Helaine and I have known each other for twenty five years. I wish I remembered the exact date. I don’t. I know it was around this time of year, sometime in mid-July.
I was working at WIFI – a horrendous top-40 station in Philadelphia. Though owned by the movie chain, “General Cinema,” it seemed more like a mom and pop operation. The equipment was tired and in a semi-constant state of disrepair.
On the air, we used every gimmick possible to try and magnify what meager ratings we had. We even ‘kited’ time checks to try and inflate the amount of time people said they were listening!
Though a true blue radio fanatic, I was getting burned out by my time at WIFI. The final straw was getting calls from nine and ten year olds asking me to play, “We don’t need no education.”
I felt, single handedly, I was leading American society into some sort of social abyss. I made the decision to leave radio and get into television.
Though thirty, I was very young looking. I had only begun to shave on a regular basis. Here’s my 1980 driver’s license. You make the call.
I took everything I’d ever done in front of a camera (and this included telethon appearances, an Evening Magazine audition in Philadelphia, even “Popeye’s 50th Birthday Party”) and started searching for a TV job. On this particular July day the call came in¹.
I was incredibly excited. Not only would I be leaving WIFI, I’d also be starting a new life a television… albeit in Buffalo.
My air shift ended at 10:00 AM. I ran out of the studio, toward the parking lot² where I’d meet some friends and tell them the good news.
To exit the WIFI studio, you opened the door, turned right, walked down a hallway and then around the edge of another studio, making a full 180° turn! As I rounded that corner I ran into a woman who had just started working in the promotion department.
When I say “ran into,” I am being literal. I ran into her and knocked her to the ground! That was my first contact with Helaine!
We saw each other a few times, but I was exiting Philadelphia in a few weeks. I was a guy who tried to avoid commitment during normal times… much less now, as I packed my stuff.
OK – I’m a jerk. I’m a fool. For all intents and purposes, I should have lost her to someone smarter and more mature. But, I didn’t.
I left Philly and didn’t see Helaine for another year and a half. I’ll tell how we got together some other time. It’s an interesting story with me, again, playing the part of the jerk!
The story you’ve read has been told a zillion times. It needs no embellishment, because it’s totally true.
As it turns out, it might be the best day of my life. The day my career changed and, more importantly, the day I met the woman I’d love for the rest of my life.
Maybe this is why I love the summer and why July is my favorite month. I bet Helaine knows the exact date.
¹ – The call came from WGR-TV’s program director, Farrell Meisel. I can never thank Farrell enough for that first opportunity. He took a great chance, considering I had no experience in TV at all. Farrell and I are still really good friends, though I can no longer work for his TV station as I don’t speak Arabic!
² – WIFI’s studio were in a mid-rise office complex in Bala Cynwyd, PA (yes, that’s how it’s spelled). In that pre consolidation era, we were in the same building as four other radio stations.