A trip to the "Furniture Room": turning another mile on the ol' employment odometer
It's not often I get a personal hand-written note from the boss.
"Hard to believe it's been 31 years since you cracked the mike here at Radio City," Steve Wexler wrote. It's dated September 22 which apparently is my anniversary. And, since I received it on the 17th, I guess my job is safe for at least the next five days. After that, who knows? It IS radio, after all.
I was in a melancholy haze after getting it, and wandered down the hall to where said mike was first cracked.
A door marked "Furniture Room" leads to what passed for WKTI in 1982. The room behind it held the automation system that ran the station since it's creation and still held serve on the overnights before Bob Reitman and I took to the air at 6 a.m.
It was here that Bob and I would first meet each morning around 3 or 4 a.m., He'd make the coffee we'd glug from a shared thermos--he had his own specific formula and was more than happy to brew it--and we'd hash over what had happened since last we'd been on the air. It was here that the Cabbage Patch idea germinated.
The the door on the right led to a small production studio. The one on the left led to a tiny hallway...
...and eventually the on-air studio.
It was here that Bob and I did our first primitive shows together, learning how each other clicked. "Hollywood Squares" host Peter Marshall sat in the corner to the right, hunched over a mike and fighting off a bad cold while being a total pro touting some local project (he was our first "celebrity" interview). Milwaukee Melvin called in to tell us the latest goings-on at Pabst. It was here that Leslie Nielsen introduced us to his "friend"--a hand-held bellows that made spot-on fart noises, a machine he put to great use while I was on air doing the news. Miller Lite All Stars were here, as were Pete Vuckovich and Gorman Thomas.
Trust me, we left in much better condition than this when we bailed to bigger, better digs, the ones that now belong to Danny Clayton, Gretchen Bartlett (pictured) and the rest of 94-5 Lake FM.
I didn't see much furniture in my trip to the "Furniture Room". Bumped into a lot of ghosts, though, and conjured up plenty of great memories. Lost track of a lot of the folks I worked with here, but stayed in touch with some others including Bob (whose oldest son and latest radio partner just got married a few weeks ago). I thought I'd done it all when I walked through those doors 31 years ago next week. I had no idea what kind of adventure awaited.
KTI was an afterthought back then, the sorry FM sibling to an AM giant and a legendary local TV station, both right down the hall. We gained respect as the station garnered traction. A 24 year ride would ensue, ending with Reitman's 2006 retirement.
A note from the boss. A walk down the hall.
Great times. Fabulous memories. Tons of laughs. A little melancholy.