Monday, October 12, 2015

Ladies and Gentlemen...Suitcase Simpson (Bill Miller)~

Time for a rambling story.
Unfortunately, I have to leave out the juiciest parts.
The summer of my 22nd year was one of my best. I went over to Charlotte NC to visit my old friend Boo Baron, a DJ at the legendary R and B radio station, WGIV. I was between radio gigs and taking a Carolina vacation to have a little fun.
No, not a "little fun." In those days, hanging with Boo meant outrageous fun, 24/7. I figured a week or so would clean my pistons.
That week lasted about six months.
Felonies were involved. Those youthful indiscretions will have to remain secret and lost to time. I don't recall any property damage or serious injuries. Thankfully, no arrests were made.
On the lighter and less criminal side, there was the beautiful daughter of an overprotective professional wrestler in our complex, a great urban nightclub called The Birdcage, 2 AM basketball games in the projects, Al Green, séances with the dead by a jock at WAYS Radio across town, a famous trip to Myrtle Beach with Boo and another jock at WAYS, Bob Jaye, that, thanks to Boo's connections, included hanging out with The Four Tops and Billy Scott and The Georgia Prophets at The Beach Club.
Let's back up to my arrival in Charlotte.
I was just passing through town, but WGIV immediately asked if I was interested in doing lots of production and vacation fill-in. It turned out to be almost a full-time schedule. Of course! It was temporary, but the pay was excellent.
After a few weeks, I took a position as the afternoon on-air personality at the big Top 40 station in San Bernardino, CA, KFXM.
Despite warnings that management people at KFXM were difficult and sometimes irrational (which turned out to be true). I was excited about living on the west coast. I was a young, country boy in search of adventure. The shadow of Los Angeles seemed to be a good place to find new experiences.
Stuff happens.
Driving from North Carolina to California, my parked car was hit in Tennessee and damaged in such a way that it couldn't be driven. Repairs were to take over a week. I called KFXM to set a revised arrival date. Two days and several increasingly hostile calls later, I wished them good luck and headed back to Charlotte.
WGIV welcomed me again. I moved back into the apartment that Boo shared with Happenin' Herm Newell, a cool guy and terrific talent from Los Angeles who found life in Charlotte to be a little slow for his tastes. Along with Boo and Herm, my teammates included the great Sunny Joe White, Jerry Stowe, Manny Clark, and Sister Joanne (Graham). Todd Branson was the station GM.
WGIV was one of the most pleasant and enjoyable radio experiences of my life.
By late summer, it was time to say goodbye to North Carolina and hello to Oklahoma City and another legendary operation, Gaylord's WKY Radio and Television.
That was then. It's a different world now.
Since my 22nd summer, San Bernardino's military based economy has collapsed. Once one of the country's shining markets, I understand it has been a dreadful place to live for years, despite being in the shadow of L.A.
Time, the deregulation fever of the 1980s, and new technologies have marginalized or destroyed most of the radio stations I worked for as a young adult.
Sunny Joe, Manny and Jerry have moved on to the master control room in the sky. Boo and I lost track of Happenin' Herm decades ago.
Boo was elected to the Carolina Beach Music Hall of Fame in 1997. He richly deserved the honor.
I never lived in California and don't think I will. I lost interest in the idea years ago.
It's been a grand life. I'm a lucky man!