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Airwaves: May 19, 2006

Radio Wedding

I have always loved radio. Some of my earliest memories involve listening to the radio, and I often associate events, places or other memories with radio stations.

I equate the song Beach Baby by First Class with our '64 Chevy Impala wagon, listening to KEZY as my sister, Jackie, drove. Bryan Adams me of San Francisco, as I used to hear him a lot while visiting Jackie in Gilroy, listening to KFRC.

I wanted to be a DJ, just like my heroes on KHJ, KEZY and others. I chose Long Beach State for college because I wanted to work at campus station KSUL, a station that was shut down after I declared my intent and before I started attending. So I later transferred to UCLA, partly to work at campus station KLA.

Alas, it was not to be. About the time I graduated college, the radio industry began to change. All the great AMs were either gone or going. Consolidation took away what I liked about radio. I turned down an offer from KMMT/Mammoth Mountain, partly because I didn't see a real future in radio for myself. I did hold out hope, though. I started writing this column in 1987 partly to stay in touch with programmers who might just take a chance on me.

My friend Andrew Holt was different. We met at UCLA: I the aspiring DJ trying to play alternative music with a top-40 approach, he the sports director who also hosted a jazz program. Upon graduation, while I was busy turning down KMMT, he decided to go for it, moving to Pennsylvania for his first gig.

Some of the stories he told were hilarious ... and frightening. His first station was in a house. And as with all small market stations, he had to do just about everything: news, sports, DJ. All for virtually no pay.

But he kept at it. Moving up to KISS-FM ... WKSB/Williamsport, PA, not KIIS-FM in Los Angeles, though they did play the same jingles.

He left the industry for a time, fed up with the long hours and low pay. But radio kept calling, and he decided to make a go for it again. First in LaGrande, Oregon, and later Walla Walla, Washington, where he still works today. Happy.

He's decided that small and medium market radio are good things. Markets where radio still can be local, where radio stations play an important part of city communications, and where you still can be someone who makes a difference.

Andrew's back in town next weekend so that his family and friends -- some of whom apparently don't even know where Walla Walla is -- can celebrate his marriage to Marissa Flores of Boise, Idaho (home of KBOI, by the way ... I used to hear Anne Murry's Snowbird when I listened long distance years ago). The two got married back in January in a small ceremony attended by her family.

Andrew and Marissa: Congratulations. I wish you both a long and happy life together. Andrew, as my best friend from college: I further salute you for having the guts to do what I always wanted to do, to stay with it when the going was tough, and to return to it because you know that radio really is inside of you.


Copyright © 2006 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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