Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Play Misty For Me

When I was young, I thought I wanted to be an interior designer. I even took an interior design class my senior year in high school and was positive that was the road I was going to follow. That was the first semester. Second semester I took a TV Production class, the only class of it's kind offered in high school in the whole town. Even though the teacher was yicky and I always developed a migraine before the class started, I was so enthralled with the editing machine that I decided to forego the interior design career and go into broadcasting.

I signed up for broadcasting classes at Pikes Peak Community College. I had an appointment with Wendy McDonald, the head of the TV production side of broadcasting. The day I went up there to talk to her, I was so nervous I was sick. I remember sitting in the car with Mom telling her I couldn't go, I was going to puke! She still made me go. Wendy wasn't there; she had an emergency come up or something so I had to talk to the head of the radio department, Jack Donahue. I was so intimidated that I let him talk me into starting with radio rather than going right into TV like I had dreamed of.

That started an actual career! I was on the PPCC radio station, KEPC, for three semesters. I met my soon to be best friend Troy there and after a couple of years, he was hired by KSPZ radio as a board operator. He dropped my name to the program director of their sister station KVUU when he mentioned he needed a board op.

It was a normal day...I was sitting in the living room, probably eating Doritos and watching TV when the phone rang. "Hi, this is Ric Morgan from KVUU radio. I got your name from Troy who said you would be interested in a board op position." I made an appointment to go talk to Ric that afternoon and within 2 days, I had a career in radio!

It wasn't all that glamorous. At first I was a lowly board operator. No talking, just pushing buttons and keeping the music flowing. I was shocked to realize that these stations didn't take listener requests. They had a log that they followed very strictly. There was no room for what the listener wanted. As a long time listener to radio, I was offended. The public was who kept the stations going! Why weren't we catering to their wants & needs? We actually went with whatever the "consultants" told us to play. Whatever.

Since there were 4 stations in the company, the board ops were swapped and shuffled around. I ended up being a full time employee of KSPZ Oldies 92.9. I started, again, as a board op. I was working 10am-2pm but I had an hour off between noon and 1 for the All Request Lunch Hour. A "real DJ" would come in then and do the hour long show. After a while, I was moved to the 7pm-12am spot. At first it was all board op. Then the program director let me talk from 10pm-midnight. Then from 9 on. And finally, I got to talk the whole time! Woo-hoo!

When I was about 14 or so, my cousin Camille spent a couple weeks with me. She fell in love with a KIKX DJ, Gary "Rockman" McCoy just because of his voice. She called him every night and he got to know her while she was here. I always thought that was a little weird that she could fall for someone without seeing them. I found out that it wasn't just Camille that could do that.

I had three guys that called me regularly because they liked my voice. There was a 30-something guy named Mark, a teenage kid named Corey and a 50-something man named Jesse.

Mark was cool cause he knew music and he liked the same things I did. His selling point was he knew & liked Badfinger. After talking for weeks on the phone, he asked if he could meet me. I told him to show up at a karaoke bar that I went to a lot. I made sure that my brother and Troy were with me. Mark did show up and he was nice enough but he was creeping me out. The next time he called me, he admitted that he was married and was unhappy so he was looking to have an affair! Next caller, please!

Corey was sweet but damn that kid could talk. We had an 800 number for the "request" line which meant that the station was paying for each call by the minute. I would get in trouble because he would talk for like 20 minutes and I was too wussy to just hang up or interrupt him to tell him I had to go. After a while, he kinda faded away.

Jesse...ahh, Jesse. He would call every night with his Mexican accent and tell me he lived in La Junta (Jesse: "It's pronounced La Hoonta). He always asked me to play the same two songs. I can't remember what they were now but they weren't on our playlist. I kept telling him that we didn't have the songs he wanted to hear but he never gave up hope. He started sending me presents because I was nice to him. He sent me a dozen roses, money (!!!) and an 8x10 of himself. OH MY GOD!! He looked like Pancho Villa, no joke! Big & Mexican with a pasty, pock-marked face, black cowboy outfit, hat included and bullets across his chest. It was scary!

Radio, after a while, got tedious. I wasn't making enough money to support myself and after I got engaged, I knew I needed a job that paid more than $5/hr. What ticks me off to this day about the money was that I had the #1 show for that time frame in the CITY! And I was still at the bottom of the pay scale! Then I heard that the General Manager said in a meeting that "women have no place in broadcasting." That was it. I put in my 2 weeks. My last show on a Sunday afternoon I threw the log out the window and played whatever I wanted and whatever the listeners wanted. The PD came in at the end of my show and pretty much kicked me out cuz I was playing requests! Ah, radio!

I definitely don't miss it. My brother is still in the business. Somedays I think he's crazy!

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