Town to Town Up and Down the Dial

We had an interesting discussion this morning on The Breakfast Club tracing our radio roots.   Big Tuna and Rhino were in studio during the 8 o’clock hour and we were glancing back on the origins of our humble college radio station which signed on the air in October of 2009 broadcasting from “high atop the Josephine B. Abney Cultural Center”.  This was back when you had to climb the stairs 66 steps to the studio from the Lander Caf.   I remember the steps partly because I watched Big Tuna trip up them carrying a cup of hot cocoa.  We also had to be quiet anytime there was a performance in the auditorium which seemed to be quite frequently.  Ah, those were the days.

As the discussion progressed this morning I began to recall some of the AM and FM frequencies that have been part of my radio career.  This made me think back to a few of them and I wanted to share some of my radio journey with you…..

WLBH FM 96.9FM – 1170AM – My first radio gig.  50,000 watt torch with transmitters that took up as much room as complete stations I would work for later.  My whole blogging experience began with memories of this place.  I took the job as a night time disc jockey after good friend and now famous screenwriter Craig Titley and I had visited the station a few times to visit our friend Rick Berg.  Berg mentioned that a disc jockey postion was open and suggested I apply.  I got the job and began a three year adventure working for the Livesay family at “our studios two miles north of Mattoon”.   I have many stories from my time at WLBH which can be found on the old site.

WLKL 89.9FM – This was while I was still working at WLBH. We could do another website with loads of material just about the people I met at Lakeland College. This was a great atmosphere for people who knew absolutely nothing about being on the radio and proved it everyday. HA! This was post Ken Beno, under Station manager Mike Bradd. Poor Mike had a rough crew to try and bleed talent from…. My best memories of Lakeland, other than any encounters with college girls in the production booth were the people.

Wow, what a crew we had there. My years at “90 FM WLKL, The Voice of Lake Land College” featured the likes of Rich Thompson of whom I co-hosted the morning show with twice a week, Brian Goad, Darren Foley, Bub McCullough,  Leah Hamilton, April Burry, Todd “the Tater” Fultz, John Schmidt, Michelle Mosely, Phil and Mark (two older burned out hippie dudes), and others I just can’t remember. The library basement studio area was such a cool place to hang out and be young and naive. I loved having the freedom to be creative and experiment on the air.  These are great memories especially now that I am overseeing a college radio station.  There is something simply magical about college radio for me and I hope someday to read about the experiences of those who are going through our program at Lander U.

WEIC 92.1FM 1270AM – I was hired by a guy named Ed Moore to be the News Director and to co-host the morning show on AM with Steve Stone. No, not the Cubs announcer Steve Stone, but the long red haired, outlaw type guy..Steve Stone. I don’t have too much to say here other than I liked Steve and enjoyed playing golf with him after the show was over. We had a crappy satellite feed that they wanted me to use cuts from in my morning news. I would tape news for the rest of the day on AM and FM. This was the most garbled, static filled satellite feed you have ever heard in your life, and I finally took a stand and told them I wasn’t using it because it sounded horrible. It was embarrassing. A few days later, after not playing the stupid garbled stuff, I got fired. Ed told me that it was because I wasn’t using the feed that they were paying for. I thought that was a crock of $%(#(*. This was my first and last time to be fired from a radio station.

WSAK 106.9 – With great promises, I took the job with Jay Martin at Stereo Country 106 in rural Sullivan, Il. Tom Ohlmstead was also there and did mornings with Jay. I ran the station throughout the day, did news, production and even wrote comedy sketches for them to do on the morning show. WSAK was a paradox walking. They had great equipment since they were owned by media giant Viacom who would use them as a test facility, yet the station was completely nasty. They had a dog named “country” who roamed the studio and cats that also were on the loose inside taking little cat dumps all over. So here I would sit at this great board staring at a computer that ran things (Wow!) and still allowed you to look at other things in these things called Windows, while at the same time I was trying not to puke from the cat-litter box smell of the place. It was amazing. I wasn’t too long before I realized that this was going nowhere. I eventually left the cornfields of Sullivan in search of bigger things….

