Thursday, December 09, 2010

How Did I Get Here?

When I was a kid, St. Louis was the big city. It is where my cousins have lived their entire lives. My mother and father honeymooned here at Sportman's park. There was shooting that night in the ballpark. Yikes.When we would drive here from Ava or East Moline, my mother would invariably miss the exit on the "freeway" and then panic would ensue. Especially if my grandmother was in the car with us. "We're going to get killed on this highway, sis." That's when I would lean over into the front seat and casually explain to go to the next exit, turn left, then left again, and we'd be heading the opposite way. One time that happened and when my mom got to the next exit, then followed my instructions on getting back on the highway, she would turn left instead of right, not thinking that we were coming from the...opposite...way. My love affair with KSHE began in 1973 on one of my first road trips alone. I stayed with my cousins and they had a station that played "Cowgirl in the Sand" by Neil Young. Touchdown! I started getting serious about my love for radio at 16. My sister in law at the time introduced me to someone who taught at The Academy of Radio and Television in Bettendorf Iowa. I walked in with her, got an audition, passed it and then realized after two months I couldn't afford it on my meager restaurant salary. 3 years after that I was enrolled and on a fast track to getting in the business six months later at KFMH in Muscatine Iowa, a station that had no playlist. Fast forward to me taking the afternoon job at KSHE in 1985. Now, I'm in the newspaper business and still residing in Kirkwood (11 miles southwest of downtown). I have thought many times that life evens itself out. I have been truly blessed with a career that lasted 33 years and not one day was spent working. And I have lived in a city that used to fill me with awe when I was a kid. I am also sad that many of my relatives have departed this Earth early in my life. I lost my dad at 21, my mother at 32 and my dear brother at 37. God has provided me a great life but, I haven't had many of the previous generation around long enough to enjoy it. That's OK. I think that's the way it sometimes works out, and looking back on all of this wonderful (and sometimes tragic) roller coaster of a ride, I still the hell did I get here?

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Where were you?

I was having a conversation today at work with someone who was not even alive when John Lennon was murdered. Apparently, he was listening to the radio this morning and was curious about the significance of Lennon's murder. I tried to explain to him that in my generation, the two "where were you" moments happened on November 22nd 1963 and on December 8th, 1980. I would throw 9/11 in there (as it was HIS where were you moment) but that happened so much later in my life. Maybe I was used to shocking news but even though 9/11 was a horrific act carried out by cowards, it didn't effect me like the two previous incidents.
John Bonham of Led Zeppelin died in September of 1980 right when the band was getting ready to go out on tour. In early December, Robert Plant announced that the band was done. No more Led Zep. I was doing the 6pm-10pm shift at KY 102 at that time. Since Led Zep was done, we activated our own tribute by playing Led Zeppelin's complete catalog from A-Z.
I had just finished my shift. It was pretty unmemorable. I think a caller bitched about the Zeppelin tribute and we had a nice discussion. It was very cold out that night. I know that because I was driving my 72 VW bug with a marginal (non existent) heater. I lived not far from the station on Belleview in Kansas City which was one of the main thoroughfares in the city. I got home in about ten minutes and waiting for me there was someone who I had fallen madly in love with very quickly. Bree has been the subject of a couple of previous posts. She has turned out to be one of my true loves in the very short time we spent together. We were inseparable at this time. Since I worked the night shift, I ate at very odd times. Bree had called earlier and wondered what I wanted to eat for dinner, I told her and she prepared a feast with a big steak and a baked potato to be ready at about 10:15. I got home, kissed her, took off my coat and went outside because the dog we had got together was getting ready to do his doody. We got the dog a couple of days before and I held a "dog naming" contest on the air. ("Feedback" was the winner and the name so suited the dog.) While I was standing outside waiting for the mutt to do his duty, someone horrible must've happened because when I went back into the house, Bree was crying. What the heck? There was a football game on between the Dolphins and the Patriots and I didn't think she was into football all that much."What's wrong?" I asked. Through the sobs and tears she blurted out "John Lennon's been shot." "WHAT?" I said. And it was just about that time that Howard Cosell announced to the world..."an unspeakable tragedy has just been confirmed by abc news...". I don't think I heard what he said next. The first thing I did was call the KY hotline. It was answered by the Beatle expert at the station, Jon Hart. "I just heard" he said and he wondered if we should continue the Led Zeppelin countdown. "Do what you think is right." Not waiting on anybody, he ditched the programming and we played Beatles/Lennon music for days. It was the correct call. The next night was the most difficult show I've ever done. I couldn't stop crying. I was pro, dammit, but this was different. I grew up with the Beatles, they have composed the soundtrack of my life. I almost felt like John was my big brother and now my "big brother" was dead. Not just dead but gunned down, cold blooded in front of the place he called home in front of his wife by a "fan". A fan? How could this despicable piece of shit be a fan? The facts were coming to light at a staggering pace. Remember, this was 1980, no internet, no instant news. While doing my show the following night, I received a phone call from the pastor at the All Souls Unitarian church not far from the plaza. "Would you be interested in saying a few words in John's memory tomorrow? We are having a candle light vigil at the church. It would be like delivering a eulogy." He said. Not quite really knowing what I was getting into, I agreed. I didn't own a suit and had very few nice clothes. (Hey, I was a "DJ", what did you expect?) So Bree and I ravaged through my closet and I came up with what is pictured here. I don't think anyone really cared what I was dressed in. I had all my notes on index cards about what I wanted to say. When we arrived at the church, it was a standing room only crowd, it was so crowded in there, I could hardly breathe. On a side note, when we walked in, everyone turned around to see us. I say see us, but in reality it was her that everyone wanted to see. She was like that, a "head turner" as my mom called her. As we walked up to the podium, Bree turned to me and said..."do you really need those notes? You should go up there and speak from the heart and I think you'll be surprised at how well you will do." I told her she was nuts and she just smiled and kissed me on the cheek. I threw away the notes and did 40 minutes from the heart. It may have been one of my best speeches ever. I know it sounds strange and it felt strange too. I was filled with things to say and they kept popping into my head, point after point. It wasn't me talking. I finished the speech to a standing ovation and Bree looking up at me with an incredible sparkle in her eye. I met Yoko many years later and told her the story. "John was with you," she said. When she said that, I felt an incredible rush and just about kissed her. I met Yoko in her hotel room at the Chesterfield Doubletree Inn in 1987. She was travelling around the country displaying John's artwork and the person who ran the gallery knew of my affection for the Beatles because I did a segment on KSHE everyday at 4pm called "The Afternoon Beatles". That's where I would play some tunes and actualities from them. She was a fan and gave me first rites to Yoko. I found her to be an incredibly sweet, charming and completely devoid of the "bitch' label that was attached to her. "John fell out of love with the Beatles and in love with me. Why is that so hard for people to understand?" Why indeed? She sent me a Christmas card every year at the station until I left in 1998. I wonder if she is still sending the cards? Bree was killed in a car accident in 1995 as she moved to California and married her first love not long after we split 1981. We still have a mutual friend who has her kids as Facebook friends. They are beautiful.

