Hi there. My name is Pat Garrett. This is my auto biography. It all started back in 2000 when my car was made by the Suzuki factory in Okinawa, Japan. Ha ha funny. Now let's get serious and get on with the real story of my life—which, oddly enough, isn't nearly as interesting as the story of my car's. Come to think of it, it has never been very serious, either.
I was born in December, 1957 at the Jefferson Hospital on Franklin Road in Roanoke, Virginia. I was due January 25, 1958, but was six weeks premature. There were two reasons for this: I didn't want to miss out on a Christmas, and I didn't want to deny my parents a 1957 tax writeoff.
I only weighed 4 pounds, 5 ounces (hard to believe when you see my fat stomach today) and when one month old, I caught pneumonia (I was a baby—if I were elderly, I would have caught old monia). One day, I almost died! Luckily, my grandmother was a nurse at the hospital and that day, she just happened to decide to come in to work early to check on me. She found me congested, unable to breathe, and turning blue. Being a nurse, she knew the location of the doctors' lounge so she ran there, found a doctor, and they returned and saved me. Fortunately for me, all the doctors weren't at the golf course that afternoon.
Growing up, I lived a fairly normal life. Back then most mothers didn't work and I was lucky to be able to spend most days at home playing in the yard and with the neighborhood kids. My three closest neighborhood friends were Mary Jane, Kevin and Bobby (who lived two houses down on the right). To the left of Kevin lived Benton. Benton's mother was my mother's best friend. He was about six years older than me and at the time seemed like the coolest person who had ever lived. One Christmas he got a rod hockey set, which I thought was the coolest toy that had ever been invented.
I almost became a big brother when I was about four, but unfortunately my little sister died during birth. I remained an "only child" and because of this I developed a very active imagination and became very creative. All my favorite toys were ones you used to build or make things, such as Tinker Toys, Gilbert Erector sets, Kenner "Girder & Panel" sets, Thingmakers, Vacuforms. All that stuff.
Back then, my dad worked for the telephone company and would occasionally bring home an old junky rotary phone that the company was throwing away for me to play with. By age three, I could completely disassemble and reassemble one. I credit this with my ability to build or fix just about anything today.
Another consequence of being the only kid in the family was that I learned very early in life how to interact with adults. I was always putting on shows, telling jokes, and was generally the "life of the party" any time my parents had company. Thinking back on this, as an adult with kids of my own, I probably bordered on being annoying as hell sometimes. But back then I didn't perceive this; in most cases I think the adults found me to be genuinely entertaining and a cool kid to have around. This says a lot about my early childhood personality, but even more about my parents, who always gave lousy parties.
With no brothers or sisters, I spent enormous amounts of time by myself and to keep myself company I listened to records and to the radio A LOT. My father was a telephone man and an amateur and CB radio operator and had lots of friends who were into electronics. He was also friends with a man named Hugh Preston who worked at an appliance store. Between them all he came up with a "sound system" for me. A big wooden cabinet with a tube amplifier, a BIG 14" speaker and a radio on the left, and a space which housed a turntable on the right.
Hugh also sold my dad a 7" reel-to-reel tape machine and a few reels of music that included stuff by the Jackie Gleason Orchestra, Christmas music, etc. I was FASCINATED with this and spent hours mounting, threading and playing tapes and listening through the headphones.
The radio could tune in short-wave broadcasts and I would tune around and listen to anything I could receive, but most of the time I listened to WROV. The first guy I ever remember listening to on the radio was Ron Sunshine and shortly after Ron arrived, Fred Frelantz. By the time I was six years old, Kevin and I would sit in front of the radio with a pretend microphone, play records and pretend like we were on the radio. Our "station" was WCAT (we loved cats) and I did "The Pat Garrett Show." Little did I know...
As a child, I spent a lot of time with my mother's side of the family. My grandmother, Kate, was the nicest, most loving person who has ever lived. My grandfather, Wilfred, was a lovably crude, irreverent old bastard with a heart of gold. He cussed like a sailor and told the funniest dirty jokes that I have ever heard.