101.3 WMCI – I was part of a great team working for the Cromwell Group to help start up this station in the second story studios in uptown Mattoon. I was News Director. The cast here included Chip Douglas in the mornings, Jeff Owens with Sports, Darren Foley, Bub McCullough, and Mark, the slightly wormy station manager. I had a great time working with Jeff and Bub and the gang. J.O. was the sales king. He set a sales record for bringing in the most consecutive orders in a row….it was impressive. I still have air checks from WMCI, including the report of my son Dylan’s birth as announced by Jeff on an October morning show…

104.3 WCBH – Enough rock and roll for two states, this was a pretty cool station and probably was collectively, the most fun I had working for a radio station, even though my personal life at that time was a trainwreck. I was living in Terre Haute, IN at the time and secured a weekend position at this classic rock station based in Casey, IL. The station manager was was an old jock who used to work at one of the powerhouse AM stations in Cleveland, OH. He had great stories and was a funny, animated guy. The program director when I arrived was a guy  who went by the on-air name of “the Mighty Quinn”. This guy was a paranoid schizophrenic, manic depressive that was in a bad relationship with a woman that caused him to destroy and tear things up. He was a moody ticking time bomb, until he left us shortly after I got there.

This is the truth. My first regular shift at 104.3 was working from 6pm on Saturday until 6am on Sunday morning. For two weeks straight, I worked a full 24-hour shift from Saturday morning, until Sunday morning. At midnight, we would play the “Saturday Night Six-Pack, which would feature 6 CD’s played back to back. I would introduce them individually, and then sleep on the couch in the lobby with an alarm clock sitting on my chest to wake me up before the CD ended. Only once did I wake up with “dead air”! I worked weekends until the mid-day position opened up, and they offered my the position. One other thing about the weekends…I worked with a guy named Bob who drove down from CHICAGO for a once a week 6-hour air shift. He said that he hoped the experience would help him get a job in the Windy City. I couldn’t get over how far a commute that was for one air shift.

After Chuck the Psycho PD left, Darren Foley took over that position. I had worked with Foley at Lake Land and WMCI and must say that he was a funny, creative morning man and had several of his song parodies picked up by the national radio humor resource people. Afternoon’s featured Shawn Murphy, who was a slightly burned out ramblin’ radio man. He had big pipes, and a good sense of humor but was known to talk a bit too much during his breaks. John Evans was the night time host.  We thought he looked like a white Lionel Richie.

WCBH was a party station. We hosted party nights in Terre Haute at least a couple of times a month. I volunteered to sell WCBH because I believed in the product. We genuinely had a great time and I think it came through on the air. Most of the air-staff would come out to the events and it was a family atmosphere most of the time. I recall one night at a club in Terre Haute when Shawn Murphy was there and we were partying down and he brought a ventriloquist dummy into this place and was trying to pick up girls using the dummy. I maybe have never laughed so hard again in my life as I did that night watching him.

WCBH Lowest Moment – I was volunteered to answer the phones on the WTWO (Channel 2 in Terre Haute) Jerry Lewis Labor Day MDA telethon. I spent the whole day on camera, and instead of being quiet, I kept egging on the hosts and cracking jokes. They challenged the viewers to pledge a certain amount of money to see ME dance with a giant (man in a suit) Duck. Sure enough, the money came in and I had to dance around the studio floor with a duck. I still have nightmares.

WCBH Best Moment – WTWO news anchor woman Lee Walters and I teamed up to cook in the Terre Haute Chili Cookoff to benifit Altrusa International. We came with a bunson burner looking grill. It wasn’t even a grill, it was just a burner. I had a pot and a stirring spoon and that was it. We used regular old hamburger and a few seasonings. To my surprise, the other teams arrived in these giant motor homes with these massive grills. One team used Filet’ Mignon for their meat. There were 60 other teams some with displays of their “chili award trophies” neatly laid out on tables next to their giant fancy grills. To make a long story short, we won. We beat those other fancy teams with our little loser bunson burner grill and hamburger chili. Our secret ingredient…a half a bottle of Aunt Jemimah Maple Syrup. We split the prize money between us and I got to keep an engraved silver chili bowl for the victory. I have never entered another cooking contest and don’t plan to, and so I will die undefeated.

