I was a teenage radio personalityFree Access



I have been asked how I wound up in radio broadcasting, so I guess I should tell the story. Back in 1957 in high school in Grants, NM, I was in my junior class play and my English teacher, who was also the director, gave me a leading part. (I think I was something of a teacher’s pet, but don’t tell anyone.)

One day, she informed me the local radio station, KMIN, AM 980, wanted to hire a high school student part time and she thought I’d be an excellent prospect. I was looking for a part-time job and it sounded better than sacking groceries, so I checked it out.

They interviewed me and told me to just talk about anything—I don’t even remember what I said. It must have impressed them, though. They hired me on the spot. So began my foray into broadcasting as a teenage radio star.

Except I really wasn’t a star. I spent the summer of 1958 cataloging 45 rpm records (remember those?) which had accumulated for two years because nobody filed them. I would type one file card for the artist and one for each side of the record. Then at the end of the day, I would file cards and records away.

But, each day I got to learn the radio control board, play records and say a few words and read a commercial or two. Eventually, they gave me my own program each Saturday and I became a real, live broadcaster. It didn’t go to my head, because it actually was a lot of work. Well, maybe I did let it go to my head a little–I was getting pretty famous for an 18-year-old.

At some point, management said, “He’s the high school kid. Let’s let him work Sundays.” And I would sign the station on the air at 5 a.m. and work all day until we signed off at local sunset. Mom or dad would bring lunch.

And that’s how I got into radio. Few radio people I knew became wealthy, and it was more work than most of us realize, but radio was fun. A few years later, I earned my degree in radio journalism and eventually I gravitated to broadcasting news.

That’s another story for another time, though. For now, it’s time to sign off.

WARREN DOMKE is a columnist for the Pleasanton Express.

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