Growing up, there was never a question what I’d do for a living. I was going to be on radio. And, in fact, that’s just what I did for 11 years.
Like so much else in life, radio was often frustrating. It was also a nearly free forum to say what I wanted when I wanted to. What I wanted to say wasn’t particularly pithy or earth shattering – that didn’t matter. I was free to be an ass or silly or smart.
Moving to TV in 1980 was a logical step. My radio career had probably gone as far as it was going. Even though it was the right thing to do, leaving didn’t remove my love of radio.
Tonight, I got to go out to dinner with a couple of radio guys. I think they share my sensibility about what radio’s purpose is. And, like I was, they’re probably frustrated from time-to-time by what it’s become.
I went to college with Floyd Wright. He had a different name then, but he’s the same guy. He’s much too thin to be on radio, a medium that normally attracts a more corpulent corps of workers.
Even in college radio Floyd was great on-the-air, because he had a quick and unusually mature sense of skepticism and irony. He also had ‘pipes.’ I’m jealous of anyone with ‘pipes.’
I met Pete Salant more recently, maybe 10-15 years ago. At the time he owned and ran a small AM radio station¹ in my little town. It was just another stop in a long radio career that including on-air and programming work plus years as a consultant.
I’m not sure, but it’s probable Pete didn’t hire me when I sent a tape to him at WYNY in New York. It’s OK. There is a long list of people who didn’t hire me. In fact, there’s a long list of people who didn’t hire me at that particular station!
Pete’s also partially responsible for “Nine,” the fictional audio history of WVWA, Pound Ridge, NY. It is an iconic snapshot of radio’s coming of age a few decades ago. It is required listening for radio people.
Oh – Floyd works for Pete at WWYZ, aka Country 92.5 in Hartford.
Dinner ran over an hour and a half. If I didn’t have to get back to work it could have run much longer. Our lives are interconnected through radio and through the people we know, and know of. In other words, there were lots of people and situations to trash and praise… mostly trash.
I’m sure Margo, our 20-something waitress, had no idea what was going on at our table. She could definitely tell we were having a good time.
We’ve got to do this more often.
¹ – When I say small in reference to Pete’s former station, I mean low power. His station’s transmitter drew less power than the three way light bulb in my family room. In spite of the station’s relative power, I was a dedicated listener long before I met him.