Nearly every Sunday the entire family had dinner at their house. Wilfred was a gunsmith and knew every hunter in Roanoke and all of them brought him some of whatever it was they'd just bagged and Kate would cook it. We had squirrels, dove breasts, pheasants, raccoons, rabbits and even bear meat. Stuff that would make my wife—who grew up near New York City—grimace like Margaret Drysdale when she saw Granny Clampett.
I spent a ton of time with my cousins Laurie & Rob Shelor. This was because my mother has always been close to her sister Edie and because my dad always used to like to take a snort with my Uncle Pat. Alice and Edie and Kate often shopped together downtown and took us kids along.
During summers they made pickles (which made us think we were going to die from the vinegar fumes) and canning garden vegetables. We usually spent New Year's Eves and sometimes July 4ths together, and on a few occasions vacationed together at Myrtle Beach. Because of this, Laurie and Rob ended up being like a sister and kid brother (and they're really the only relatives that I keep up with today).
I have hundreds of vivid memories from my childhood but there are four that are the most clear. The earliest is from age four when John Glenn orbited the earth. I've been a big fan of the space program since. The next was one and a half years later when President Kennedy was killed. I must have known a lot about geography for a kid because I remember hearing them say that his funeral procession was starting in Washington and going to Alexandria, Virginia. Thinking that they meant the state of Washington, I remember asking my mother if they were marching all the way across the United States.
Another significant memory is from February, 1964, when I clearly recall sitting down in front of the old Philco black and white console TV to watch the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show. It seemed like overnight we all became Beatlemaniacs. Not long afterward, I was visiting my cousins and my Uncle Pat came home from work one day with a copy of the VeeJay album "Introducing The Beatles" and I was hooked.
The fourth and biggest memory occurred about ten months later when my father took me down to the brand new Towers Shopping Center to see Fred Frelantz, who was doing his "Wake-A-Thon" in a trailer on the lower level of the mall near People's Drug Store. My dad picked me up so I could look through the window and see Fred, who I thought was about the biggest star and coolest person who had ever lived.
By 1965 I was playing Beatle records and listening to the radio a LOT. WROV was now the home of Jack Fisher, who was trying to bring the Beatles to Roanoke (it didn't work). Another group that was becoming big in Roanoke was Herman's Hermits. The Hermits may have actually been bigger in Roanoke than The Beatles because we couldn't get The Beatles, but The Hermits came to town, called the radio station, and made us all feel BIG.
I soon knew all the songs on the radio, loved rock and roll, and decided that I wanted to learn to play the guitar. When I mentioned this to my mother I was told "the piano is the 'root' of all instruments" and was then hauled off to piano lessons with an old lady named Mrs. Fisher (no relation to Jack, unfortunately). I later sang in the church choir, played the trombone in the school band and for years thought that I would end up becoming a band director or a church organist.
From first through third grade I went to North Cross, a private school in southwest Roanoke. One classmate was Lendy Goldstein (whose dad owned all of the Lendy's restaurants in SW Virginia. One day she brought Col. Harlan Sanders to school as her "show and tell" item and I shook his hand. Later I told my parents this and they thought I was making it all up. "Son, you shouldn't lie! Col. Sanders is a VERY FAMOUS MAN and he couldn't possibly have been there!" I stuck to my story and finally they called the school and learned that yes, he really had been there. The Colonel was the first of many celebrities I'd meet in life, mostly from being in the right place at the right time.
North Cross used to designate the first Saturday in May as being "Field Day" and the festivities included all of us kids, dressed up in black German-looking suspenders and green shorts, doing a dance during which we wound a bunch of crepe paper ribbons around the May Pole. There was food, a big flea market, carnival games, all to raise money for the school.
In 1967, May Day included a live remote from WPXI, "Pixie" Radio. I walked around the corner and there was the DJ (I think it was Johnny Angel) playing the song "Red Rubber Ball" by The Cyrkle on the remote unit. I stood there and watched him for about half an hour and thought "THIS is what I want to do one day!"
