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From The Rearview Mirror

"true wisdom only comes from pain"

Updated: 2018-04-18T22:08:16.894-05:00


In My Time of Dying


As I literally wait for a friend to take his last breath after a four year battle....I am reminded of what an incredibly lucky man I am. I've met Presidents and rock royalty, but in the end, don't we all want just more time?George Harrison likened death to just passing on into another room. I hope I'm that calm.I found this today from Kevin Smith, who was a bit out of my wheelhouse. "Clerks" was when I was after thirty three...but he sums it up so incredibly well..."I was trying to do a killer stand up special this evening but I might’ve gone too far. After the first show, I felt kinda nauseous. I threw up a little but it didn’t seem to help. Then I started sweating buckets and my chest felt heavy. Turns out I had a massive heart attack. The Doctor who saved my life at Glendale Hospital told me I had 100% blockage of my LAD artery (also known as “the Widow-Maker” because when it goes, you’re a goner). If I hadn’t canceled the second show to go to the hospital, the Doc said I would’ve died tonight. For now, I’m still above ground! But this is what I learned about myself during this crisis: death was always the thing I was most terrified of in life. When the time came, I never imagined I’d ever be able to die with dignity - I assumed I’d die screaming, like my Dad (who lost his life to a massive heart attack). But even as they cut into my groin to slip a stent into the lethal Widow-Maker, I was filled with a sense of calm. I’ve had a great life: loved by parents who raised me to become the individual I am. I’ve had a weird, wonderful career in all sorts of media, amazing friends, the best wife in the world and an incredible daughter who made me a Dad. But as I stared into the infinite, I realized I was relatively content. Yes, I’d miss life as it moved on without me - and I was bummed we weren’t gonna get to make #jayandsilentbobreboot before I shuffled loose the mortal coil. But generally speaking, I was okay with the end, if this was gonna be it. I’ve gotten to do so many cool things and I’ve had so many adventures - how could I be shitty about finally paying the tab. But the good folks at the Glendale Hospital had other plans and the expertise to mend me. Total strangers saved my life tonight. This is all a part of my mythology now and I’m sure I’ll be facing some lifestyle changes (maybe it’s time to go Vegan). But the point of this post is to tell you that I faced my greatest fear tonight... and it wasn’t as bad as I’ve always imagined it’d be. I don’t want my life to end but if it ends, I can’t complain. It was such a gift."I was ok with the end." I think I will be too.A life filled with great adventures.[...]

Key To The Highway


The funny things in life you write about.I was chatting with a friend today and somehow the phrase "taking a new road without a map" came up. For some reason, it stuck. I got to pondering how many times in my life I took a new road without a map. Now, before that, on trips, I used to be the map kid. With my trusty always perfectly folded up guide to places I had never seen, I could tell you the next turn was approximately 6 miles down the road. Insufferable in the car.A new road without a map?Wow, a lot to digest in one setting. I can make this career related and then get personal later.I'll say it was early on.12ish, putting together my little radio station in my bedroom,in the middle of nowhere, complete with a 5 inch reel to reel, a cassette player that had an AM radio built in, a record player and a cheap microphone. I cursed the DJ that talked all the way to the beginning of the vocals because damn it, that was my job. What fun, but quite eccentric for a kid reading Encyclopedia Brown books as fast as they could make them. I was so enamored with the radio. Every Thursday night the local station would count down the top 30 songs of the week and I'd write them down. Every Thursday night. I remember getting mad that "I Got You Babe" by Sonny and Cher kept "Satisfaction" out of the number one spot. I was furious. What to do from here? I was enthralled with radio at its best, certainly a new road but no map.When I graduated from radio school it was ok, what now?Where do I go to follow this dream that has so far cost me my marriage, my relationship with my father and overall great consternation among the close knits? "The boy has lost his mind." "Why on earth would he leave a great job in the foundry? He could retire there." It sure seemed like I had lost my mind. I walked out the door to no job, but dang it I had a tape. The map appeared about two weeks into the search when I strong armed my way on the air at the local country station. Now, not only did I have a tape, but I had a tape of me actually being on air. That turned into my first full time job and then three years later...the map disappeared again.At this point in the journey, I was half asleep when I got the call.All I wanted was to sleep. Getting up at 3:45 made sure I slept in shifts; 4 to 5 hours at night, two to three in the afternoon if at all possible. I was groggy as someone named Max Floyd from Kansas City said something about him not knowing how my tape (see?) ended up on his desk, but he had an opening at the station. "What station? Who? Is this a joke?" No joke, three weeks later, I was sitting in the drivers seat of a UHaul trailer with a garbage bag of home grown that I almost went through by the time I got all the way through Iowa bound for the bright lights and the big city, the home of pretty little women and damn it, I'm gonna get me one. Right before I left for KC, I got cold feet and my dear Aunt Jane almost slapped the shit out of me. "Isn't this what you have spent your life waiting for? Isn't this your dream? Kansas City or Moline? You want the big time or do you want to be comfortable? I think you know your answer" Little did she know the job I left paid more than the job I accepted. I got to KC about 6pm on a Sunday night, knowing no one, or where anything was. All I knew is I had to find the Howard Johnson's downtown.This was a literal interpretation of our subject as I had no map.  It's getting late, I can't find the hotel, the neighborhood is dicey and I'm about ready to call Aunt Jane form a pay phone to tell her exactly what I think. Then, it appeared. The Howard Johnson sign. I checked in, locked my truck, went to my room and cried myself to sleep.  I woke up the next morning anticipating a road without a map.I've always taken the blue highways whenever possible.I used to take vacations by pulling a direction out of a hat and just leaving that way. No maps, no deadlines, no worries. As I've gotten older, I've had a bit of wanderlust, I like taking off in new directions and traveling w[...]

