, I would only get to say the station ID at the top of the hour, but I was 15 and on the air. I had achieved something that I wanted to do. Eventually, I was able to get more air time and play music and commercials. I was in heaven, so to speak. I have lots of great stories about my time there, but it only lasted about a year. The station changed format to country and everyone got let go. I was ok with it though. It was an incredible experience. Although the station was small, the DJs that I knew there were working internships at the bigger DC stations. Some of the guys that I was friends with are now very famous DJs. So, I have that…
What did you do with your dreams?