106.9FM  WZEZ/1310 WTTL

This was a great station in Madisonville, Kentucky where I served as both news director and mid-day host.   I worked the morning show with broadcast legend Jerry O who was just shy of retirement and is no longer with us today.  Jerry did an amazing toy drive each year and had classic radio stories that would blow your mind.   EZ 107 had the best studio set-up of any station that I have ever worked for.  The FM jock was encased in glass overlooking the main street of Madisonville with a spiral staircase going up to a jock lounge area.  I have never seen another studio like that one to this day.

There are a few others I don’t have listed but taking it all in, I think the list reads as follows

AM

1170, 1270, 1310, 1450, 1610

FM

88.9, 89.9, 92.1, 94.1, 96.9, 101.3, 104.3, 106.9 (twice)


Top 15 Iconic Guitars in the History of Recorded Music

After much debate and jockeying for position, I present to you the top 15 iconic guitars in the history of recorded music. This is not the list of most talented guitar players. It is a listing of the guitars…the wood and steel that changed music forever. The envelope please….


15. The Big B – Built by Gretsch for Ellas Bates McDaniels (Bo Diddly) in the 1950’s.


14. Trigger – Willie Nelson’s 1969 Martin Acoustic

13. Allman Brothers Special. Dickey Bett’s 1957 Redtop LP (he later painted it gold)

12. Robert Johnson’s 1928 Gibson L1. He got it at the Crossroads.

11. Ace Frehley’s Standard Heritage Cherry Burst Les Paul

10. Chuck Berry’s Cherry Red Gibson ES-345. Johnny B Good.

9. Jimi Hendrix’ Right Hand Reverse Strung 60’s era Fender Stratocaster. He made it sound like no one else had before.


8. Pete Townsend’s Gibson Les Paul Deluxe. It’s iconic because of the attitude and the smashed pieces on the stage floor. And no son…their song is not called “the CSI theme”.


7. The Funk Machine. James Jamerson’s 62 Fender Precision Bass. You may have never heard of him but you have heard him. This is (arguably) the greatest bass player to ever thump a G string. You heard this bass on these tracks just to name a few. I personally believe that the bass line on Stevie Wonder’s “I was made to love her” is his greatest work. Props to a man who was kept in the shadows of Motown for most of his life but deserves much credit.
(CT…his life would make a great screenplay)


6. Jimmy Page’s Gibson EDS-1275 SG Doubleneck. It’s all the rage these days what with the reunion and everything. I wonder if Jimmy will need a back brace for the extra weight at his age?


5. Blackie – Eric Clapton. Clapton bought this guitar at the Sho-Bud guitar shop in Nashville for $100 (he bought three extra and gave them away as gifts to George Harrison, Pete Townsend, & Stevie Winwood). Blackie was auctioned off for $959,500 by Christies on June 24, 2004.


4. Lucille. B.B. King’s Gibson ES-355. This is the legend of “the lady”.


3. # 1 – Stevie Ray Vaughan’s favorite guitar. If there is a guitar that had more personality of it’s owner, I don’t know of one. It seems that SRV andNumber One (also known as his “first wife”) were intertwined where you could’t tell where one ended and the other began. This Strat is now in the safe of one Mr. Jimmy Vaughan.


2. Paul’s Hoffner Bass – Iconic to the inth degree.

1. Frankenstein – Eddie Van Halen’s Kramer. I will turn 40 this year and this guitar has to be tops for iconic in my book. Some of you will throw fruit at me for putting EVH on top but you can bite me. This guitar and it’s funky stripes rocked my world.