My father had purchased 10 acres of land in what was then the "country" in 1966 and throughout most of 1967 we spent lots of time there preparing to build our next house. Whenever my dad had vacation, we camped there and spent days clearing what would be our yard, working in the garden, etc. We had no TV there, so for the entire summer of 1967 I lived with a radio on, listening to all of the music of what would later be called "The Summer of Love."
I made friends with the kids who were going to become my neighbors. One was a blind girl named Patricia who ALWAYS was listening to the radio. Sometimes we listened to Pixie but mostly it was tuned to WROV where we heard Jack, Fred and Sammy Russell. Sammy's show featured a take-off on the Batman TV show, BAT GRANNY.
At one point in August, 1967, I called the "Mr. Moe's Request Line" on WROV to dedicate a song to "Pat, Lendy, Rosemary and Sharon" my neighbors-to-be. The record was The Beatles, "All You Need Is Love" and the man who put me on the air to do it was Jack Fisher. This was the first time I'd ever been heard on a radio.
In the years to come, I was frequently heard on WROV during contests or dedicating more songs to friends with Jack, Phil Beckman and Fred King. I was also a frequent contestant on the "Lendy's Drive In Game" where you tried to guess which Lendy's menu item the waitress was going to bring you and if you did, you won it.
We moved into the new house in the winter of 1968. Suddenly I had ten acres of woods with a creek to explore. One of our new neighbors was my father's old buddy Mac, who had season tickets to the Roanoke Valley Rebels' hockey games. I began going to their games with him. I soon discovered that I absolutely loved ice hockey. For the next 5 years I went to nearly all Rebels games, and even played youth hockey one season. The man who taught me how to ice skate was Rebels player Doug Carpenter, who years later coached the New Jersey Devils of the NHL. Some other former Rebels who made it to the NHL were Dave Schultz and Mike Keenan.
The new house was up on top of a big wooded hill. Down the hill and across the street was Spring Run Swim Club. It was named this, apparently, because the pool's water came from a running spring. Near the pool there was a small building with locker rooms and a concession stand and a sun deck on top. At one end of the deck, on a pole, were two great big weatherproof speakers that blasted WROV all day long.
It was Super Summer '69, a great time to be at the pool, lying in the sun with the radio and I was. Listeners heard great music and were getting to know a new guy on WROV named Bart Prater. Jack Fisher had lunch one day with a cow. Apollo 11 landed on the moon and I think I watched every minute of Walter Cronkite's coverage on CBS. I'd finished elementary school and was feeling like I wasn't a "kid" anymore. It was a good summer!
Junior high school was a shock. Previously my classmates were much like myself. Now I found myself in the midst of a bunch of hoodlums who looked like they'd just as soon kick your ass as speak to you. People began hanging out in cliques. All of the athletes, all of the snotty girl cheerleaders, all of the rednecks, all of the black people, etc. If you weren't in their group they generally treated you BADLY.
I was getting picked on all the time so my dad started taking me to Carson Hurley's Institute of American Karate. Carson held a 6th Degree Black Belt in Shotokan Karate and taught me enough to earn a Gold Belt. This was enough to beat the crap of the next person who picked on me, and guess what? After that, people left me alone. Amazing.
In spite of the tough times, there were many highlights from that era. Music was good. The Beatles had just released Abbey Road that fall, and I started liking a new band called the Chicago Transit Authority. Hot Wheels cars were the "big thing" that all guys my age were into and for my birthday that year I got a big race track with two "Super Chargers" (little machines that looked like race track buildings that shot the cars around the track so you could have races).
I continued going with Mac to Rebels hockey games. My favorite players back then were Jack Chipchase and Serge Beaudoin, two big defensemen who made you pay for it if you messed with them. And Bobby Guindon, a French-Canadian guy who didn't have a tooth in his head. He could put the puck in the net and was pretty good with his fists, as well, and once whooped the tar out of Bob Shupe, the resident goon of the Charlotte Checkers.