You still fill up my senses.
And I still miss you.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The First Time I Ever Heard.....Kansas

While finishing up high school, I did a number of odd jobs. I worked at Miller Container in Milan, I sold Channel 100 (Home Box Office) and I worked at a TEAM electronics store which was right across 42nd Avenue from my house, which made it convenient. I really had no selling skills, but quickly adapted my greeting to one where each question could be answered by a question. "Do you have an lower end models?" "What would you consider lower end?" Etc. This quality has become very important to me now, as I teach my people to do the same, answer a question with a question and you can find out many details that you never knew. Every once in a while, we would get promo copies of records and one day, we got this weird looking album on a label called "Kirschner". What? Never heard of this label, but certainly knew who Don Kirschner through his late night TV show, an alternative to the sometimes overly poppy "Midnight Special". Our job? Sell stereos. How? Put something that "sounds" good through the speakers. When I say something that "sounds" good, that's sonically speaking. Now a particular musical genre may sound "good" to you, but if the recording is inferior, it won't "sound" good. Not knowing anyone or any song on this LP, I think it stayed behind the counter a couple of weeks, until we got real busy one day. While "Crime of the Century" by Supertramp (the ultimate sonically good sounding LP of 1974) was in use, I reached behind the counter and grabbed this weird looking LP from these guys from Kansas. Closing m self and the customers in the sound proof room, we went off to check out the latest equipment available and on went the Kansas album. I accidentally flipped the LP to side two where the song "The Pilgrimage" immediately came blaring through the speakers and literally just about knocked us down. I was not sure what this music was, I just knew I had never heard something like that before and I wasn't sure I liked it. So, after the rush died down, I taped the LP on to one of our 8 tracks and took it home. After clearing my head later, I sat down and heard "Can I Tell You" and "Lonely Wind". Wow! What dynamics and depth. I got into the longer, more progressive stuff , too and quickly became a fan. They played at a very small venue in the Quad Cities and there might have been 50 people in the bar that night. They debuted a song called"Song For America" and again, I was blown away at how tight they were. I called them the Yes of the midwest and that's what they sounded like to me. When "Song For America" and "Masque" came out, I still thought they had talent but they plateaued at that point. I knew if they were going to go somewhere and be somewhere big, they needed that ONE song, that song that would push them past the midwest and on album number four, they found it. When "THE" song came on the radio for the first time, I knew it was them and I knew that was going to be THE song that did it. I was right. It sounded like nothin else on the radio at that time. I had just started my radio career when their big song happened and I told the story of how I "found" them. Someone called and said they loved that story. I remember telling the story to Steve Walsh later in my career and he seemed impressed (Steve was a very difficult interview). In early 74, at TEAM electronics in East Moline Illinois is where and how I first heard Kansas

