Tag Archives: Pittsfield Massachusetts

We Are the Choices We Make

WSM(15)From my earliest days, I knew what I wanted to do in life. Drive a car, fly a plane and be a disc jockey.

I know, they don’t seem like big hairy audacious life goals, but to an eight year old, they were.

Disc Jockey

You might be surprised to learn that the goal of becoming a professional disc jockey on an AM radio station came first. I actually had to have my mom drive me to the radio station and pick me up after my shift and I’m sure it was a kick for both of my parents to hear their youngest son on the radio.

My mother was a radio listener. My father never was.

Driver’s License

By the time I got my driver’s license and was graduating from high school, my radio work had earned me enough money to buy my first car and head off to college.

My course of study in college was in physics and education. I was on the path to becoming a teacher. My parents didn’t feel that becoming a full-time disc jockey was a career with any future and wanted me to have a college degree and a career I could fall back on.

While pursuing my undergraduate degree, I worked to get an FCC license for an FM radio station for my college and became the first general manager of WJJW 91.1FM. Between classes I DJ’d on my college radio station, and on weekends, holidays and summers, earned money working in professional radio.

I never had a student loan and between my radio work and playing a trombone in professional marching and concert bands, I not only paid for my college education but saved some money too.

1968 was when minimum wage paid the most money per hour in the history of the minimum wage law in America. You can’t do what I did on minimum wage today.

Airborne

Flying a plane wouldn’t happen until 17-years later. I was promoted to general manager of WIIN-AM/WFPG-FM in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The previous general manager had worked out a trade deal with our local airlines, which also provided our news/talk AM planeradio station with local traffic reports during beach season. When I took over the job, everything was already in place for flying lessons and I took advantage of the arrangement and learned to fly.

Soloing a plane over the South Jersey Shore Beaches in the summer time on the weekends was such a thrill.

Teaching

IMG_3351Whenever people would ask me what I wanted to do next with my life, my answer was always the same, teach. Yes, I wanted to teach at a college or university the very profession that I had spent my entire working life doing, radio.

When Clear Channel was doing major RIFs (Reduction In Force) in 2009, I one day found myself with a surprise visit from my Regional Vice President. For the past year, I had spent being told who I needed to terminate next in my radio stations and I knew this time it was me. It was the worst year in radio I ever had.

The good news was, I saw in Radio Ink that Western Kentucky University was looking for a broadcast professor to teach sales, management, history and other radio/media courses. The position perfectly described my background and because of my two college degrees, both in education, I knew I had found the final path of my professional life.

I moved to Kentucky. Helped Dan Vallie to create the KBA/WKU Radio Talent Institute and over the course of seven years did research on the future of radio, along with creating this very blog, that I’ve been writing weekly for over five years.

Disc Jockey, Second Act

Before retiring from the university, Joe Limardi, then operations manager for WSM 650AM in Nashville, invited me to come to Music City and do a radio shift on The Air IMG_2368Castle of the South. Joe Limardi had been a guest professional broadcaster in my Capstone Class at WKU and it was during his lectures with my students that I learned that Joe had grown up listening to me on the radio back in our hometown of Pittsfield, Massachusetts on WBEC 1420AM. Joe always thought of me as a disc jockey and little did I know I inspired him to pursue a radio career.

IMG_2352I had not been behind the mic on a radio station in 35-years. I had a 10-minute lesson in how to run the control board from Joe and then was off on my own to do the next four hours on The Legend WSM.

Soloing on WSM that day was a thrill, one I had not had since my flight instructor got out of the plane one day and said, “Take it around by yourself.”

But my disc jockey second act didn’t end that day, I continue to do a VT midday shift (EST) on WMEX-LP out of Rochester, NH and heard worldwide on TuneIn Radio.

One thing is clear, we are the choices we make.

Don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t do it.

 

 

 

 

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Celebrating A Reunion

PHS 45th Reunion InviteIt was 45 years ago that I graduated from high school.  It’s really hard to believe that much time has passed, but this weekend I’m back in my hometown of Pittsfield, Massachusetts – in the “Heart of the Berkshires” – celebrating that teenage milestone.

This invitation has been on my refrigerator for months.  The anticipation has been building steadily and now it’s almost over.

Friday night we all went to the wonderfully restored Colonial Theater to see Mary Poppins.  Saturday night was our big reunion dinner/dance.  This morning we will meet one more time for Sunday brunch before we depart, all hoping we’ll be able to make it to the 50th reunion in 2020.

2020 is the year that commercial RADIO will become 100 years old.DT WBEC (1970s)  I was fortunate to start in radio back in 1967 while just starting high school.  I earned my 3rd class Radio Telephone FCC Operators License in February 1968 allowing me to professionally start working in radio shortly thereafter.  Radio would help me pay for my college education; bachelors and masters degrees.

My first radio station was WBEC – AM1420 in Pittsfield.

I had visions of being a big time disc jockey working at one of the major market 50,000-watt clear channel signal radio stations like WBZ in Boston or WLS in Chicago or WABC in New York.

But that never happened.  Instead I would move into radio sales and very quickly into radio station management.  It is in this senior management position that I would spend over thirty years of my radio life.

WSM(15)But never give up on your dreams.  Because when I began teaching at Western Kentucky University’s School of Journalism & Broadcasting, I invited radio & TV professionals into my capstone class.  One of those professionals, the operations manager & program director of Nashville’s legendary 650AM – WSM invited me to be a guest disc jockey on this 50,000-watt clear channel signal radio station.

Those high school dreams really can come true!

For four hours on Sunday, July 13, 2014 I was in the air chair doing “The Dick Taylor Show” on this iconic radio institution.

This weekend we all remembered the good times, like the price of a gallon of gas (35-cents) or the price of a 1st class postage stamp (6-cents).  But 1970 was also the year that the Beatles broke up and four students were slain by National Guardsmen at Kent State University in Ohio.

The movies featured: M*A*S*H, Patton, Love Story and Airport.PHS 40th Reunion Picture

The record of the year was “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” by the 5th Dimension.  The song of the year was “Games People Play” by Joe South and the album of the year was the self-titled album by Blood, Sweat & Tears.

Five years ago, we all stepped out of the dinner/dance hall for a group photo.  We looked FABULOUS!

We’re Baby Boomers.  A generation that was so big that the city had to handle our class size over three high schools – Pittsfield High, Taconic High and St. Joseph’s High.

We may have been separate back then and even competitive, but today we celebrate as one big high school class.

We’re the high school Class of 1970.

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Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio, Sales