Thursday, August 21, 2008

Let's do it's Ditto time!

Great to see this's bringing back things that I thought the courts had ordered sealed. My name's Ed Ditto; I was Phil Williams' intern at WIMZ and then an overnight jock there in 1992 and 1993. I was in MBA school at UT at the time, and I was supposed to find a summer internship. So I'd won a pair of hockey tickets or something, and I walked into the Stoner office to pick them and asked the receptionist--a stunner, as I recall--if I could speak to the program director. Turned out to be Blake Watson, a guy I recognized from his stint at WSKZ in Chattanooga. He pretty much hired me (for way below minimum wage, you understand) on the spot, and I worked my first overnight shift not long thereafter. Got hired on for real about three months later. Which would have to go down in history as the best internship anybody at the UT MBA school ever had--I may not have gotten paid as much as some of the other students (who went to Martin Marietta and so forth), but I was hanging out in bars and backstage while they were slaving away in cubicle hell, so I felt like it was a good trade. Phil was a great guy to work for--I was 22, I think--and he taught me some important lessons about professionalism and, er, tolerance. Stuff that served me in good stead later on. The crew at WIMZ at that time was cool...Ted Hall was Phil's sidekick (this was before his 15 minutes of Margot Kidder fame), Billy Kidd was there, and Jeff Payne. Shane Cox. Commander Dave. And other people,too...there was sort of a revolving door on the control room but I remember them all fondly...even the ones who ragged on the intern. After all, we all had mullets together. And this is going way out on a limb, but a friend named Greg Aldridge and I ran the morning show at WUTK during that same time. We called the show "Wake and Bake" and our format was essentially going on the air and playing whatever we wanted and saying whatever came into our heads. We thought it worked. But I remember going into a low-rent grocery store in Knoxville one afternoon back then, and the cashier recognized my name from the check I handed her. She went all starry-eyed, as if I was Somebody, and I enjoyed it just long enough to realize that the check I'd written her was doomed to bounce like a pogo stick. And the Parable of the Bouncing Check is why I got out of radio after I graduated from UT. Because for every Phil Williams making money, there were a hundred guys like me with stars in their eyes and vacuum in their bellies--working for five bucks an hour and rubbing elbows with rock stars. I figured cubicle hell beat starving. But what did I know? I was 22. Gratefully--Ed