A Beautiful Day

It is 10:37pm as I begin to write this post.  It has been a long day on the Lander University campus.  It has also been a really good day.    My Tuesday began 16 or so hours ago waking up early doing the morning show on our college radio station which is routine for me.  As General Manager of XLR, I count it a privilege to spend time with our listeners each morning helping to get people started with their days.    Our little radio station is doing quite well these days with over twenty five student disc jockeys helping to produce live programming in a variety of formats and genres.  It makes me proud to see the preparation and creativity channeled into an outlet like a campus radio station.  The Lander campus didn’t have this before October of 2009 and we have grown splendidly over the last two years.    

Today we heard from DJ’s like Diomi Gordon, Ryan Wiley with his new Beach Music show, Sports talk with Trust Lee and Miya, the Afternoon Experience with Corey Pitts, The Road Trip with Graham Shaffer, The Ben and Lucas Show, the return of the Nic Nac Nicole show and wrapping up this evening was the excellent Zero Hour with DJ Mike.    

After lunch with three of my blogging brothers in the L.U. caf, I got lots of work done this afternoon on projects and proposals.  We have great things in progress in the Lander University Department of Mass Communications and Theatre!

To end my day, I attended an advanced screening of the four student directed One Act Plays tonight in our Cultural Center green room.   One of the plays featured Breakfast Club regular Big Tuna dressed in a toga so I had to go really.   I WAS BLOWN AWAY at how good they all were.  Congratulations to the four student directors and all the actors for doing an amazing job tonight (and this was just a final dress rehearsal).  With seating only for 60, they will unfortunately have to  turn many people away over the next few days.  I recommend getting there at least an hour early if you want any chance of getting a seat for the performances.   You won’t be disappointed.

This kind of day made me proud of our students at Lander.  I am impressed with the hard work and determination that is poured into their work (not just in radio, television, and theatre).  We have incredibly talented students who are working on their nursing degrees, teacher education, science,  business, mathematics (say hi to that cute professor for me), art, music,  history, physical education studies, and many more areas of study.  I am a better person for getting to spend this brief time with our students and as I lay down tonight I am thankful for the opportunity once again.  

Good night (and let’s do it all again tomorrow)


An Expensive Loogie

Tiger Woods has been fined somewhere between $400 and $2000 for spitting on a green in this past weekend’s Dubai Classic played in the fancy shmancy United Arab Emirates.  U.A.E. may have the world’s tallest building and the poshest indoor ski resort, sure, but if I am legally not allowed “hock a loogie” after making bogey on the 12th, I sure don’t want to play there.

Let’s give three cheers to the good ol’ USA where you can still spit, fart, scratch, unleash a good snot rocket and all the other things that make us the greatest sports venue in the world.   Amen.

Editor’s Note – I had several examples of photographic evidence for said “snot rocket” and chose not to share any of them using what might be called “better judgement”. Perhaps I am finally growing up now?


Diamond Head

This is the view of Diamond Head from our beach at the Hilton Honolulu Village at Waikiki Beach.  I snapped this just before the first sunset during our visit to Hawaii for the 2011 Pro Bowl.  I was part of  a team working for the National Football League through the Laminex Family of Companies based here in Greenwood, SC.   We worked hard providing credentials for over 4500 individuals involved in the big game from Terry Bradshaw and the Goo Goo Dolls all the way down to vendors and security workers.   The experience was fantastic and I have a few more posts that will document the trip.   Tonight, I put together some footage of a trip Greg and I made on the Friday before the game to the summit of Diamond Head just south of Waikiki Beach.  You can check out the youtube video here.


The Taser

A friend shared this story with me this week.  True or not, it is an entertaining and educational read.

A warning to us all!

Pocket Taser Stun Gun, a great gift for the wife. A guy who purchased his lovely wife a pocket Taser for their anniversary submitted this last weekend.

I saw something at Larry’s Pistol & Pawn Shop that sparked my interest. The occasion was our 15th anniversary and I was looking for a little something extra for my wife Julie. What I came across was a 100,000-volt, pocket/purse-sized Taser.