A New Day


Sometimes in life, we find ourselves "off the track".
My good friends know the last six months have found me so off the track, I don't know where it is...disappointments, falsehoods, game playing, heartbreak in relationships, health, employment...whatever, can grind you down like pencil lead.
When two of my best friends told me a couple of weeks ago "I look behind your eyes and I see nothing in there," I knew it was time to start over. 
Then a very sweet friend sent me this today...for anyone who has found themselves off the track and wondered..."is this it?"
Maybe you can start over...
"You can get yourself a small room in a new city where no one knows your name
just yet
but they will,
for they will see you walking quietly through the market on Sunday mornings,
and sitting at the cafe on Tuesdays
scribbling thoughts in that worn out notebook,
or in the library between the shelves of different worlds, and late on Friday evenings
you will sit peacefully in the corner of the pub
by yourself
and you will be okay with that.
Some nights beautiful women will buy you drinks and ask your name
and you will smile, but be okay with walking home alone
because one day someone will know you
without asking your name
and that’s the person that matters.
So wait a few years,
until you can get yourself a small room in a new city where no one knows your name
just yet
but they will
and there will be an older lady
knocking at your door
saying hi and you’re very welcome,
and you can have a garden
where only flowers grow, with no thorns, that you plant yourself,
and on sunny mornings in April
you can sit and watch them bloom
a little more each day,
just like you do,
bloom a little more
each day.
And on crisp winter mornings in January you can drink coffee in the cold
on your own front porch
and the town is empty
but full
of other things
like space.
And hope.
And purity.
Wait a few years,
when things are clearer, and you will go on well. Just hold on
and wait.
You WILL be ok."
-Charlotte Erickson

I am starting over. In a new town. You?

In Search Of...."God?"


I've reached a point in my life where "God" or whatever "he/she" may be is so far removed from my life, it's scary. I realize other people don't share my belief there is something bigger out there, hell two of my kids don't believe in "it" at all. That's fine. If you choose not to believe, you believe in that choice, and that's OK.So, where do you go to find "God"?"He's in your heart" a good friend said. Not that easy."He works through you," added another.So, does that means if I do good works, be nice, generous, kind, considerate, he (we'll use he subjectively) will magically appear?So when searching for "God" where do we start?I was listening to some blue grass music on the way home from work today and I thought how many people find God in bluegrass music. Alison Krauss was featured and I think she's pretty godly.So, where do we start?I think first we must define God. I see God as not quite a person, but a guiding force that guides us, maybe a conscience, an intuition, a second sense that, if allowed, will hopefully allow us to make choices in our lives that enrich us, surround us with a feeling of comfort knowing we are doing the right thing.I have a guardian angel. I know it. When I was three, my next door neighbor was a guy of about 21, who would let me ride in convertible, wash his car and, from what I gather was crazy about me. He drowned on his wedding day and I guess for the next few weeks I would come over ans wonder where Bobby was. It got to the point that my mom wouldn't let me go outside because she knew how much it upset Bobby's mom for me to go over there.It's him. He's my guardian angel. Don't ask why I know, I just do.But as that proof of God? I don't know, if I feel he's my guardian angel, then I must recognize there is something out there, bigger than us. I know I have felt his presence a number of times in my life, and the times I have ignored that instinct, that feeling, I've usually made the wrong decision. I know people will poo poo all this, but there HAS to be something to believe in.The last six months of my life have been me walking around the desert waiting for manna to drop from heaven. It seems like it's been kick Randy in the nuts everyday season. From failed relationships, to being gaslighted by someone I trusted respected, admired and adored, to losing my job, to just about anything you can think of, I've been through it. Where the hell has God been through all of this?Maybe right here lurking but not posting. Maybe nowhere to be seen. I sure haven't felt God lately.So, I'm on a search to find "him." "I'm on the road to find out..." as Cat Stevens once said.Let's take a look at the simple things...a walk in the woods, a bike ride feeling the wind in your face as you go faster and faster. Maybe simple smile, hello or a kind gesture now and then when someone least expects it.I've reached November in the calendar of my years, maybe even mid November and I know I need to find "him" soon.The way I look at it, it's kinda like Pascal's Wager, it is an argument in apologetic philosophy devised by the seventeenth century French philosopher, mathematician and physicist Blaise Pascal (1623–62).It posits that humans bet with their lives that God either exists or does not.Pascal argues that a rational person should live as though God exists and seek to believe in God. If God does actually exist, such a person will have only a finite loss (some pleasures, luxury, etc.), whereas they stand to receive infinite gains (as represented by eternity in Heaven) and avoid infinite losses.Whatever that means...I think it means if there IS a God, and you have lived your life denying his existence then you are standing before him in the afterlife, how do you explain it to him? I'll report back with various clues along the way.[...]