Friday, September 10, 2010

My First Interview

For those who don't know...being in radio was all I ever wanted to do. At a very early age, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, the answer always took the oldsters by surprise..."I want to be on the radio."
I was given the first opportunity in Ava, Mo. at 15, reading the news. I nailed it and then the radio heroin slowly but surely took hold. I went to radio school while going to high school (the same radio school that spawned Spike O'dell, who retired from WGN). In between my sophomore and jun
ior year at United Township High School in East Moline Illinois, I got the opportunity to "play" radio.
UTHS was so big, it had two campuses, one for the 9th and 10th grades and the big newer campus was reserved
for the "big kids." When I made the jump, I immediately sought out the journalism teacher who was the only teacher at UT that had hair longer than mine. A couple of us "radio heads" started a club for future broadcasters, the only left thing to do was start a radio station. (yes, that's me, third from left)

One of us had knowledge about electronics, one was up on the government, another was a programming nut (me) and the other guys were just there because it was fun. We petitioned the FCC for a low power license and got started that summer on procuring radio equipment that the local stations could
a.) donate or
b.) throw away.
At the start of 11th grade (September 1972), we had just received word that the FCC had granted us a license for us to broadcast with a one watt tower. Somehow, our technical guy fashioned a tower out of a CB antenna and got permission to mount it on the roof. You could hear the station in the parking lot and on a real good day, in my bedroom which was about 3/4 of a mile away.
The first thing we did was to write all of the record companies asking if they would send us free albums.(I learned that during my travels through various stations in the area.) Sure enough, RCA and MCA sent us copies of albums they wanted us to play. In one bundle from MCA under the new "Groundhogs" and "Wishbone Ash" albums was this group of long haired hard nosed looking guys named Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Their first album of course was "Pronounced
", released in 1973. We auditioned it and thought these guys had some talent. Plus, there was an 8 minute song on there that had to be good, right?
A few months passed and while listening to the radio, I heard that these guys were coming through Davenport, opening for someone else I had just discovered named ZZ Top. I wrote the record company asking if I could get an interview with the guys in LS, explaining that we had made an anthem out of Freebird, we played the song every Friday at dismissal time, it had become a tradition to kick off the weekend.
About a week later, over the loudspeaker, I was informed there was a phone call for me at the principals office. Of course, I thought it was my mom or someone in my family but it was the national rep for MCA explaining to me the rules of the interview. After the show and only for ten minutes, I would get "someone" in the band. The "press passes" would be available at the box office window.
So, with notepad and cassette recorder in hand, I went to the show, was absolutely destroyed by how they blew ZZ off the stage. It wasn't close. Those five tough looking guys just smoked.
I waited around back stage after the show, feeling pretty large about my "press pass" and waited, and waited, and waited.
A stage door opened and out came Ronnie VanZandt, not more than 21 or 22 at the time. Still barefoot, he seemed pretty reluctant to talk.
"So, let me get this straight, you have a high school radio station?" "Yes, sir" I replied. "And you broadcast?" "Yes sir, we even get out to the parking lot." He laughed very hard at that and seemed to be a bit more interested.
We chatted about a number of things..growing up in a town on the wrong side of the tracks...what was a lynyrd skynyrd ( a gym teacher they hated so they called him that)...he was pissed off at Neil Young about his songs "Alabama" and "Southern Man" which made the south seem like rednecks...musical we both hated Nixon... At the end of the interview (which lasted 30 minutes) someone came and got him and he seemed bummed to have to quit. "So you have a radio station in high school that broadcasts over the air? In Jacksonville we never heard of anything like that. How cool." He shook my hand, gave me a hug and was genuinely impressed that a kid from a high school radio station was the only media outlet who wanted to interview the band, no one else did.
"We love you guys, when you come back maybe you can play at my school?" "Sure, kid, be happy to", he replied.
Before he left, I said I had one more question for him..."sure kid, what?" "Why do you perform barefoot?" I asked. "So I can feel the stage burn" he answered. Then he was gone.
I thought Skynyrd's first two album were filthy, nasty, take no prisoners rock and roll. They got sloppy with the next two but "Street Survivors" to me, was/is a masterpiece.
It was 1976 when I got into the business for good, long after "Sweet Home Alabama" made these guys household names. I will never forget the kindness of Ronnie VanZandt to put up with a 17 year old punk kid who was just looking to help fulfill his dream.
While working in Muscatine, Iowa in the fall of 1977, we all got the news about the plane crash. I pulled out my cassette from that interview and played it. I realized at that time how much I sucked in the interview, but no one seemed to care. I have only cried twice on the air and that was the first time.

My next interview, in 1978, was with Harry Chapin.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

