You Never Forget Your First … Job

My friend Lisa hosts the morning show for Duluth Public Radio.  We went to high school together and got our first radio jobs at a small Minnesota station. Lisa recalls having an accident with some equipment and hurting herself.  When she called the General Manager he said “Sorry, we don’t have anyone to come in. Good luck.”  I recall more goofy things during three years at that station than in all the years since. Off the top of my head:

  • At 15 and thinking DJs dress casually, I showed up for the job interview wearing cut-off jeans and a t-shirt.  My parents were not pleased.
  • The owner was a tightwad. The station was in a rundown old building atop a drug store.  Rather than spend $10 for a new studio clock, he offered the drug store free commercials for it.
  • My starting wage was $2.10 per hour. One day the manager said I would be raised to $2.30.  I remember the words “There’ll be more where that came from.” Later I learned that the minimum wage had increased.
  • Each Saturday night the station broadcast “The Wolfman Jack Show.”  One week the Wolfman tapes didn’t arrive. I was told to fill in.  I asked “What do I say?”  Somewhere between Earth and the edge of the universe exists the radio waves of a squeaky-voiced 16 year old saying “This is Pat O’Neill filling in for Wolfman Jack.”