Generation Landslide or Funny How Time Slips Away


I got a text from my daughter the other day and it was very interesting. She said since moving to Los Angeles, she's started gravitating to the classic rock stations. "I guess I knew it would happen someday."I think she's a little put out at happened at only 26. She said she's noticed they play the same songs over and over and she's looking for something else.She's asked me to make CDs of "my music" for her so she can listen to them.Whaaaat?I was a bit taken back by this and I wanted classification, so I texted her "what exactly do you mean by 'my music'"? "Songs YOU think I need to hear."Child, there are hundreds you NEED to hear."Send them."That's my girl!!Since the Time Machine on Thursday morning dealt with 1971, I started there.Her first CD will include The Rolling Stones (three from Sticky Fingers), Marvin Gaye (three from What's Going On), James Taylor (three from Mud Slid Slim)and about eight John Denver tunes.She wants a description why each song should be on there.The Stones, Marvin and James are no brainers, the John Denver requires a bit of explanation.I was his doppelganger in high school, His first BIG song came out in 1971 (between freshman and sophomore years) all the way through 1975. He was Johnny Carson's fill in, had his own show and was a movie star (Oh God!).john or me? me or john?There are a hand full of people I didn't know who I have cried about when they died. John Denver was one. While he could be very pedestrian, his good stuff ranks right up with me as some of the best of all time.I thought a could cover the Beatles in two CDs. Not even close. Not three. It looks like four. Maybe.I'll keep you informed of what happens.With great sadness I found out about Chris Squire succumbing to cancer earlier today. The picture above was taken in 1984 at a park off state line in Kansas City. Yes came to town wanting to play softball for some reason. Chris Squire is in the van. Most of the band came ready to play but Chris Squire was dressed in boots and wasn't really interested. He sat on the bench, chain smoking cigarettes; in fact lighting one off another. I sat next to him for a minute and the conversation went like this..."Hey man, those things will kill ya." "It's probably a bit too late for that, mate.""Not a softball fan?" "No not really, I just come out to these things to hang around and see new and different things. I'm not really into exercise, that's why I play the bass." (he laughs)I told him the first Yes song I ever heard was "Your Move"."That's a good one to find us by", he said."What was it about?""Love is such a chess game, you make your moves for future plans, and the next thing you know, checkmate, she's got you."I told him how much time I spent under the headphones with his band and that Yes was definitely in my top ten of all time."Why not top five?" he laughed.He was gracious and thanked me, I shook his massive hand (they were like concrete blocks) and I moved along to do something else. I remember he was a massive human being, especially with those boots on.  He was also very charming. Cancer sucks.Drew Johnson from KSHE has asked my to cut a small piece about my time there and KSHE will play it on the air. It will go something like this..."when I stood up at graduation from radio school in 1976 we were all asked where we wanted to be in ten years. I proudly got up, threw my chest out and said I would be doing afternoons at KSHE 95 in St. Louis. Cue the rounds of laughter.I made it in nine years. When I go back and look at my career, my time there provided the most interesting and fulfilling chapters in the book and the brightest colors in the picture of my life.13 years I'll never forget and cherish forever. It was always a privilege and one I NEVER took for granted. Thank you for listening, and thank you for allowing me to come into your life every afternoon. I thought we made a great pair."95% of my time at KSHE was heaven. The other 5% is for another day.[...]

Little Victories


One of the cool things about this blog is I never know where you have joined the story.One radio station or another, East Moline, KSHE, I never know. So, if this is redundant, my apologies.My early life was largely spent on a farm in the middle of nowhere. Small town restless and bored, this was truly a place where you had to make your own fun. Ava, Missouri, population at the time 2,504, now over 3,000. Beautiful northern Ozark Mountain range.Pleasures were small and fun could mean anything from watching a big old frog swallow a firecracker and the aftermath to listening to the sounds of nature on a hot summer night. There was a symphony played out every evening that drew you to a bedroom window when everyone else was asleep. I was always fascinated with being outside back then. Again, we go back to the smell. Pristine.I recently came upon a story about the two kids in Maryland who walk to school every day and how the parents are now being prosecuted for allowing their kids to do that.My mother would have a few things to say about this. She firmly believed in letting her kids find their way. For better or worse, we knew what we could do and not do.My mother came from a very hard-scrapple background growing up in Simmons MO, which is south of Solo, which is in the middle of nowhere.Getting beat down on a regular basis made my mother tough as nails. She finished fights started by her brothers and could smoke and drink the best under the table."True Wisdom Only Comes From Pain"One of the highlights about living on the farm is you could be gone from sun up to sun down and no one paid any attention. Freedom. It was encouraged. "Go get the stink blowed off ya" was my mom's favorite saying.One of my favorite things to do on the weekend in the summer when I could bribe my grandfather into handling my chores was go exploring.I'd put together a pack of things necessary to survive a day or two in the wild. Innertube for floating, tent, small camp stove, fishing pole, transistor radio,etc etc.I'd leave on Friday and walk, following a creek until it became dark or impassible or until I got tired of lugging the stuff around.Usually, if there were fish around , I'd float and drop a line behind me. Most always, I caught something and could be assured of dinner. There were a couple of times I wasn't so lucky. I'd stop at a suitable place and set up camp, usually, in the most remote God forsaken spot ever. I liked it like that. I would build a fire, cook fish and just hang. Little victories. Character. Perseverence.I was 14.Survival man got nothing on this boy.Every once in awhile, I'd get an unexpected visitor, but I figured if they caught my karma, me knowing I was in their house, we'd be cool. And we were.I was 14.It was that kind of freedom, knowing I could go anywhere for as long as I want at 14 that made me the independent person I am now. That gene has been passed to my daughters as I know they each moved out of their house at the legal age and never moved back. We move in small circles.While I was there, I hated the farm. I know now it provided the strength and fortitude to know what real poverty was like. It made me tough. Like I know what tough is.The fun stuff was pure. We had swimming holes. Vera Cruz, Big Piney, Flat Rock, etc. We had two TV stations on a good night from a town 60 miles away. We had AM radio.We had a party line. Four shorts rings was for "old Mrs. Harris".We had horses. Ours were named Scout and Gayboy. Yeah. Gayboy. I was 14.We had discipline, having to get up every morning, do the chores, go to school, come home, do the chores, do homework, listen to the radio, go to bed, get up every morning, etc.But it seemed just about every Saturday morning, there would be a number of people gathered around a table with lots of food. Eggs, bacon, pancakes, all cooked in a skillet with lard and farm fresh butter, recently churned and salted. And laughter. For all he[...]