So Long, my friend

I woke up this morning, getting ready for a vacation north to Chicago and on to Lake Geneva, where my parents used to go drink "highballs" when I was a kid. While I love my job, it is very stressful hitting numbers month after month. So, before the busy period heats up, it's off to cooler pastures. After being up late tinkering with the internet station, I woke late to devastating news. One of the true giants in my life passed in San Jose due to a failing heart. His heart was in such bad shape that he had to have a triple bypass just to get his heart healthy enough to handle a new, transplanted one. He didn't make it. I met Rich and Lisa through an old girlfriend. That girlfriend and I conducted the most tempestuous relationship I have ever known (her story is a number of posts down). Passion, anger, love and hate, all wrapped into one. She was the only woman in my life who ever hit me (actually gave me a cauliflower ear, she hit me so hard). During this relationship, I moved in with Rich and his girlfriend Lisa to a nice, porched duplex on Wyoming street in Kansas City. The porch over looked Roanoke Park and it was a funky, nice place for two guys our age. Even at that time, Rich had health trouble as he suffered from juvenile diabetes and once had a seizure that I didn't know how to handle. We moved in on 9/9/81, I remember it because I did a bit that day on the date, being 9 X 9=81. This was also a very strange time in my life because I was addicted to cocaine. Hey, come on, the rent was about $135 a month and my car was paid off. I had more money than I knew what to do with (Robin Williams was right). The weekdays were fine, I'd only do a little, but when the weekends came, I checked out. The girl and I split up, which propelled my usage of cocaine and now, women, to all time heights. Hey man, I was the king of nighttime radio and I was a star. Everybody wanted to be like me and everyone knew me. I used the power like very few before me. After having about the sixth different woman to the house in three weeks, Lisa and Rich finally said ..."enough." At 26, I was acting like I was 19. They had careers and passions in their life that were so diametrically opposed to mine. They needed to work/study and I needed to party and fuck. Lisa was in training to become a doctor (which she did) and Rich was developing an incredible passion for computers (which he parlayed into a great career). In 1981, he told me something about this thing called the "internet" that would revolutionize the way we did business. He also was following this upstart company called Microsoft and, if I remember correctly, starting buying stock when it was available gobs of it at a time. Rich also had cockatiels, lots of them. They were kinda dirty and loud, but they were also very cool. He trained them to do and say things at his command. Rich and Lisa saved my life. They walked up to me and basically saw me much differently than I saw me and proceeded to tell me about about it. Lisa called me out on the way I treated women and made me know in no uncertain terms it wouldn't be tolerated anymore. I tried to hid the women as I slept on the porch in the summertime, because I would get off work at 10pm and didn't want to disturb them when I would come in late stumbling and fumbling to get naked with someone I had just met. I remember those days well. Not long after that, I decided, for some reason, to take a job in Denver, leaving the new girlfriend (whom I was crazy about) and Rich and Lisa in somewhat of a lurch, because, like a lot of things back then, the decision was made on impulse. See, children of alcoholics go out of their way to destroy the things that mean something because we're not sure how to handle happiness and contentment, we don't know what it's like to be happy. It's a foreign subject for us. I went to Denver because I was pissed at the management of KY 102. That's it, that's the reason. Nice work, Randy, way to drop a nuclear bomb on everyone. After returning to KC in about six months because I knew I made the wrong decision, (Skid Roadie was hired as my replacement, I think that turned out pretty well), I reconnected with the girlfriend but didn't really get to see Rich and Lisa much, they both were on to other things. Engaged for 8 years, Rich and Lisa decided to tie the knot at Lourdes Church in St. Louis in October 1985. I believe the day they got married was the "..go crazy, folks, go crazy.." day. I danced with the tempestuous one that day, then never saw her again. It was a great closure. Rich had such a kind heart and soul and you could get him to laugh easily. You could certainly tell how much these two loved each other and I think secretly, I was looking for that too, but I had no idea where to find it like they did. We lived together for just over a year but I was a different person leaving Wyoming street than I was when I got there. It took someone of Rich and Lisa's temperament to slap me out of my adolescence at 26. We met up a few times through the years but we reconnected guessed it, Facebook. Rich lived a full life and he was loved completely by a beautiful, talented, brilliant woman. It's what we all search for. He found it in bountiful ways and filled his life with so much cool stuff. I think he always knew that he would not live to be an old man. There was always this underlying feel with him. I think he wanted to do as much as he could do in this life. He knew it, so did Lisa and I knew it, too. I'll miss you Rich and all you taught me. I'll miss you mostly for throwing me a life raft as I wandered into waters that were much too treacherous and swift. Thanks for standing up to me and forcing me to confront my demons. I'll never forget you. Rest in peace, my good friend, the fight is over.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

