Wednesday, March 18

Part 7 ... The summer of 1949 passed all to quickly and soon it was September and I was driving Shirley back to Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond. Her first year in school, we wrote each other all the time as phone calls were far to costly. When she went back to school this time her letters were less frequent and the tone of the letters changed. I didn't know it at the time but she had found someone else at college. I wrote but she didn't. One Friday afternoon the Program Director - Charlie Metcalf came in and told me the manager - Fred Bullard wanted to see me in his office when my shift was over. I went in and I knew something was wrong when he shut the door. He never really looked at me and started telling me how things had changed in the last 6-8 months and how the mines closing had affected the station. He finally got to the point and said that I was going to be laid off - fired - effective in two weeks. I wasn't the only one. They also laid off the receptionist and the record librarian at the station. So in a period of two weeks I had lost my girlfriend and my job. I don't believe I have ever felt so low as I did at that time.

After feeling sorry for myself for a day or so I knew I had to figure out what I wanted to do. I had a few dollars saved but I knew that wouldn't last long. I had rent, food, and car payments to make and I was a thousand miles from home. I knew I wanted to stay in radio so I sent out resumes' as fast as I could to stations all over. There were no duplicating machines so I had to type each letter which was time consuming. I had been out of work for a week or two when I was talking to George Davis and he was on his way to Pikeville to play at the station there and he said why not come with him and apply in person at that station. Good idea. So while George did his program I talked to the program director. They didn't have any openings but I auditioned for him anyway. On the way back to Hazard George remembered a station in Paintsville and why not try there since it was only a few miles out of our way. We got there and I talked to the station manager and it so happened one of his announcers had just quit that day and he wanted to know how soon I could start. No audition or anything. That was on Friday and by Monday I was on WSIP. The station was owned by Howes Meade who had been a U.S. Senator for one or two terms and he set up WSIP as cheaply as possible. Where as WKIC was set up in the basement of the bank building, and had bright studios that had been built specifically for broadcasting, WSIP was located upstairs in an old department store. The studios were just three rooms that they just tore out a wall and put in some glass so you could see in from the control room. The news machine sat out in the hall along with a few records that made up the record collection. They were just piled up one on top of the another. All the announcer had records of their own that they used for some of their programs. Worst of all none of the studios were air conditioned. I only worked at the Paintsville station from October to May so I can only imagine what the summer months must have been like. But for all of it's faults I was happy just to be working again at something I liked.

The first week I was there a young girl came into the control room saying she had heard me and wanted to meet me. Her name was Barbara King. We talked awhile and she said she had dated the announcer that had just left. She invited me to a party at her house the following weekend. Since I had nothing to do I said yes as I was anxious to get acquainted in Paintsville. She met me at the station on Friday and we drove to her house. When we arrived I noticed there was no one else there but I just thought they would come later. When I asked her who else was coming she said, "just you." This bothered me since she looked like she was just 16 or 17 years old. I stuck around an hour or so. I was 21 at the time. Barbara kept coming to the station and I took her home a few times. I found out a little later that she was just 15 years old. It made me even more uncomfortable when I found out her father was the County Attorney. I immediately started looking elsewhere.

1 comment:

  1. Your writing really draws me in. It respects the reader by offering a healthy flow of words and keeps things from wandering. Very tight and focused. Will you publish a book?