Take The Long Way Home


I love this time of year. It seems this is the time of beginnings and endings.The ending of the college basketball season always sets my internal syncopation up a step. All I know is I hope someone beats Kentucky in the tournament. I'm just about always rooting for the under dog in the tournament. Northern Iowa (my daughter's alma mater) has done that twice. Once in the early 90's they took out a very talented Missouri team and about five years ago did the same to the mighty Jayhawks.Don't pick them because I'm rooting for them and that is a certain kiss of death. Days like today should be spent outside as much as possible. Since I'm trying to destroy about 100 pounds, tonight was a great night for a bike ride as I put another 14 miles on the odometer. Later, as the sun started to go down, I walked over to the local Hen House grocery store and after  I decided to take the long way home. I'm at a pretty decent place in my life at this point. I like my job, most of the people I work with, my "mother in laws" quarter is pretty centrally located in suburban Johnson county and I'm within walking distance of movies, the grocery store, a Quik trip, a Chinese restaurant and so on. The neighborhood I reside in would be considered middle class, maybe a couple of the houses might move up to lower upper middle class, but I picture these houses as being built in the 60s and 70s. Some starter homes here and there but the majority have been lived in awhile by the same family. My abode is the back of a house owned by an older couple. One of their parents lived here for a while and passed not too long before I got here. I have the essentials, or as my father would say, I have a place to "shit, shower and shave." I can cook here and it's just handy. 15-20 minutes in to work and for whatever reason, 25-30 minutes home. As I was walking through the neighborhood tonight, I immersed myself in all the smells as I've been known to do. It's freaky really, that just a waft of a cigarette smell still reminds me of my mother. I can't stand to be around it, but just that  faint smell sends me back. Someone in the neighborhood had a fire going, someone liked very spicy food. I smelled fried chicken too (another one of my favorite smells) but I'm not sure whether it came from someone's house or the Popeyes a mile or so away.Tonight also reminded me of working in the drive in theatre for some strange reason, too. I will still say that job was one of the best I've ever had. There were weeks where I'd put in 60-65 hours a week and get paid $1.25. I remember the summer of 1973, I got a 10 cent raise to $1.40, so I went and blew at all on a brand new stereo component system. I still have the receiver too. Cranks like a boss. Anyway, this would be the time of year I'd go to work on the weekend getting the theatre ready for human consumption. Opening weekend was usually the first weekend in April and the first few nights were always cold. You could get a propane heater up front at the box office if you wanted. I always wondered why no one died while inhaling that damned heater. It was a Redstone theatre, yes the head of the company was one Sumner Redstone, one of the richest guys in the world and he was known to drop in on places like Silvis Illinois to check out his property. What an incredible opportunity for me at the age of 17 to be the assistant manager in charge of making sure this theatre rocked. And it did.Funny how I think of that.It's amazing to me what lies in our sub conscious, just below our everyday world that's looking to escape, given the right circumstances. Whether it's by smell, sight, music or any other stimulus, it seems so many things accumulate there. Some things need to me let out, allowed to breathe and when that happens, I can get overwhelmed at times.As I'm writing this, I'm listening to John Mellemcamp sing "make me feel like I want to feel, make me [...]

So Long


The last time I was this upset about someone passing I didn't know was when George Carlin died. I would not have done what I did for a living if not for Larry Lujack. He was the bar for an entire generation of would be wanna be broadcasters.I first heard Larry when I moved to the Quad Cities in 1971.I had been a fan of WLS for years as it was a long distance beacon for a lonely kid growing up on a farm in the middle of nowhere. I was 12 when I got my first radio to call my own. It was a combo AM/FM/cassette recorder that I could sit in my bedroom window and listen to world from far away places like Chicago, Little Rock, Nashville, Denver and the like.I never really had much of a family life on the farm as my mom was usually pretty hammered by the time I got home from school (she still did the best she could), my father wasn't around, my brother was in Viet Nam, my sister was too young to understand so the radio became my escape. In the wintertime, the low power radio stations would sign off at 4:30 or 5pm and the wham, the great clear channel AM blow torches from all over the country would bellow into my room through the airwaves and out the new fangled fancy device I would have propped up in my window. I would get home from school, do my chores and then lock myself in my room, listening to WLS, KAAY, WLAC, KOA and whatever far away signal I could get. It would be on when I went to sleep and I'd wake up to white noise as the big powerful stations would be lost in the AM haze.My escape. My solace was those guys on the radio. I wanted to be like them.WLS became my favorite as they played great hit music and had jocks who could tell stories over a 13 second intro. Those stories were funny, interesting, topical and marvelous. It was at that time I knew what I wanted to do for a living.We moved from the farm to East Moline in May of 1971. I was then able to hear WLS all day. The guy that made it sound so easy, so simple, so relaxed was Larry Lujack. We had a great AM station in the Quad Cities (KSTT) that featured wonderful guys that sounded great but there was something about WLS. The big time, the big city, travelling through the airwaves from 200 miles away.It was magical.Here was Larry, sounding so spur of the moment, like he made it up as he went along. The pregnant pauses, the shuffling of papers, the timing, the wit, the humor. Like great musicians, it was so smooth, so effortless, so natural, so funny. I realize when I got into the business, that he had to be unbelievably prepared to make it sound so spontaneous.There were times I'd be driving somewhere in my car and he would have me laughing so hard, I couldn't do anything but cry. I remember still having my fancy schmancy AM/FM/cassette a few years later and trying to record his daily versions of animal stories, a collection of humorous stories he would gather about animals. He would read them with the mid day guy Little snot nosed Tommy Edwards ( a great jock in his own right). He would crack Tommy up so bad, Tommy couldn't breathe.Neither could I.What a talent, what a gift for knowing how to be so relatable, to be the guy you invited into your car, your house, your life every day. You were sad when it was time for him to sign off.Larry was your obnoxious but hilarious friend that no matter how hard you tried, you couldn't stop laughing with him.I wanted to sound like him.It was a time that while the music was the reason you listened, you couldn't imagine not having Larry in between the songs telling stories over the intro that made you laugh, think, feel and care what he had to say.Sadly, it isn't that way anymore.I've said it before on this blog where I've pointed out that I've reached the age my mom warned  me about.  Not long before she died, she told me she didn't recognize the world anymore, things were moving so fast, everyone she ever care[...]