East Moline

The death of one of East Moline's legendary figures today got me thinking about the town that I spent many formative years in. There are five cities in the Quad Cities and for the most part, East Moline is the one left out. Yup, you have Davenport, Rock Island, Moline and...Bettendorf or East Moline? The consensus is Bettendorf, although years ago, Bettendorf was the little pip squeak, not considered part of the mix at all. What happened? In all honesty, East Moline was always considered "the other side of the tracks" along with, to a certain extent Rock Island. I think we had the largest amount of blacks and in East Moline's case, hispanics, too. Horrors! East Moline was a factory town, with John Deere, International Harvester, McLaughlin Body and other manufacturing places that at one time employed anyone who wanted to work. East Moline was considered a great place to move to if you wanted or needed a job. I actually met my first DJ there and I thought it was so cool to shake his hand. (I later worked with him KC which was a bizarre twist of fate). If you went to McKinley or Hoffman grade schools, the other kids in Glenview or UT knew one thing, the wrong side of the tracks in a town that was on the wrong side of the tracks. McKinley was the Campbell's Island kids and Hoffman was the projects. I went to Hillcrest, then McKinley (thanks mom and dad). The high school was huge. United Township High School. UTHS. That made us Panthers different, because all of the public high schools in the Quad Cities were named after their city. Not us. We're UNITED Township, mahfuggers!!! Take that, Moline! Except in the early part of the school year, when it got really hot and people noticed that we were all different and pointed it out with less than a political correctness. Every year it seemed at one time or another during the first couple of weeks at school, we'd "grab someone who looked different than us and go to the bottom of the pile" then just hang on. When the weather cooled, so did we. The high school was so big, it was housed in two campuses. The freshmen and sophomores occupied north campus ("the prison"), and the "big kids" went to South Campus, which was approximately three miles down the road. The teachers were as diverse as the students. Mr Diaz for American History and Miss Newborne for English. She was about twenty five, black and about six feet tall with legs... Man, it was hard to concentrate on anything she said. She was absolutely stunning, tall and slim. Gah. She wrote in my yearbook ..."to Randy, a guy who always underestimates himself..." Whoa. I "thought" about her a lot and she really took an interest in a kid that was just trying to fit in. One of my good friends was black, one was hispanic and the best kiss I had in high school was from Rosalie Martinez (God, what a wonderful full set of lips, she just swallowed my face....) Why was it called United Township? That's because we took kids from Silvis, Carbon Cliff, Green Rock, Colona, Hampton and other places. None of those destinations would make anyone's top ten on places to live. I also lived on Campbell's (cannibals) Island which was a haven for bad ass dudes who would just as soon whip you just to practice on someone. East Moline was not Bettendorf, that's for sure. We had a bit of a toughness and a bit of an attitude. It's a river town, for Pete's sake. My first marriage was to a girl from Silvis and my virginity was taken in a trailer for crap's sake by a woman older than me (That story is on it's way). That leads me back to my original point. Coach Talley died yesterday and anyone who was there at the time knew what an influence he was. He was the coach from 1964 to 1984. He was the John Wooden of UT. Second place in 1970, fourth in 79 and if a couple of the members of the 74 team hadn't gotten really stupid, he thought that team was his best. We were 28-3, ranked third in the state and right before the tournament, two guys got in trouble and we lost to an 16-11 team in the regionals. That team broke his heart. That was the cool thing about coach, it seemed his team were always ranked. One of the most famous residents of East Moline (Carbon Cliff) was Jude Cole, who has a few hits off his first album in the early nineties. He was taught how to play the guitar from a friend of mine Paul Durry. One of my ex-coworkers married a guy from East Moline, class of 84, exactly ten years behind, who hates going there. I get that. She doesn't know it the way I remember, a vibrant manufacturing town where the guys of my parents generation worked hard in the shops and drank hard. The women stayed at home and raised the kids the best way they could. I have nothing but fond memories of the place. It's a nice place to be from. But, for those of us who worked at (or went to) the Semri Drive In, went to Skateland every damn weekend, ate Franks Pizza, had Mexican food at Adolph's, went to shows at the Col Ballroom or RKO Theatre, had a Hungry Hobo, got ice cream at Whitey's, ate a Maid Rite,worked (or ate) at Harvey's Diner or bowled at Highland Park Bowl, it was, whatever else it was, home. With the passing of Coach Talley, my grip on home is loosened, however slightly.

HEY COACH, where's your crew cut?

His story, and a fine one it is...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Effing Facebook

I got this in my message box today...
August 10 at 12:39am
Hey there Randy! I don't want to sound corny or anything..but, thanks! Remember when your status said "if you could go back 20 years and tell yourself what you know now"..or something like that. Do you remember that status? I replied something or the other about telling myself that just because my birthmother couldn't be the person I wanted her to be didn't mean she didn't care and so on.....well...because of that status...I contacted my birthmother. I wrote her a letter....we've been in contact and started a new relationship ever since! She is actually very ill with Ovarian Cancer but so far, she's winning. They had given her until the 4th of July to live but she surpassed it! What is odd, is that you wrote that status, I answered...I then contemplated on what to do...I prayed...I didn't make church that following Sunday so I watched our church on TV..the sermon that day was about forgiving a parent for leaving them etc...made me think about your status and how I I decided to write her. It just so happens that she found out about the cancer at the same time you put the status up...I don't's like it was a plan or something....I dont know...
Anyway....thank you for this all started with your status and now I have something that I've longed for, for so many years...atleast the beginning of something anyway! You are amazing, even when you don't realize it!

Yeah, I know Facebook's a worthless past time, but dang, as Mr. Adujar said many years ago..."youneverknow"

Sunday, August 08, 2010

THE Band

I was discussing music (what else?)with a friend of mine the other day and we were talking about the "chair" structure in band. How the best players got "first" chair and so on. If you were "fourth" chair, you either had to decide that a)you were going to get real good real fast or b)you weren't going to do be doing this long and the football team needed a manager. The conversation then turned to who would occupy the "chairs" when it came to songwriters. That got me thing.. who would occupy my first "chairs" when it came to songwriters. Thinking that you could have ten "first" chairs...mine would look something like this (subject to change)...

First chair songwriters....

Bruce Springsteen
Bob Dylan
John Fogerty
Elton John-Bernie Taupin
Justin Hayward/John Lodge
Leon Russell
Jackson Browne
Dan Fogelberg
John Prine

How Did Don Draper Die?

