Celebrating 40 Years In Broadcasting
This blog is more about me than anything else so here we go.
This October represents the 40th anniversary of “Yours Truly” being in over the air broadcasting. The time has really flown by! I first started falling in love with television and radio at the age of five when I would get up early and watch the test patterns on TV so that I wouldn’t miss the cartoons! I still get kidded about that today by my family. As a teenager, my high school in Dallas had a closed circuit radio station and I wormed my way into. My parents thought that the idea of being a radio disc jockey was horrid. At age 18, in 1972, I set off for Baylor University as a freshman majoring in radio/TV. Baylor had an FM station, KWBU, manned by students but mostly upperclassmen. Again, I wormed my way into doing the 10pm newscast each weekday.
One night I was struggling a bit on the air and stumbled throughout the entire newscast. Needless to say, I was unhappy. Thinking that the board operator had turned off my microphone, I uttered a profane word (will not divulge which one) that went over the airwaves! When I realized what happened, I thought, “I’m going to be fired and kicked off this campus!” The next day, I reported to the station manager (who was a faculty member) and told him what happened. He took it better than I thought, but I was placed on suspension for a couple of weeks without pay. Imagine, a Baylor student cussing on Baylor Radio! Surprised I wasn’t expelled from the University and run out of Waco! Today, most over the air broadcasting companies have “no tolerance” policies on the broadcast of profane or indecent language or programming to comply with FCC rules and regulations and avoid stiff monetary penalties.
But like a phoenix who had crashed and burned at age 18, I rose from the ashes.
Shortly thereafter, the 10p-12mn disc jockey left and all of a sudden there was an opening. The program director, Larry Barber, needed someone who knew classical music. I had studied classical piano in Dallas for seven years and knew the music and composers. Plus I could sound like I was in a tuxedo sitting in some world renowned auditorium, like the late Milton Cross from Carnegie Hall and the New York Metropolitan Opera. I auditioned and got the job. So each night from 10pm-12mn I was spinning the classical hits from Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach! On weekends, I would fill in playing Top 40 music. The two songs I remember getting played a lot of “Honky Cat” by Elton John and “Summer Breeze” by Seals and Crofts.
I only stayed at Baylor that semester. While Baylor was and is a fine school, I didn’t fit there. The other jocks at KWBU were constantly making fun of me, telling me I was stupid, and making my life miserable. My roommate, a chemistry major who was a sophomore, couldn’t stand me either. I felt hated by everyone I came into contact at Baylor. In December of that year, I made the move to SMU for the spring semester 1973. When I informed the KWBU staff, they were stunned. They said they didn’t want me to leave, that they liked me, they needed me, and that they wanted me to launch a hard rock format on the station, similar to today’s music you hear locally on Clear Channel’s KEGL-FM, 97.1 The Eagle. While I was flattered, the wheels were in motion for me to return to Dallas and SMU. But after 40 years, I now look on that semester as one that taught me so much about life and getting along with people. Who knows what would have happened if I had stayed in Waco but what happened after I got to SMU is a story for another day and another blog.
See you next time.
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