Rock Me On the Water


One of the things I enjoy doing is reading in church. I have been a bit removed from the Catholic faith in the past few years due to it's direction and the church becoming more inclusive and less appealing to those who have a different point of view about what the church doctrine is. In my heart of hearts I believe Jesus loves everyone, regardless of who they love or who they are. It seems the new pope is more concerned with what the church is rather than what it isn't. I guess that's the more liberal side of me talking. I guess you can say I'm not as religious as I should be, but I am a very spiritual man and have been for most of my life. My mother was a big believer in going to church and while I wasn't a fan of it at the time, I think the things we are exposed to as a child come back to visit us in different ways as we get older. We went to church on Sunday mornings, Sunday nights (when we didn't go to the bowling alley during my father's leagues) and on Wednesday nights, wherever the services were held. I can remember going to church at the Oddfellows Hall in downtown Moline. I remember helping build and attending the Green Rock Baptist Church in my youth. Now, we can get into the theological debate and whether there was (or is) a Jesus. There are some of my friends and family that don't believe in any of this, that there is no God, and that's fine. To each their own. I don't love them any less for what they do or don't believe. All I know is if there is a divine being and I get to meet him/her in the afterlife, I don't want to stand in front of them and deny their existence. At that time, I can envision him/her pulling the lever on the trap door to hell. That's just me.I volunteered to read for someone who couldn't be at the 11 am mass yesterday. As I was feeling a bit sorry for myself, not having a job and all, I got to the church a bit late. I surrounded my self with doubt and I was feeling a wee bit sorry for myself. The lectors, servers and all who make up the mass were meeting in the sacristy as is custom. Today, it was a bit full in the room as we were celebrating a baptism of a new baby born recently to a young couple and Father Jack was going through the service and how it worked. After the explanation, all in the room makes the sign of the cross on the baby's forehead. How unworthy was I to do that? I happened to notice, as the explanation was given, the father of the baby needed a walker and when he was spoken to, and could hardly speak back. I couldn't figure out whether he had some kind of muscular degenerative disease or he has suffered some kind of head trauma in battle. I know he shuffled with his walker and his speech was halting and he had to be helped to get the words out. My heart sank. Here was this beautiful young woman, her baby in her arms and this burly, young man who was obviously facing a burden I couldn't even imagine. How foolish of me to dwell on the fact that I had a road in front of me when it came to finding a job when this man, who was probably half my age, was struggling to walk and talk. He relied an someone (I will guess it was his brother)to make sure he was understood. He has his entire life in front of him, however long it may be, to cope with not being able to fend for himself, to hold his daughter, to embrace his wife, to communicate, to live a normal life. It took all I had not to get emotional. The service started and my reading was the second reading which went like this: "Brothers and sisters:May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father,who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragementand good hope through his grace,encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deedand word.Finally, brothers and sisters, pray for us,so that the word of the Lord may speed forward and be glorified,as it did among you,and that we ma[...]

RIP Lou Reed


So long, Lou. I am actually surprised you lasted this long.
With all the drugs and unprotected sex you've had with both sexes, making it to 71 is quite the feat.
I first saw Lou in concert in Iowa City where he shared the bill with Jethro Tull.
He and his great band opened for JT and that was the first and only time I saw someone do heroin onstage.
During the song "White Light, White Heat," he took the microphone cord, used it to tie himself off and I swear he shot himself up that night. My friend who was with me saw it too. we just looked at each other in disbelief.
He also holds the record for my shortest interview.
I talked to him backstage at the first Farm Aid in 1985. He was not in to talking with anyone at all. When it came my turn to chat with him, it was toward the end of the day and I could tell he was getting annoyed with Midwest DJs asking him the same questions over and over.
Through the drags on his cigarette I aked something to the effect of, how do you feel playing in the Midwest with country acts on the bill raising money for farmers?
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" he huffed and with that, he walked away, he was done.
To me, his career featured great the hell did he get away with a reference of giving head on "Walk on the Wild Side"? Even when I was in high school, I knew what he meant.
"Rock and Roll Animal" was a live masterpiece. It was mostly because of his band which featured Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner..
I never got the Velvet Underground. I guess I'm not east coast enough.

The rest of his catalog is hit or miss with "Metal Machine Music" being the biggest piece of crap I ever spent money on.

See ya Lou

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Small Circles


I just had dinner with one of my favorite cousins tonight.
We ate at Rudy's, always a hangout over on the Illinois side. He and his wife are always enjoyable, even though he's a lifelong Pirates fan.
One the way home, I cruised through the radio dial.
I think I heard Katy Perry twice and skimmed to see what my old station WXLP (97X) was playing.
As I passed the old studios at 1111 East River Drive, one of the songs we made famous came on the airwaves. As I started listening to it, the signal wasn't quite as clear as I remember it.
Maybe it was just me, or maybe it's always been that way and I never noticed but there was a bit of "washing" as I drove in downtown Davenport. I wonder if the tower is still in Orion (pronounced o-ree-on), as Orion is about 30 miles from downtown Davenport.
I must have played this song more than a few thousand times in my career but I always remember it fondly.
Almost like Boston.
Lord knows how many times I've played the first Boston album in my radio life, but there is something about it that still rings with nostalgia. Nothing sounded like it in 1976 and nothing sounds like it now.
While this song I heard was written about a love I'm sure, for some reason, even back then, I thought it was about me and the joyous journey in front of me.
I never did really take anyone along on this journey, but the line "pack your bags we'll leave tonight" always reminded me of the opening line of WKRP in Cincinnati.
"I got tired of all the packing and unpacking..."
Anyway, I felt a great sense of deja vu when it came on and I had to drive around the block a few time outside my apartment to hear the whole thing.
It's odd I live literally four blocks from the old studios. I played the song when it was new, more than 35 years ago right down the street and I find it weird it came on as I passed the studio 35 years later with me still enthralled by the first solo release from Eddie Money.
"Two Tickets to Paradise" still makes me think about those days when radio filled me with awe.
"I want to take you on a trip so far from here..."
Later, I got to interview Eddie. I told him how that song was very special to me and whether he meant it or not, he thought it was cool it meant so many things to so many people.
He told me it was his tribute to Bruce Springsteen

Played 35 years ago on River Drive in downtown Davenport, heard 35 years later on River Drive in downtown Davenport.