I love Mad Men. I haven't enjoyed a series on TV like this since "NYPD Blue". I think I cried when Sipowitz and the boys said goodbye. The characters in Mad Men are our parents. I remember when my mom wore her hair like that and smoked constantly. My dad wore his shirts like that and smoked and drank with the best of them. In fact, in historical comparison, I am about the same age as the little girl on the show. I probably would have "made a play" for her back then because she is kind of dark and brooding with a certain secretive nature. Yes, I thought about shit like that at that age. If you think about it, if Don Draper is somewhere in the vicinity of 32 (that's what I figured him to be in 1964), that means he was born in 1932, which would make him 78 today. I don't think he'd be around today because he led a very dangerous lifestyle then (smoking, drinking, cheating) and had a pretty difficult childhood. So, if he was 32 in 1964, I'm thinking he met his demise by natural causes in about 1994 or 95 (if it was smoking related cancer). That would have made him 62 or 63 when he died. That's pretty much in line with the national average of people who smoked more than two packs a day, and also in line with the family as my mom died at 62. If the smoking didn't kill him, the booze did at about 70, which means he died in 2002 of cirrhosis of the liver (one too many Canadian Clubs) . If the smoking and the boozing didn't get him, him being one of the biggest assholes on the planet (and a type A personality)lowered his life expectancy a great deal. If Betsy didn't kill him (as we join the story, she is living with someone else although the foundation to that relationship is crumbling), the jealous husband of one of his conquests probably waylayed him in a couple of years, which means he never made it to forty. Or, as future episodes will reveal, I could be wrong on all this. He could remarry a nice suburban girl who cared enough about him not to be an "enabler" (I don't think that word was in our lexicon back then) and straightened him up. But, what's the fun of that? With all of his baggage, the last thing I would expect him to do is straighten up his life. See, Don is the child of an alcoholic and he displays all of the behavioral signs. He's never happy and is always trying to destroy the things he loves. It's a classic alcoholic trait. Of course, he could fall so fast from the top that he ends up homeless and living under on overpass but I think the viewers would be disappointed. We are secretly rooting for Don because, somewhere in the corners of his psyche, the devil doesn't reside..I'm still waiting to see that place. I think he reminds us of the darkness in each of our parents. We always thought we knew about them and their lives, but we never knew much if anything at all. It will be interesting to see what happens. It is somewhat incongruous that I am living a bit of my early life through this show. My life was far from the "idyllic" lifestyle the Drapers lead. Being raised on a farm was so opposite of the suburban New York City life. But, I can see myself and my family in the characters on the show. Some of the hair styles for the women are spot on. The men seem to be the guys I saw on television back then (Darren Stephens, Larry Tate). I hope the writers don't cop a "Deadwood" attitude where David Milch said that they were "basically making it up as we went along" after the first season. You sure could tell. Cool, intriguing and full of surprises, "Mad Men" is about as sharp as it gets on TV. Doesn't hurt that Jon Hamm is a former listener. He told me once that I was a large part of his high school years along with everyone else at KSHE. How nice. Now, go get your life together (as much as you can with THAT childhood to go on)...Mad Men rules.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Incense and Peppermints

I still love the smell of incense. Not sure why, but I hear the olfactory gland/sense is the most powerful one we have. It seems to take me back to stoned Saturday afternoons at the Curiosity Shoppe in downtown Davenport, The Church in downtown Moline or the various Co-Op Tapes and Records that dotted the Quad City area. After I got paid, I'd go to my favorite head shop and peruse the comics (loved R. Crumb) and the wondrous works of art that awaited me in the aisles of the latest album releases. Everything form The Carpenters to Root Boy Slim and the Sex Change Band was available and I would just dig the various album covers and the artworks they would become. It is one of my favorite memories. What am I burning now? Sandalwood, why of course. Musk and Jasmine are on the way. Posters? Oh, they're upstairs.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

The Tapes

As I am restructuring my life, a certain misfortune happened upon me about two months ago. I went out to wash my deck and not realizing that the "hydrant" inside my house had burst, I proceded to dump about 1000 gallons of water in my finished basement. After all the insurance has been hassled with and claims have been submitted, I am in the process of finding all of the stuff I have lost over the years. I have pictures of myself with Yoko. Esther and I went to Abbey Road in early 1994 and was given a tour by Alan Parsons. I can't find those pictures either, nor can I find the one with myself and Ozzy, a great one with me and BTO playing on my 30th birthday party, or the one with Steve Perry that I treasure. I did, while going through my brothers stuff, find a complaint levied against my dad, who, apparently assaulted some woman in downtown East Moline in July of 1946, which was right about the time he married my mother. I did find my very first show on KSHE, 6/10/85 on cassette tape. The tape is cranky and creaky and drags in the beginning but I think I can overcome that by playing it a lot. I also found a show with my mom also in 1985. I haven't played it yet. She was very funny and developed quite a following. After two days on the air with me, we announced that we were going to TGIFridays in south county to have an after dinner drink. The place was packed with fans of my mom and they bought her drinks all night. That was one of the coolest things that ever happened to me in teh biz. Mom ruled. As soon as I can get them ready to go, I'll have a special on and recreate the first day and "mom" day. From what I have heard on the tape, I was pretty damned good. Now, if I could only find those damn pictures. What other goodies await at my house?

