Friday, March 27, 2015

Resume -1

I have no idea if I'm quitting radio or not, but I've been thinking about my career in that business a lot lately.

My first radio gig was in Beckley. I worked for a guy named Al. He treated us all kind of poorly and cheated people whenever he got the chance.

I got the job because I was willing to put up with a lot of shit. The interview had been a relentless mocking of my experience and newly minted educational accomplishment. I hadn't walked out on him and I hadn't jumped across the desk and put my hands around his throat.

That probably meant something. 

He didn't heat the building in the winter and the on-air staff used to hole up in the control room with a space heater somebody brought from home. You had to stuff a towel under the gap below the door to keep the heat in --and it was never enough.

I worked nights and weekends.

It wasn't so bad and when I was down a car, I could walk to the job.

One night, after midnight, a man in car followed me. He rolled the passenger side window down and tried to offer me a ride.

I declined.

"I just want to talk," he said.

I kept walking.

He followed and I ducked down a side street.

He looped around and came looking for me.

I slipped away, but the same scene played out a couple of other times before I finally moved.

Another night, a couple of junkies, huffing paint on the roof of the building where I worked, tried to break in through a side door. The station manager, John, lived in an apartment on the third floor and was working that night. He called the cops.

"Hey, I've got a break-in over here!"

The Beckley police department were across the street.

They asked him if they had gotten inside the buidling. He told them, no. They told him until they actually got through the door, it wasn't a break-in.

He fired three rounds into the door, while he was on the phone.

They came running, put the crooks in cuffs and took John's gun.

He was pissed about the gun, had to go to court to get it back, but he had a couple of others lying around.

There were a lot of guns in that place.

Al kept what looked like a sawed off shotgun in his desk. John said he'd seen him shoot it at a couple of honest-to-God hobos who'd jumped off a train and were down below the building, messing with his car.   

Eventually, Al sold the station off and we got new owners who occupied some offices and quietly went bankrupt over some bad coal deals. The only real thing I remember about them was that they didn't approve of me wearing sweat pants on Saturday.

At the end of the run, they more or less sold the station off to another radio company. They offered to keep me around if I was willing to continue working Sunday mornings and manage the African-American preachers who came in and did their shows.

They'd been doing their shows for years. Some of them were pretty good. Al seemed to despise them. He called them, "his nigger preachers," but they paid on time and they paid in cash. They were practically the only reliable source of income the station had.

I could keep doing Sunday mornings, they said, if I was also willing to take a two dollar an hour pay-cut.

My answer was to take another job.

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