We move in small circles.

"I've waited so long..."
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Basketball as Zen


This is the place I find myself. This is my place of Zen and it has been for 21 years. When I started playing basketball in March of 1992, I was out of shape with a weight of 237 pounds and a bad cholesterol number of 318. I found it by accident. After taking some verbal abuse from a co-worker one day...."hey butter ball turkey..." I decided that enough was enough and it was time to do something about my fatness.Living in Kirkwood, and doing the morning show on KSHE, I decided one day to just put the tennis shoes on and go shoot some baskets at the local YMCA. I got there about 11am, but hadn't really started any kind of official weight loss program, so I just shot and shot, trying to get the old form back that launched me to stardom in my youth.  :)About 11:45, people started streaming in to the gym and I was in the middle of what the Y called noontime basketball. By noon, we had about 13 or 14 guys I never saw before. Old, young, tall, short, fat and thin, black, white they all came in, looking for some exercise.The leader was a guy named Bob, who was the executive director at the Y.He let me know they played Monday, Wednesday and Friday at noon and I was certainly welcome.The first game I played, I had to call time out about three trips down the floor. "Ah, we don't call time out, you have to play with your team or sit until the next game", as the rules were now explained. Then it was four times up and down the floor...then five..six and on it went until in nine months, I had lost almost fifty pounds, lowered my cholesterol by over a hundred points and got in real good shape.I found my Zen place.This is where the only thing I worry about is what my next play is (or as I joked today, what play I can screw up next). No matter what has happened in my life, where I've been, where I've moved, this place is home.A gym. Not just a gym, though.The one constant in my roller coaster world. The place where nothing matters, just playing. I don't think about work, or anything but playing basketball.Over the past twenty two years, guys have come and gone and we've even had two guys die on this floor. I've made great friendships that have lasted through the years and guys who have been kicked out for being assholes who took the game way too seriously.If you don't play for fun here, you get asked to leave and it's happened a few times over the years.Cardinal broadcaster Dan McLaughlin played years ago when he was a really big guy. Kirkwood pro football star Jeremy Maclin (Eagles wide receiver) played for awhile after high school (and he schooled us).I have had three severely sprained ankles, 23 stitches under my eye, broken ribs, pulled muscles, rotator cuff surgery (too many three pointers, I guess), dislocated fingers, etc. But, I keep coming back.When I was sick, on the good days, I'd come out and play until I couldn't. The guys there at that time, cheered me on when I played and understood when I couldn't go any further. When my brother died on Saturday, I played on Monday. I had to. I got lost in the game. There have been a couple of guys "retire" from playing in the past few years. Patrick, From Webster Groves quit playing when he was 74. Jules, an accountant stopped playing earlier this year at 80.See, while winning is why we play, it's not all about that. We all play for exercise, camaraderie and because it's good for us. During the summer, the kids come home from school and we welcome them.My trash talk with them goes something like this..."man, it's gotta suck to be you. If I score on you, I'm an old man scoring on someone young enough to be my grand kid and if you score on me, you're scoring on an old man. You can't win."I played today. When I take an office day in St. Louis, part of that day will be spent w[...]

Sleep's Dark and Silent Gate


How do you sleep?
Do you sleep well?
Consider yourself lucky.

As I grow older, I find that sleep has become a precious commodity. I have found solace in drugs, Ambien became my friend for a while but also as I grow older, I just can't handle the pharmaceuticals anymore. How many who knew me in my adolescence would keel over if they heard me say that now?
Ambien makes me groggy and anxious when I take it for any length of  time. I have tried everything. A drink before bedtime? Nope.

When I was a kid, I used to go to sleep by getting out my mind eraser and slowly erase all of my thoughts and eventually, I would drift off. I guess things are a bit more complicated now.
When I was a very young child, my mom used to give me things to think about before I went to bed.
"Think of an ice cream bridge and on the other side is your favorite flavor. Now, you have to cross the bridge before the ice cream melts and you can't step too hard or you will step through the bridge and fall off".. or some ridiculous thing like that. I must say, it worked when you were eight, but not so much now.

"Deadlines and commitments, what to leave in, what to leave out..."

I find as I drift off ever so slightly, I will dream of people I haven't seen or thought about in years.

Since childhood, I've had this recurring dream of Abraham Lincoln. I have dreamt of him maybe 30 or 40 times since I was a kid. We've went fishing, driven through the Florida keys, ate dinner together and we have done a number of different things together. Consistently and with great regularity. I'm not sure what the connection might be only that my dad was born in the same town he was.
I would take a bit of Abe at this time.

All I know is that I will lay in bed all night, just dozing off enough to have real detailed, freaky and stupid dreams with people in it that just don't make sense. I had a dream the other night with someone in it that I had not thought of for 30 years. I will remember them when I wake up for a day or two, then they are filed away in the memory chip.

The routine is, I will lie there, doing everything and anything I can to sleep, changing positions, then the thinking wheel in the master cog gets started and I realize all the stuff I have to do whether it's work related or whatever.
Then, the endless movie loop starts, accompanied by the ceiling fan.
I'll doze off, start dreaming, then wake up.
Lather, rinse, repeat Then look at the clock and realize it's 4:17 am

You'd think that the following day, you'd be so tired, you'd fall right off, but alas...we repeat the drill the next night.
Any ideas or suggestions are welcome.
I would guess I've tried that.
I wonder what incredibly strange movies in my head will be showing tonight.
I'm sure Tarrentino or Fellini would be proud.

Popcorn anyone?

Talkin' About My Girls...





