Wednesday, March 11
Part 2 ... 1948 ... I finally arrived in Hazard sometime after dark. I got off the bus in my green wool plaid suit. It was a hot spring evening. With my two old suitcases I started down the streets of Hazard looking for a place to spend the night. For it's size Hazard had a great number of taxi cabs. All the cab drivers stood on Main Street and I had to walk by them. Now Hazard was not the most cosmopolitan town but I know I looked like some hick from out of town. There were comments made but I just kept on walking. There were three hotels in town and the first two were filled. The last was a run down place at the end of the street and yes they did have a room. I took it. It was a mess and none too clean but at that point I'd have slept anywhere. There was a bathroom down the hall. It was noisy, but I slept soundly. The next morning I started looking for WKIC. In doing so it was back down the same street past the same cab drivers. To get to WKIC you walked down an alley and down the back stairs under the People's Bank. It was a hot morning and I was still wearing the wool suit and I was sweating when I went in. I was pleasantly surprised to find a brightly painted interior with air conditioning. The receptionist, Elizabeth Warren, was expecting me and took me in to meet the manager - Fred Bullard. He got the Program Director - Charlie Metcalf and Sales Manager - Dick Goodlette and I started feeling better all the time. The first thing they asked was where I spent the night and when I told them they started to laugh. It seems that I spent my first night in Hazard in Hazard's house of ill repute. The next thing Fred told me was that they wanted to give me a new radio name - and change my first name Max to Don. I would be Don Smith on WKIC. I hadn't thought of it but the "x" in Max and the "s" in Smith run together when you say them together. Also, although they didn't say it, but Max sounds Jewish. Don Smith was fine with me. They gave me the afternoon shift and I was to be on the air from 12 to 7 and every third weekend I opened up and worked the morning shift. I was to be paid 90 cents an hour, $36.00 a week or about the same as I made in the mines but here I was safe, clean, dry and doing something I really wanted to do. Fred had made arrangements for a room with an older couple just a block from the station on High Street. He took me to meet them. I stayed at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Tatum. He was retired and his wife worked at the post office. The first thing I did was to shave and take a bath which I really needed. I went back to the station and met with the announcer I was to replace. He was doing a record show at the time and we talked off the air a few minutes and when the record ended he introduced me and turned the show over to me. Just like that I was a radio announcer.