Friday, March 24, 2006

Happy 25th anniversary to me!

It's hard to believe, but yesterday I celebrated my 25th anniversary of working here at 101QFL.

Yes, I was 10 years old when I started here. :)

Not really. I was 24 years old, a young wife and the mom of an almost-one-year-old baby boy. (I started out only working four hours in the afternoon, but I still cried when he waved good-bye to me as I dropped him off at the babysitter's on March 23, 1981.)

I was still apparently young and pretty enough to get out of a speeding ticket when a cop stopped me on my way to my first day. "Officer, I'm sorry! I'm on my way to a new job, and I just wasn't paying attention to the speed limit..."

I had worked for three years at KWFC in Springfield, Missouri. I was so excited to be working in Christian radio again. If someone had told me that day that I would still be working here in 25 years' time, I probably wouldn't have believed them. But I have to say that I've enjoyed most of my time here.

The news director who hired me, Wes Bleed, is now the news director at WGN Radio in Chicago. He was a terrific news director and I learned a lot from him during the short time we worked together. I respect him deeply and enjoy occasionally hearing him on WGN.

Brian Wright, who was the program director at 101QFL for a while, is now a consultant for the station, and he has the distinction of being probably the only consultant whose advice I fully respect and who I thoroughly like! Brian was always brimming with creativity and chutzpah, and even in 1981 he was ahead of his time.

Ron Tietsort, the general manager at the time and now operations manager of our sister-station, Radio 91, is the only employee who pre-dates me at the station. I still enjoy working with him as I do the news for Radio 91.

To give you some insight on how things have changed in the past 25 years:

*When I first came here, I typed my news stories on a manual (yes, MANUAL!) typewriter. I remember being thrilled when the newsroom got an electric! I now have a computer complete with AP news and SounDesk as well as the Internet.

*We recorded our interviews on reel-to-reel and transferred them to cartridges. My soundbites are now all recorded onto my computer (from mini-disc if necessary.)

*I sat through lengthy county board and city council meetings in order to garner a few minutes of soundbites. 101QFL is now a music-intensive station whose focus has shifted away from a heavy emphasis on news, so such coverage would no longer be a wise time investment.

*I used to truly enjoy covering murder trials and calling in reports to the station. One of the most exciting things that has happened to me as a reporter was when I was covering the trial of accused murderer Ray Lee Stewart. At one point, he escaped from a guard on his way to the courtroom and was shot by law enforcement authorities before being on the loose for a few hours. I and a TV reporter were the only people in the courtroom at the time, waiting for the trial to resume after a recess, and we got the story to our respective stations before anyone else.

*When I first came here, the station was in a residential neighborhood that wasn't close to any retail or food places. We had to travel a ways to even go to McDonald's, and what is now a major thoroughfare (Riverside Boulevard) was just a two-lane road. Now, the station is in prime real estate surrounded by every sort of business and eatery.

*Brian Wright and other staffers used to do their best to crack me up while I was on the air. I usually managed to make it through the newscast, but then I would completely lose it as soon as the mic was turned off!

*I started working on March 23rd, 1981, but I was scheduled to go on the air for the first time on Monday, March 30th. However, a certain event called a presidential assassination attempt pre-empted me! Yes, that was the day President Reagan was shot. We went with ABC Network News, and I never made it on the air that day.

There are a lot of great--and not-so-great--memories. General managers who were complete jerks, and a few who were wonderful. A long list of DJ's and support staff for whom I will always feel affection. Many colleagues--like Mike Marino, Mike Schlote, Joel Griffith, Randy Adams, Joe Buchanan and Chris Carmichael--who I still miss to this day. Others with whom I'm now working, like Darren Marlar,help make radio a continous joy for me.

I don't know how much longer I'll be in radio...maybe as long as the Lord gives me a voice and a mic to speak into! But to all who have worked alongside me this past 25 years, and all who have listened to me, thanks for the memories.

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