I managed to find a few good souls at school and made a few new friends. A few of them combined to get me interested in watching football and I soon became a Dallas Cowboys fan. This was because everyone I knew in Roanoke, Virginia who was an asshole liked the Washington Redskins or the Los Angeles Rams. Liking the Cowboys was the best way in the world to whiz them off. And the Cowboys had just gotten a new quarterback named Roger Staubach. Woo-hoo!
About this time, I got a trombone and joined the school band. I always loved music and band was a good way to make friends. The original director was a young, single lady who quit after a few months, claiming that she "couldn't take it anymore" after someone in the percussion section of the advanced band took the maracas apart and threw the peas at her.
Her replacement, Mr. Gregory, encouraged you to learn how to play everything. At one point, I could play a scale on just about every band instrument. I liked being in the band until I got to high school, when I dropped out because I don't like uniforms and I didn't want to spend two hours every afternoon going to marching practice.
School became a bit better in 8th and 9th grades. I worked in the industrial arts shop and learned a lot of woodworking skills. I was having my first "serious" relationship with a girl named Sandra and every morning was getting up early, showering and splashing on the Hai Karate so I'd look and smell good. I kept going to Rebels games and listening to music and the radio.
One day about this time, we were herded into the auditorium to see the school talent show. The star of it was a guy named Cliff Beach. Cliff did celebrity impressions. He walked out from behind the curtain doing Dick Cavett so well that half of the school thought that Cavett was really there and when he did Nixon he brought the house down. Cliff could also draw as well as any cartoonist, and was already playing and singing original songs.
I started high school in the fall of 1973. By then I'd become somewhat of a hoodlum myself and was going around in jeans and an army jacket all the time. Though I was no longer in the band, all of my friends were, so at football games I'd show up and sit with them. There, I met a very pretty girl named Debbie who was two years older than me and a trombone player. She was very smart and got very good grades and hung out with a group of very nice, well dressed, "good" kids. Waylon Jennings once sang that "ladies love outlaws like babies love stray dogs" and it was true!
Debbie graduated in 1974 and that summer we went on a trip with her church group to a youth conference in New Mexico, the one and only (so far) time I've been west of the Mississippi River. That fall she went off to college and we drifted apart. This was really tough at the time but it paved the way for a BIG change in my life.
I'd recently become interested in photography and had set up a darkroom in my basement. Now that I was "single" and had time on my hands I decided to join the school newspaper staff. There, I met Cliff, who was a writer. Cliff did movie reviews and celebrity interviews. We became friends and I ended up going on assignments with him to shoot photos.
One rainy afternoon in October, 1974, we were sent to 15th & Cleveland Avenue to interview Bart Prater, WROV's legendary afternoon air personality. Upon entering the station, I knew that this was where I wanted to be. My destiny was now revealed. All my music lessons went out the window, much to the chagrin of my parents. I was now hell bent on becoming a disc jockey.
While covering an event for the school paper with the president of the Student Council Association, I learned from her that they were in need of someone to become the WROV High School Correspondent from Cave Spring High. This job entailed preparing a short, three-minute news report on happenings at the school, going to the station on Wednesday nights and doing it on the air.
For the first of many times in my radio career, I was in the right place at the right time. I talked her into giving me this job—a job I did for the next two years on the 7:00 PM - Midnight show; first with Chuck Holloway and then with Starr Stevens. In the process, I became friends with all the WROV personalities including Rob O'Brady, Larry Bly, Vince Miller and their new guy, Rich Randall.
One night while doing this, I became "famous" for accidentally saying that the members of the CSHS tennis team spent every afternoon "knocking their balls around on the tennis courts." This small "gig" led to me doing photography for the station and to me showing up a few nights each week and filing all of the 45s back into the record library.
In early 1975 I started working on the school's closed-circuit radio station, WCSH. WCSH played everyday from about 11:00 to 2:00 over the intercom, into the school cafeteria. The jingle said "What's so different about WCSH? You can't cut us off!" Soon I was doing a daily show. The WROV guys listened to my tapes and provided constructive criticism. By the fall of 1975 when I was a Senior, I was running the place. And it sounded pretty damn good.
