AFTER ALMOST A YEAR-AND-A -HALF AT KLID I was yearning to get to a bigger market. My good friend & mentor, Don (Johnny Rabbitt) Pietromonaco, had been urging me to send out some Airchecks to some of the larger markets...even sending me Industry Info on where some jobs were available. I had checked-out a few, but nothing positive came from it.
Then, right before Easter in the Spring of 1969, the morning man at KLID, my friend Jerry McDaniel (also a former St. Louisan), got a call from another of our former KLID Staffers, Richard Enderwood. Richard had gone to KAAY/Little Rock as a newsman (Richard Underwood) and told Jerry that the Mighty 1090 was looking for an 8p-11p Air Personality because the jock who held that position was becoming Production Director at the station.
Well Jerry, at that time, had a wife & two small children and was firmly ensconced in the Poplar Bluff area. He thanked Richard for the call, said he wasn't really interested in moving just then, BUT suggested that I might just really welcome the opportunity. And, boy was he right !
Richard and I talked, and he gave me the name of the KAAY Progam Director, Mike McCormick (Barry Wood), whom I called the next day. As I said, this was just a few days before Easter so we set up a meeting for April the 8th, 1969, the Tuesday after Easter.
As it usually happens when events like this occur, sometimes you're juggling many things at once. My folks had come down from St. Louis for an Easter visit. When I broke the news to them about this possible move to Little Rock they were happy, but a bit apprehensive about the move because I was doing so well in Poplar Bluff. And, not having the true knowledge as to how the Broadcasting Industry worked, didn't always understand the frequent moves it sometimes entailed.
My Dad, one of the most wonderful, hardworking people ever put on the face of this earth, had worked for the Wagner Electric Corporation in St. Louis for 36 years. He and my Mom were married during the heart of the Depression: September 16, 1934. He too had traveled around quite a bit as a young man, even ridiing the rails at one time. So he somewhat understood what I was doing, but my Mom was not a risk taker and was always leary of the economic changes that could come from instability...which would include frequent moves into the "unknown".
I LEFT FOR LITTLE ROCK on the morning of April 8, 1969, as scheduled. Although I was completely aware of KAAY and its' WorldWide reach, and had traveled to many places through the years, I had never been to Little Rock. Luckily the trip was smooth, uneventful, and my year-old 1968 Cougar XR-7 made it a very comfortable experience.
Mike McCormick (Barry Wood) the PD, met me when I arrived, gave me a briefing, some info, said he was aware of my background working with Rabbitt at KXOK, and my previous acting experience. He & the General Manager, Pat Walsh, had listened to my Aircheck, liked it, and were prepared to offer me the job. Pat Walsh, then entered into the Interview, said pretty much the same things that Mike had said, and wanted us to go to lunch and take a brief tour of the City. I liked what I saw, accepted the job, and drove back to Poplar Bluff.
The next day I broke the news to my boss, the owner of KLID, Don Liddenton. Don was excited for me, but seriously didn't want to lose me. This was at a time when owners & station managers REALLY cared about the people that worked for them, and understood their importance to both the station and the community. Don even offered to match the salary that KAAY was giving me so that I would stay, but I just couldn't pass-up working for the 50,000 Watt Giant: The Mighty 1090. KAAY/Little Rock.
When I called my friend Don at KXOK to tell him the news he was elated to say the least ! He thought that the move to KAAY was THE perfect fit for me. He also told me he was "jealous" because in all of his years in the business he had NEVER worked at a 50,000 Watt Station, and that the ability to be heard the world-over would be fantastic !
Oh, something that I haven't mentioned yet: there was one thing that Barry & Pat Walsh had talked to me about that was a required part of our deal. And, it was something that I wasn't very happy about.
(My first night on-the-air at KAAY: Monday, April 21, 1969)
NEXT: JONNIE KING: KAAY AIRCHECKS, Pt. 1 (1971) SIMPLY CLICK-ON THE LINK TO THE LEFT BELOW, And Enjoy The Aircheck, Plus Lots More Pix, Stories, and Information...