I could say that I learned more in the first six months working for Uncle Bobby at his little radio station just east of the Rocky Mountains than I learned in four years of college. I could say that easily, but the larger truth is that I learned more about business in the first couple weeks at K--- Radio than I've ever learned at any school.
The work side of life was going great. I was barely making more than minimum wage and I was living in a tin can owned by my boss and all I wanted to do was work-- nothing better than that, right? My first week or so on the air was kind of rough-- I guess I was a little short on confidence. I was doing morning drive. It's called that because it's the time that people are sitting in traffic listening to the radio. But I was broadcasting to people who would have to travel for hours to find a traffic jam. More cattle were being driven than cars in my little audience. I started to loosen up by week two and by the second month I thought I was doing well enough to start thinking about a bigger market. But I had told the owner that I was in for six months minimum so I settled in and started having fun playing the hits.
The station was outside of town in a white concrete block building with the call letters and frequency painted in red and black on the front. To call it a station logo would be to set the graphic arts back several centuries. Inside the building was a tiny reception area, station owner Uncle Bobby's office, another smaller office for the sales manager, the control room, and a production room for cutting spots (recording commercials) that was the size of a walk-in closet. There was also a record library that doubled as a room for the announcers to sit down and use the phone. Just that and a unisex bathroom. There was a coffee pot in the reception area and if you wanted a can of Coke or a pack of crackers the service station across the highway had vending machines. Ah, show business.
So there I was. A castaway on the prairie makin' with the snappy patter, weather, news, and sports between "Time In A Bottle" and "Kung Fu Fighting" five days a week between 6 and 10 AM and Saturdays between 10 and 2. At some point during those first couple of months it dawned on me-- I wasn't getting laid. Not even close.
To make celibacy tougher, I had time on my hands. I'd get off the air at 10 AM and sit in the music library or cut spots until lunch. I usually went to one of two local diners for lunch, ate alone, and waited to glimpse a woman who might be silly enough to hang out with the local morning guy who went by the on-air name of Billy The Kid. (That name was Uncle Bobby's idea, not mine by the way.) Nobody fitting the description ever came through the door. I dreaded heading out to my dismal trailer in the evening. Luckily I had to go to bed early to get up for my 6 AM shift. On Sundays I'd just drive all over the area taking photographs and hiking around.
One afternoon I asked the station owner if there was more work I could do. I was thinking maybe I could do something for Bobby at another station-- he owned two others in a couple of small towns a couple hours away. But he suggested something I never even considered-- selling station advertising. I immediately agreed to give it a try completely out of the lack of anything else to do in the afternoons. The decision changed my life-- not only because it altered my career path but because the third business I called on as a spot peddler was a gift shop run by Pamela Scoggins.