That school year I met two guys who ended being my "Siamese Radio twins." In the winter of 1974, a friend of mine who lived in Sugar Loaf built a small radio station board with a bunch of rheostats from Radio Shack and a metal bread box and wired his turntable and a microphone into it. We had propped a speaker outside of his window, cranked it up, and were sitting in his bedroom doing a show for the neighbors (whether they liked it or not).
His phone rang and it was this poor little ugly girl who lived behind him. We thought they were going to complain but instead they asked if we took requests. They were having a Christmas Party and the arriving guests could hear our music. After talking with her a bit, she invited us to her party. Since a big creek separated the properties, we hopped in the car and drove over there.
I remember pulling up to the place and seeing a car in front of us stop. The door opened. Some little 8-year-old kid with a tie on got out. My friend John said "if that kid goes into the party, I'll crap in my pants." The kid went into the party. He looked at me and said "Well, do you want me to do it now or hold it for later?"
We went in anyway. They were playing some ridiculous game where the name of some celebrity or character on a small piece of paper was taped onto your back. You didn't know who but everyone else did and gave you clues as to who you were and you had to try to figure it out. There was some dorky guy in the corner in a blue jean jacket and it said "FONZIE" on his back. I remember having an Eric Burdon moment and thinking "we gotta get out of this place!"
Well, about that time the "FONZIE" guy started trying to call WROV to have a record played for the party. Rich Randall was on the air and the "FONZIE" guy was saying "Oh I know him, I call him all the time!" I started talking to him and told him I knew those guys, too, and he said "I want to know who this Pat Garrett guy is who does the weekly Cave Spring reports."
The "FONZIE" guy was Steve Finnegan who had recently moved to Roanoke from Erie, PA. He would go on to become one of my "Siamese Radio twins" and friend from then on.
Since 1974, I'd been hearing of another high school guy much like myself. Only he was already working at a radio station and had also built one in his basement. He went to Andrew Lewis High School in Salem and his name was Bucky Stover. I finally met him one night at WROV and we instantly became good friends.
Bucky had built a fully functional radio station in his basement in a little room he'd built under the stairs. He had built a board, had two turntables, and a reel to reel machine with the entire WABC - New York jingle package on a 7" reel. There was even a little window in the studio. And he even had a small transmitter and sometimes would broadcast to the neighborhood. I did a few shows from there.
Bucky was so good that by 1976 he was doing the overnight show on WROV. He drove a white International Scout that had once been a mail truck and had the steering wheel on the right instead of the left. He'd crouch down in the driver's seat and drive with me hanging out the left front window waving my arms and screaming "HELP! I DON'T KNOW HOW TO DRIVE!" Yes, it's amazing we didn't get arrested.
One afternoon in April, 1975, I got a phone call from Bart, who said "get your camera and get down here, something BIG is going to happen." When I got there I learned that legendary disc jockey Wolfman Jack—who was in town on tour with the Guess Who—was going to do a live show that night on WROV. At 9:00 PM, Wolfman arrived and did a two-hour show.
I spent the next two hours standing about three feet away from The Wolfman, just on the other side of the control board, taking pictures. Many local celebrities, including Fred Frelantz, were there. Just six months earlier I had decided to pursue a radio career, and there I was, standing there next to Fred, eye-to-eye with Wolfman Jack. Again, I was in the right place at the right time.
My very first ever paying job was as a cook at the Brambleton Avenue Pizza Hut. Steve Finnegan had worked at the Pizza Hut on Hershberger Road and while visiting him there, I made friends with a cook there named Mike Grose. A few months later, in early 1976, Mike became manager of the Hut on Brambleton and hired me.
It was fun. I worked until closing. Then, if there were any unclaimed take-out pizzas I took one to WROV and spent the next few hours there with then-all nighter Doug "McCloud" Rorrer. After two hours of sleep, it was back to another day at school (youth was wonderful!). We were eventually all fired from the Pizza Hut for "partying" on the premises.
