While I was in 8th grade, my family went to Pittsburgh for Christmas to be with my Grandmother and my uncle. From the window of our hotel, I could see the building housing KDKA radio. I begged my understanding father to take me there for a tour. During part of our visit, we met Rege Cordic, morning man and Pittsburgh super star! (Rege would later head for KNX in LA, but nothing could match his Pittsburgh super power.)
He had his own office and his own studio! He was unbeatable and magnificent at “Theater Of The Mind.” He created many in person events and fantasy radio. One of his creations was Olde Frothingslosh Beer, “The Pale, Stale Ale With The Foam On The Bottom.”
He actually convinced a Pittsburgh beer company to produce the mysterious brew! I had never heard radio like this before! (So, I discovered that when you are in radio, you can create anything you can imagine. Mind expanding for the young 8th grader.)
Well, that was the highlight of the trip. By the time we returned to Dallas, I was running a high temprature. At first, it did not respond to medication. The doctor became concerned. It turned out to be Rheumatic fever and the treatment in those days was months of bed rest.
I used the time to listen to radio constantly and even started to figure out how formats worked. But mostly, I gave close attention to the pictures the disc jockeys were painting.
My parents brought in tutors. So, I was able to graduate from 8th grade and move on to Jesuit High School by the start of the next school year. (Well, that’s a whole other wonderful story.)
I was depressed and fearful. What if I don’t reach my dream? My Mom said, “The Lord never closes a door that He doesn’t open a window. Be patient with this and ask Him for what you dream.”
Now, fully recovered, it was time to ask for that dream: a job on the radio.
KIXL was a “beautiful music” station. The AM was amazingly successful…especially considering that it was a 1,000 watt day timer.
“KIXL, the home that loyal listeners and adult music built.”
KIXL-FM only played instrumentals and featured no commercials. I thought I might have a chance there. The studios were at 1401 South Akard. Right…14 blocks south of downtown Dallas. Not exactly the neighborhood where you would expect the ice cream truck to slowly drift through. That might explain why the building looked more like a bunker.
Lee Segall, who created the old Doctor I.Q. show, owned the stations. With connections to old Hollywood, other investors were Greer Garson, Tyrone Power, and William Holden. The story goes that when Gordon McLendon was ready to launch beautiful music KABL in San Francisco, he met with Segall to better understand the lightening in a bottle that made KIXL successful.
Much to my delight, Segall decided to give me a shot on the FM station. Dick Pears was assigned to be my teacher and show me the ropes. Pears also passed along a lot of information from his active bachelor life that I hoped to use some day.
Before long, I was a real 14 year old radio announcer.
Jerry Hughes worked the afternoon shift on the AM.
He was also in law school. I asked him why he would possibly want to be a lawyer when he was already a disc jockey. He said, “Well, many folks can be an announcer. Not all of them are clever enough to be disc jockeys. I’m a decent announcer.”
The first paycheck was a net of $36.16. Perfect. I would have paid them to do this. Living the dream, I was. But before too long, I felt the urge to get over to the AM band. At this time, that’s where the listeners were.
Where could I go now that I had this vast experience? Time to give KVIL a shot. Since I still didn’t have a drivers license, I’d have to work out transportation to that interview with my chauffeur, Mom.
The dream was alive and I was on the move.