The Last Week Of August, 1975


I remember it well. It was a sunny, warm day.I had just moved to St. Charles Mo. after I was laid off from International Harvester in East Moline, Illinois, my hometown at the time.Every once in a while, there would be a hiccup along the parts supply route or rarely in those days, orders would be down. Sometimes these lay offs would be a couple of weeks, sometimes a couple of months, you didn't  know how long you were going to be out, but in the meantime, a person needed to find work.I had earlier talked to my uncle who was a shop steward at Artra Foundry in St. Charles. He told me to come down and he would put me to work. My cousins lived in St. Charles for many years and pretty much ruled the town. There were four bad ass brothers who would just as soon kick your ass as look at you. Harley riding guys who liked to live life on the edge.As far as I could, I'd go and hang with them, but I could never party as much as they could. Like I said, in their day, they were bikers and all that came with that. Draw your own conclusions, most of them would probably be not far off base.I temporarily moved in with my cousin and his friend in a two bedroom shack of a trailer located in the Princess Jodi trailer court not far from Boschertown, which wasn't on the right side of the tracks in a town that wasn't on the right side of the tracks.Yes, three guys with quick tempers in two bedrooms at the end of August.It was only temporary so not a big deal as I was going to work, right? I loaded up my truck in the Quad Cities and hauled my stuff to St. Charles because, as stated before, my uncle promised me work. Moving to St. Louis wouldn't be bad, I had always had an affinity for the big city and KSHE was one of the reasons why. KSHE played music that was unheard of in the Quad Cities, so, at least the radio would be decent. As I threw just about everything I owned in the back of my truck and headed to St. Louis, I was informed when I arrived that the foundry had burned to the ground the very night before. Ergo, no job for me. Not a good thing for a guy temporarily living with two other guys in a two bedroom trailer. I was very disappointed as the air had been let out of my tires. I scrambled for a job that ultimately didn't exist, my dauber was down, my mojo wasn't mojoing. On that warm sunny day late in August 1975, while riding in my cousins El Camino (you remember those, don't you?), KSHE announced that it had a copy of one of the most anticipated releases of the year from some guy named Bruce Springsteen. Who? This was truly the big city and KSHE because I had never heard of him. "Born to Run" hit the airwaves with the sound of a run away freight train through the speakers of his truck. Four and a half minutes later, I looked at the radio and said to no one in particular, "what was THAT?" This song, with it's Phil Spector wall of sound sonics, talked about chucking it all behind, grabbing your Wendy, hopping on the bike and roaring out of town with the power plant in your rear view mirror. "Wendy, I'll love you with all the madness in my soul...whoa oh!" I counted three times where this song had an orgasm so big there was NO way it was faking it. THREE different times this song led me on a roller coaster. Up, up and then YESSSSSSS! I was there. Living in my hardscrapple existence, trying to find a job and a gal who I could make it right, with, grabbing something, anything that would add to my dignity and self worth. For the love of God, I was living in a trailer park with two other guys and not even a bedroom to call my own. This cat had nailed it, painted it, wrote it and had this tune special delivered to me in a four and a half minute package.  [...]

In My Time of Dying


I knew exactly how I was going to pull it off. While Ann was gone to her rehearsal, I was going to duct tape the garden hose to the car exhaust, turn on the engine, get inside and go peacefully to sleep. I couldn't bear the chemo, radiation, the five pills in the morning, five pills at night and most importantly, the interferon, anymore.It was about eleven years ago to this day that it almost happened. It had been the longest winter in my life, as I started my regimen right after 9/11 and swore to God it would never end. The funny thing about it was, it was almost over. My Independence Day was also to be Cinco De Mayo of that year.I was diagnosed in late July and given the harshest news of my life shorty thereafter. "If your condition doesn't kill you, the treatment just might, I advise you to go on anti-depressants before you start the treatment because what you are about to go through will test you beyond your wildest dreams." Well, I did tell my doctor to shoot it to me straight. And he did.Starting in October, I jumped into my treatment without the anti-depressants because I was bigger than this, I was ready and I was sure of the manliness of my manhood. What a mistake that was. The treatments consisted of weekly chemo, radiation, the ten pills a day and the injections of interferon that took place every Friday night, so I could shake it off before Monday morning. By the way, I still cannot grow hair on the inside of my thigh where I injected myself. Talk about poison. I had just been fired from my job at the smooth jazz station in St. Louis two weeks before I started my treatments.  By the grace of God, a very good friend of mine put me to work at his mortgage company. He would close some deals for me and allow me to make just enough money to pay for my insurance there. Without him, I would have had to file bankruptcy and have something else to get depressed about.After the first week of treatments, I knew I was in trouble. The first Friday night after injecting myself and mixing the interferon with the other cocktail of drugs it made me throw up with a violence I had never experienced before. My stomach was turning inside out and depositing anything in it into the toilet, again and again all night long. The rash started in the first week and ended up extending from the top of my toes to just above my nipples. It didn't leave till it was over. The hallucinations came not long after, my hair started falling out in clumps and my appetite disappeared. I lost all my hair. My head, arms, eyebrows, legs. I looked awful. There was a picture taken of me at that time. It was burned long ago.I had six more months to go.I could only stomach peanut butter for some reason. I ate peanut butter on toast, with my fingers, in broth, anything I could do to keep the protein in me. My weight dropped to 148 pounds before it was over and my mind was the worst part of it. I couldn't shake the deep, dark hallucinations that played with my head. We lived next door to a nice couple named Pete and Amy. They had no kids and were great neighbors. I remember going over there, banging on their front door and wanting to fight Pete because I knew he was having an affair with Ann. I recall going to the store for two steaks and coming back with two pounds of meat. I drove downtown to buy Bonnie Raitt tickets and did not remember what I went down there for.It was the endless loop of a bad movie that replayed itself every night to the whine of the ceiling fan. Sweating and cold at the same time, I couldn't sleep at night and couldn't keep my eyes open during the day. The physical sickness betrayed the fact that when I started[...]

Mighty Love


RIP Bobby Smith.

This high school boy heard Bobby more than just about any other singer in that era.

I loved The Spinners and their cool, collected soul.

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"I'll Be Around" may be one of the most under rated love songs ever with "Could It Be I'm Falling In Love" and "Then Came You" not far behind.