Friday, July 30, 2010

July 2010

I've been asked by a friend of mine to write more on the blog. He's thinking maybe a weekly update or something of the kind. Let's see what I can do. Hopefully, over the weekend, I'll be able to write some things down that at least make sense. I will ask myself only five questions, since I'm the mayor and I know me and I hate the press.
Q. Randy, how's work and what is work these days?

I enjoy my work. It seems to be challenging and interesting. I feel part hall monitor, father, teacher, firefighter and therapist. I am the advertising director of Lee Enterprise's The Daily Journal in Park Hills, Mo along with weeklies Farmington Press and Fredericktown News Democrat directly overseeing a group of nine. Everyone of my nine are women, sans one. It makes for an interesting dynamic and with each department under a new stress level with more work being added on, it will be interesting and hopefully rewarding to walk them through this. Our technology is exploding and we can offer our clients so much more than just print. Would you like a course on Behavioral Targeting? I can send pre qualified, pre registered customers to my clients. When you sign on any search engine, it keeps information on where you go and develops a portrait of what you are looking for and where. With that info, I can send an ad from a car dealer directly to someone who's looking for a car. You've searched "mortgage" and when you come to my website, an ad for a mortgage guy will pop up. Unbelievable. This is all new. I can create a video ad to run on our website right from my desk. Want a demo? Call me. We are l journeying into uncharted waters and it's cool. But stressful. While learning this, my peeps must be out on the street, not in the conference room. So far, so good.
Q. Randy, do you miss radio?

Desperately. And I probably always will. I would consider getting back into it, but I don't know if THAT job is available. It would have to be on air and with a side order of management thrown in. I don't think anyone is that stupid. I don't think radio misses me much, I don't think I'm what they're looking for in this PPM world. I have a secure vocation and it's the first time I've felt that way since right before I got fired the last time.


Q. So how goes the internet station?

I have a small but loyal following of folks that listen all the time. I can go on the site that tells me where people are and there's always someone from Topeka and others all over the world that have this thing on. I've reached the point with it where someone is listening all the time. The numbers continue to creep up, slowly but surely. There's probably about 500 songs too many in there and we're getting ready for an update in a few weeks, so we'll be tweaking the tunes here and there. I really like the way it sounds. Hearing it plugged in the car is very cool and the sound is wonderful. On most days, I can get almost all the way to Park Hills and it'll drop out for a total of about six minutes. Other days, not so well. I find it refreshing that people dig this kind of radio. I knew there was something there.

Q. Do you believe in the "one that got away" theory?

Q. What do you mean yes and nothing else? Give me more.
I do believe, for what ever reason, the timing with certain individuals wasn't right. You moved away, they lost interest, they cheated, you cheated. There's only one I left behind. And that's five, thanks.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

40 years ago...

I found out a lot of things about myself by being on the farm and maybe that's why I have always been comfortable (and sometimes prefer) living alone. The summer of 1970 was one of the most frustrating times of my life. I turned 14 the previous February. When my mom asked me what I wanted for my birthday I replied ..."to get the hell out of here." It made her cry. While my mother had a horrible life that led to her drinking herself to death, she cared deeply about her kids. She did the best she could, and let's leave it at that. I lived about 4 miles outside of Ava Mo. I never had a problem with Ava per se, it's actually kinds comfortable to go back there once in a while, it was just that Ava was in the middle of....nowhere. Kids were being killed at college, my brother was off fighting in some stupid engagement I never quite got (and still don't), the Woodstock generation was going on all over the country, everywhere, it seemed, things were happening and the world was exploding, everywhere but where I was. Things were exploding in my family too, as my brother had his heartbroken and I was wondering why in the hell my parents were living apart and I was stuck in the sticks with my grandparents, mother and sister. I spent the summer as far away from there as I could by just walking creeks (starting at one point and walking as far as you can, then turning around). I would routinely take my backpack with my tent, cooking supplies and an innertube and just walk and float for days. The radio was one of the things that got me through all of that, it was my window to the world to hear what Chicago, Little Rock, Denver, Nashville and other far away places sounded like. I liked it. Those guys on teh radio told me stories, made me laugh, think and sometimes cry over the 14 second intro of a song. I could even get the far away stations under the tent on the creeks with my transistor. That is, until the batteries would wear out.
Here are some of the songs of that summer that filled my life with joy...
The Billboard top 15 from Independence Day 1970...

1. Close to You-Carpenters (guilty pleasure, still love their music)
2. Make It With You-Bread (fell in love over this song...didn't last)
3. Mama Told Me -3 Dog Night(the song of the summer)
4. Band of Gold-Freda Payne (soul music at its finest)
5. Signed Sealed Delivered-Stevie Wonder (see above)
6. The Love You Save-Jackson Five (see above)
7. Spill The Wine-War (great song)
8. Ball of Confusion-Temptations (still relevant after all this time)
9. Tighter Tighter-Alive and Kickin (not a better one hit wonder ever)
10.Oooh Child-Five Stairsteps(another wonderful soulful song)

This was also the summer of Crosby Stills Nash and Young. I heard Ohio on the radio and went to the store to buy Deja Vu, thinking Ohio was on it. It wasn't and I wasn't happy. It has since become one of the most influential albums of my life. The summer of Suzie Gregg. If I ever get a time machine, this won't be a destination.