The effects of the Taser were supposed to be short lived, with no long term adverse affect on your assailant, allowing her adequate time to retreat to safety!

WAY TOO COOL!

Long story short, I bought the device and brought it home… I loaded two AAA batteries in the thing and pushed the button. Nothing! I was disappointed. I learned, however, that if I pushed the button and pressed it against a metal surface at the same time, I’d get the blue arc of electricity darting back and forth between the prongs. AWESOME! Unfortunately, I have yet to explain to Julie what that burn spot is on the face of her microwave.

Okay, so I was home alone with this new toy, thinking to myself that it couldn’t be all that bad with only two AAA batteries, right?

There I sat in my recliner, my cat Gracie looking on intently (trusting little soul) while I was reading the directions and thinking that I really needed to try this thing out on a flesh & blood moving target.  I must admit I thought about zapping Gracie (for a fraction of a second) and then thought better of it. She is such a sweet cat. But, if I was going to give this thing to my wife to protect herself against a mugger, I did want some assurance that it would work as advertised.  Am I wrong?

So, there I sat in a pair of shorts and a tank top with my reading glasses perched delicately on the bridge of my nose, directions in one hand, Taser in the other. The directions said that a one-second burst would shock and disorient your assailant, a two-second burst was supposed to cause muscle spasms and a major loss of bodily control; and a three-second burst would purportedly make your assailant flop on the ground like a fish out of water. Any burst longer than three seconds would be wasting the batteries.

All the while I’m looking at this little device measuring about 5″ long, less than 3/4 inch in circumference (loaded with two itsy, bitsy AAA batteries); pretty cute really, and thinking to myself, ‘no possible way!’

What happened next is almost beyond description, but I’ll do my best.

I’m sitting there alone, Gracie looking on with her head cocked to one side so as to say, ‘Don’t do it stupid.’ I was reasoning that a one second burst from such a tiny lil ole thing couldn’t hurt all that bad. I decided to give myself a one second burst just for the heck of it.

I touched the prongs to my naked thigh, pushed the button, and…

HOLY MOTHER OF GOD AND WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION. WHAT THE… !?

I’m pretty sure Hulk Hogan ran in through the side door, picked me up in the recliner, and then body slammed us both on the carpet, over and over and over again. I vaguely recall waking up on my side in the fetal position, with tears in my eyes, body soaking wet, both nipples on fire, testicles nowhere to be found, with my left arm tucked under my body in the oddest position, and tingling in my legs!

The cat was making meowing sounds I had never heard before, clinging to a picture frame hanging above the fireplace, obviously in an attempt to avoid getting slammed by my body flopping all over the living room.

Note:

If you ever feel compelled to ‘mug’ yourself with a Taser, one note of caution: There is NO such thing as a one second burst when you zap yourself! You will not let go of that thing until it is dislodged from your hand by a violent thrashing about on the floor! A three second burst would be considered conservative!

A minute or so later (I can’t be sure, as time was a relative thing at that point), I collected my wits (what little I had left), sat up and surveyed the landscape.

•       My bent reading glasses were on the mantel of the fireplace.
•       The recliner was upside down and about 8 feet or so from where it originally was.
•       My triceps, right thigh and both nipples were still twitching.
•       My face felt like it had been shot up with Novocain, and my bottom lip weighed 88 lbs.
•       I had no control over the drooling.
•       Apparently I had crapped in my shorts, but was too numb to know for sure, and my sense of smell was gone.
•       I saw a faint smoke cloud above my head, which I believe came from my hair.

I’m still looking for my testicles and I’m offering a significant reward for their safe return!

PS: My wife can’t stop laughing about my experience, loved the gift and now regularly threatens me with it!

If you think education is difficult, try being stupid!


A nice walk

The sun is shining bright in South Carolina today and I took a long walk with my wife and my dog.  We have done that two days in a row and I must say it gives me a glimmer of hope that spring will be here soon.