Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Learning the ropes

Our bicentennial year was a strange one for me, especially on a professional level. In the fall and winter months of that year I found myself working as an instructor in a broadcasting school. It was another one of those cases where networking with colleagues produced strange results.
I had left WTVN to pursue this new adventure and it nearly ended my radio career. A friend of mine who happened to be the program director for WBBY-104-FM had introduced me to the school’s director with a recommendation to replace him on the teaching staff.
The friend was Robin Goode and the director was a guy I had admired for years when he worked for WNCI, Mike Raub.
Also putting in a good word for me then was another friend who was working at the time for 1460-WBNS and who was also an instructor at the school, my old buddy Joe Gallagher.
The President and CEO of International Broadcasting School was Don Gingerich who for lack of a better way to say it was a business maverick.
Anyway, I was hired to teach a class of 25 students, about 23 of them should not have been enrolled. But as was the case in those days if you had about $1400.00 and time to kill you could enroll in just about any broadcasting school in the country. My own arena for "higher learning" was Career Academy School of Broadcasting. Similar mess.
IBS was located on West 5th Avenue in Grandview in a building that once was home for either a flea market or maybe a revival meeting house, I forget. Whatever it once was it was a smelly, drafty excuse for a schoolhouse.
The heat rarely worked and the equipment in our studios looked like something that a radio station might have thrown away in the 1940s. More importantly, our weekly paychecks rarely showed up when they were supposed to. And by the end of the semester the school locked its doors and moved to Dayton.
Luckily for me I still had a little something going with WRFD where I was working part-time with guys like Spook Beckman, Bill Stewart and Denny Nugent and I was gearing up for a seven year run with WMNI. So when the school closed I was still positioned to survive in this crazy business. Through the years I have lost track of both Robin Goode and Mike Raub and sadly my friend Joe Gallagher passed away several years ago at a young age.
And aside from two of my students, I have never heard any of the other 23 on the air anywhere and I am still not ready to accept any responsibility for that last stat. I had nothing to do with taking advantage of these kids by taking money that should never have exchanged hands.
However, I do hope they all found gainful employment in broadcasting. Who knows maybe some of them ended up in bigger markets and went on to make millions of dollars. Stranger things have happened. My own radio career was a glaring example of that and as I continue to reflect back on my own experiences and of almost everyone I ever knew in that business I have to believe we all went through some strange times somewhere along the line. Recently a popular New York disc jockey, Robin Marshall published a very funny book about radio people from around the country and their strange experiences and was kind enough to include me in it. The book is called "Is this thing on?" and my contribution to it has to do with my first day in radio and some of what I struggled through to survive it. But unlike some of those those kids in that broadcasting class at IBS I believe all of us who had the good fortune to be a part of radio and to make it work for us can look back and smile and know that we were a part of something special.

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