I graduated from Cave Spring in early June, 1976. Bucky was working at WROV. Steve, Cliff and I eventually all got jobs at local radio stations. My other high school friend, Sam Lacy, didn't—proving that out of the four of us, he was the only one who, in retrospect, had a lick of common sense. Cliff began showing up at various venues performing country & rock hits and his own original material.
Over the next six years, between the three of us, we worked at nearly every radio station in Roanoke and surrounding areas, including WROV, WVWR, WFIR, WPVR, WSLC, WSLQ, WUEZ, K92, WLVA (Lynchburg), WQBX (Christiansburg), and WYTI (Rocky Mount).
It took me a few months to get started. I had applied for a weekend opening at WBLU in Salem, who were now being run by Brother Fletcher Hubbard and playing soul music. They told me to sit by the phone and they would call. It was the weekend of the American Bicentennial, July 4, 1976. I waited and waited. No call! But the weekend had a highlight. I spent the morning of The Fourth at WROV visiting Larry Bly who was on the air and HILARIOUS. One of us has a tape of this show somewhere.
I finally got a job in the fall of 1976 I was hired to work weekends at WVWR-FM, the public radio station at Virginia Western Community College. My very first ever REAL radio shift was the Sunday morning shift on the day that everyone set their clocks back an hour to Eastern Standard Time. I was told to reset all of the clocks at the station and while doing so, dropped one on the floor and broke it into about a thousand pieces. What a way to begin one's career.
At WVWR I worked with Adrian Cronauer, whose military experiences became the subject of the movie Good Morning Vietnam. He was a wonderful guy and was very professional--not silly like his character played by Robin Williams. Also Chet Rhodes who did the news but went on to become an authority on something I love, bluegrass music. And I met another lifelong friend there named Rick Howell.
About a year later,in early December 1977, I was hired to work at WPVR, the "beautiful music" station that had just moved into the Towers Shopping Center studios of its sister station, WFIR. The studios were on the bottom level of Towers, right where Fred Frelantz had done his "Wake-a-thon" exactly thirteen years earlier.
I had finally made it to commercial radio and was doing it at the exact spot where I'd first seen a REAL radio guy, Fred, years before.
When I started I worked solely on WPVR. Across the hall, Jerry Joynes, Bill Thomas, Bill Bratton and longtime Roanoke personality Ted Rogers worked on WFIR. Steve Finnegan was there and split his time among both. The following April I did my very first "DJ" shift on a real radio station on WFIR.
This was another instance of being in the right place at the right time. The overnight guy was Carl Foster, who later went on to work with the Greaseman and Ernie K. at DC-101 in Washington. Carl was hurt in a basketball game and I was the only guy he could find who could work for him. I was HORRIBLE but at the time, man, I thought I had hit the big time.
I continued working on both stations. On Sunday mornings I literally DID work on both stations at the same time, running the "God Squad" shows. This required me to start a show on WPVR then run like hell across the hall to start one on WFIR and sometimes vice-versa. Once, this arrangement caused me to start "Let's Go To Church" about twenty seconds late. The private line rang, I answered it, and it was the show's host, Hayden Huddleston.
Hayden, who had helped put Roanoke's first station on the air in 1924 and been in local radio and TV since, was revered as the "father" of Roanoke broadcasting. I'd grown up watching him do Klub Kwiz on Channel 10. And there he was, the cheap old bastard, lividly swearing at me for screwing him out of 20 seconds of time that he'd paid for.
Back in the 1950s, Hayden, God rest his soul, had lived through a form of oral cancer and had part of his tongue removed. After he recouperated, he made a remarkable comeback to broadcasting. But, despite all of his speech therapy he still talked funny. But Roanoke didn't care, they loved him and paid no attention and he went on to work in the market for another 30 years.
Anyway, there I was on a Sunday morning in 1978 with Hayden on the phone yelling "I ONLY THTARTED WORKING IN BROADCATHTING IN NINETEEN THWENTY FOUR. ITH IT TOO MUCH TO ATHK FOR YOU TO THTART MY PHROGRAM ON TIME?" He went on and on and all I remember about this is that I was thinking "Wow! Hayden Huddleston, the guy I grew up watching on TV, is cursing me out! I've finally arrived!"