Back In The Saddle

I have talked to two or three people in the last week that wondered why I quit writing my blog. I really did not have an adequate answer other than the usual..."well, I've been really busy lately..."and then their reply was..."so you weren't then?" Good point. I know I've said it before but I am truly going to try and do this regularly. At one time, I had almost two hundred people coming here every day. Maybe this is where I test out my novelistic capabilities as I am writing the story of my life. It is a pretty interesting story but in order for it have the "it" factor, I must do what a lot of great writers do. Write it in the third person and embellish. I really don't have a problem with that, it would be up to the reader to figure out what's real and what is an illusion. A story of sex, drugs and rock and roll from the point of view from a guy who was lucky enough to land at a number of legendary rock and roll stations. I did a lot of drugs, made love to many beautiful women and was a part of two major cities rock and roll scene. I remember working in (of all places) Muscatine, Iowa and asking on the air which party had the hottest unattached women and damn straight, I got the answer. All this from a kid who would lock himself in his room every night just to keep my sanity. A life many have dreamed about but I have lived. Sex, drugs and rock and roll indeed. Once written, someone takes it, turns it into a screenplay and Showtime picks it up. Too racy for network TV, but just perfect for HBO or Showtime.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010 Manifesto

I thought I would spend a minute or two on what has become my latest plan for world domination. When I set up my facebook page, I invited a number of my friends and family to check out what I was doing, and being that facebook is the next big thing happening now, I figured I'd give the whole "social networking" thing a shot. I don't think what this was about was evident. The station has over 500 fans, but I wonder if many are aware of what we are actually doing. To help you and me, I will approach this in a journalistic manner....

Who? Me, I guess, and Mike too. I was in the radio business for approximately 33 years, 4 months and 23 days, but who's counting (this picture being taken at my last stop)? Most of my experiences were in "AOR", which stood for Album Oriented Radio. I started in Muscatine Iowa for a station that was a dream to work for. No play list, but we had to keep it relatively familiar. I guess it spoiled me, because later in my career, I always wondered why we didn't play a wider variety of music and that philosophy cost me a job or two. The consultants will tell you that you have to play the hits, one philosophy that I believe, but the constant repetition has killed classic rock and especially oldies radio. Anyway, leaving Muscatine for the Quad Cities and doing mornings on the real first rock station there WXLP, I moved to Kansas City to take the night shift to a number one ranking at the legendary KY 102 from 1979-1981. I moved to afternoons in 1981 and then moved to St. Louis in 1985 to helm the afternoon show at KSHE. I was number one in my demo for about 13 years. I left KSHE to be a part of their stiffest competition ever 97.1, The Rock! After KSHE bought us, and fired me, I spent 40 days wondering around in the desert, moving from Kansas City to Nashville, Bloomington Illinois, Springfield Mo and finally back here. I have been a programmer, consultant and market manager. I only say that to qualify my experience and knowledge of the format

Mike Batchelor has been a part of the St. Louis radio scene for a long time and is now getting into station management. I told Mike what I wanted and he provided it for me. I recommend him highly if you are considering this.

What? It's a radio station on the internet that Mike and I have taken total responsiblity for. I am the programming genius and he is the technical brawn. It's available at
I have attempted to carve out a niche for intelligent, knowledgeable rock listeners. The people who were not only followers, but fanatics. I think this station has a certain style and class. I think it's the intelligent alternative to the dribble that is on the radio now. We have 4,146 songs in the system and 413 unique artists. I'm almost done with the music, I'm just filling holes at this time. You'll hear everything from Bread to Judas Priest, from Gordon Lightfoot to Black Sabbath and let's not forget Cat Stevens did other songs than "Wild World" and "Peace Train". But if you were to ask me what artist most represents this station, I would say Steely Dan, The Beatles and Bruce Springsteen. We are easy to receive, just go to the website and follow the directions.

When? We signed on about a month ago and I really didn't think we'd be "public ready" until March. I like what I hear so far, but fine tuning is a never ending ordeal. We're on 24/7 365 unless technical difficulties (I lose the wireless signal). I find there are more people listening overnight than I expected. (Yes, I can track that).

Where? It originates out of my office in beautiful Kirkwood, Missouri. I have people listening as far away as Australia and Belgium. The word is slowly but surely spreading.

Why? I felt that there was a need for a wide play list full of intelligent music whether that music is played by Jackson Browne or Blue Oyster Cult. I grew up in a time where you could hear The Carpenters and Alice Copper back to back. I just wonder why we still can't do that. It's all good music. We have the hits here, but we also have the complete soundtrack to a generation of knowledgeable, passionate rock fans who want more from their radio. It is literally all here. mission statement:.."to provide the planet with the best sounding, most intelligent, widest variety of classic rock music available anywhere".

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