That summer, Cliff began working part time at WFIR / WPVR. About that time, Willie Nelson came to town. The radio station arranged for Cliff and I to go interview him at the Williamson Road Holiday Inn. While knocking on his door we were wondering "do we call him 'Mr. Nelson' or what?"
The door swung open and there stood a beardless Willie. All formalities went right out the window as Cliff said "Willie! What the hell have you done to your face?" Ol' Willie said "I shaved it off...it gets hot in the summertime." We didn't bother to do an interview. Rather, we just sat around and talked with him for about an hour. Willie arranged for us to have backstage passes for the show that night, where we met Emmylou Harris.
It seemed like I was meeting EVERYBODY back then. In early 1979, WFIR sponsored an "oldies concert" at the Roanoke Civic Center. Steve Finnegan and I, and our girlfriends, were among those who got to have dinner with Chuck Berry that night. Later, backstage, we met Sam The Sham, Jewel Akens and the current lineup of The Coasters. I told Sam that I had a copy of his infamous record "I Couldn't Spell !!@?%*!" and he said the HE didn't even have a copy of that one.
Then a few months later the Beach Boys came to town. At the time, Brian Wilson was in the middle of his problems with depression and nobody thought he would be on this tour but he was and so were all the originals including Carl, Dennis, Al Jardine and Mike Love, who was in a white tuxedo with a white "pimp" hat with that had a big white feather stuck in it. And a member of their tour band was Ricky Fataar who had just played George in the TV film The Rutles.
My time working at VWCC had convinced me that it might be fun to go to school there, also my parents were encouraging me to earn a degree. So in the fall of 1978 I enrolled in their Radio / TV Production Technology curriculum. It was the first time I'd ever done anything related to TV. The teacher was an immensely popular guy named Gary Kazanjian.
While there I met a very pretty Italian girl named Susan. This was the first time in life (and I was lucky enough to actually have two) where I met a girl who thought the exact same way I was thinking at the time. She loved music and I worked at a radio station. A perfect match. We ended up dating for four years. Forrest Gump: "and that's all I have to say about that."
Not long afterward, Steve was fired by the stations' operations manager, Frank, who was upset over the fact that he was late for work one night. Then shortly after this, when American Top 40 ran out early, Steve played "Blue Collar Man" by Styx, which was not on the station's playlist. I believe that Frank thought he was going to be ending Steve's career but Steve fixed his ass when he very quickly got a job at WROV.
So for the summer of 1979, I was the overnight guy on WFIR while Steve did the same at WROV. This culminated in our being featured in a Roanoke Times feature about Roanoke's all-night DJs. Apparently I was supposed to have asked Frank's permission before giving an interview to the paper so he could tell me what to say (which is bullshit). The same day that the article was printed, Frank canned MY ass!
Picture this: I had worked at the station from midnight to six. The morning paper came to the station and I saw the interview and thought "WOW!" I went home. Slept for three hours. The phone rang. I was canned. About an hour later I got a call from Bucky, who now worked at WUEZ and said "our midday guy was just hired to replace you at WFIR. Are you interested in coming here to replace him?" I told him "Sure!"
Then three hours later the GM of WFIR/PVR called and offered me my job back. He said Frank had no authority to fire me and I was still an employee there. I told him "Sorry but I've accepted another job." I went back to sleep for two more hours. Got up, went to WUEZ (formerly WBLU) and was hired. In about six hours I had had one job, then no job, then one job, then two jobs, then (finally) one job. Ain't that radio?
It was fun working with Bucky and Ben Peyton at WUEZ but the pay sucked and I was burned out. That fall I decided that I'd had enough of broadcasting and was going to pursue an education. I signed up to attend classes at Virginia Western Community College with a goal of earning a Associates Degree in Business Administration. Jimmy Buffett once sang "I'll NEVER work in this business again!" And I didn't...