They really don't make music like this anymore.

Love songs you could dance to.

I'll give it a 100, Dick.

Back When We Were Beautiful


Since we last met, I've changed jobs and become a part of the corporate grind. Stressed beyond belief at the beginning, it's taken me almost nine months to accept and get used to the grind. One of the things my doctor said I can do for stress is write. While I was gone, blogger moved my cheese so now I'll have to get used to this again. Let's see if I can post a picture... Well, all right. Back in the saddle. So, it shall be written, that I will start to write again.I spend a shit ton of time on the road now. I will invest in drag and dictation which will hopefully transcribe my words onto a platform which will allow me to email it to myself, copy and paste and there we are.It's good for me.For You? You decide.BTW, the picture is the last one I scanned over the weekend. That is me, age 18, buffed and pissed at the world. Some how, this picture, taken at random by a guy trying to sell me a camera at Kmart or someplace, has made it through almost 40 years in my possession. In the cruel justice that is life, I still can't find the pictures of me at Abbey Road studios with Alan Parsons. There is a picture of me somewhere sitting at the piano where Paul composed Let It Be. It's somewhere. But, this seemingly random shot of me and my first wife Brenda (she looks happy to be there, huh?) survives to this day. Look at that guy. Where did he go? That was the body of a guy who worked in the shop all day. Big arms, chest and shoulders from grinding, lifting and performing manual labor for 48 hours a week.That's what my dad did. I wasn't long after that, I decided I didn't want to end up like my dad.I have always wondered what happened to Brenda. We got married way too young under THE worst circumstances. I was 18, she was 17. We were done three years later. prom 74 in my GTO nice hair cut for prom, dudeI got zen lost while running about 7 years ago and ended up in her old neighborhood. Of course, I ran up and down her street about three times before going to the door of the house where she used to live. Leo (her dad)opened the door. He was always smaller than she was and ALWAYS smoked a cigar. Her house always stunk.. He looked at me for a long while and then said "Holy Mother of God where have YOU been?" and greeted me with a big hug. Pat (her mom) was on the phone obviously with one of Brenda's daughters. "I have to let you go", she said. "No, it's your mom's ex, not your dad, it's Randy." She gave me a hug and we filled in the blanks for a bit. I always loved her parents.Apparently, Brenda's health was never good. She gained a great deal of weight and it was killing her. Her eyesight was bad, she had diabetes and a number of maladies. I had just ran 5 miles after all... and we all stopped to wonder...what if? I always admired Pat and Leo. Leo worked for the railroad and would be gone most of the week. He then had a part time job on the weekends and loved to work. He always told me..."work keeps you young". The thing I remember about Pat was her cat naps. She would set the stove timer to go off in 45 minutes and she would hit the couch, snoring soon after laying down.The timer would go off, she'd get up, grab a smoke and be off...Brenda sat in front of me in high school Latin. Don't ask why I took Latin, I just heard at was easy.Crap. It wasn'tShe was a 4'9" and sat down every day in front of me until I found out she was struggling in the class.I asked her if I helped on a test, could I get a date? She was so cute. I did, she did and we were off to experience a number of firsts[...]

Back In The Saddle?


One of my New Year's resolutions is to find time to do this on a regular basis again.
See you soon.

Workin' On It


When I was a kid, I grew up on a farm about 5 miles east of Ava, Mo.                           Just about every Saturday morning when the weather was nice, I’d climb on my Schwinn and ride 4.7 miles into town. Back then, I had the many chores to do that one normally did on a working farm in the late sixties. I would get compensation for my work, as my father was, if nothing else, a fair man. On those Saturday mornings after chores, I would take my mere pittance of an allowance and spend it at the Dairy Queen, the local pinball place, shoot a couple games of pool with the old men at the pool hall, grab a burger at Norman’s Rexall Drug (by the way, it’s still there and serving great burgers) and I would ride to Cummins Electric to check on the status of the latest record I had ordered earlier. This was how I bought my music back then. I would hear something through the crackling airwaves on the far away AM radio stations I listened to at night that would catch my ear. I’d write down what it was (if they said) and then go to Cummins Electric every Saturday so Mrs. Cummins could order the song for me. I would grab the latest issue of Billboard magazine and devour it’s contents, trying to learn everything a farm boy could learn about the big city world of music. It would usually take about two weeks to get the song in that I ordered. Sometimes, by the time I got the song, I was already tired of it. It was quite a chore to get the music I wanted in that small of a town in 1968. Quite an investment, I guess you could say.                   Later, I moved to the Quad Cities and Saturdays during high school would be the day that I would enter the closest thing we had to an art gallery in the city and that would be The Curiosity Shoppe in downtown Davenport Iowa. I guess you could called it a “head shop” now but back then, it was a place where you could walk through aisles and aisles of records, 12 inch by 12 inch works of art. Album covers dedicated to catch your eye. In fact, there were many times I discovered some great music my buying an album for it’s cover. I made some great discoveries that way, Osibisa, Mandrell, Lee Ritenour and the list goes on. Most of the time, there was something cool and far out sounding being played in the store, whether it was Billy Cobham, Mahavishnu Orchestra or Steve Hillage and Gong. Some of it was junk, but with some of the other songs that were played, you could then take that piece of music home and impress your friends with what you found. Back then, it was word of mouth between neighborhoods that made the stars of their day. The main way to spread the word about a new artist was to hear them on the radio or go buy their new album. Albums. LPs. Virgin black vinyl.            LPs stood for Long Playing. When I was much younger, we had a number of Jo Stafford songs on “78 rpm” records. The turntable spun so fast, you could only get one song on the disc. “45 rpm’s” had a little better fidelity, they were more compact, but, still, only one song per side per record. Then, they slowed the turntable down to 33 1/3 rpm to get more songs on a record. My generation benefited from that technology. There is something about an album that requires many senses. At first, I look at it and see if it has the[...]

Jack Buck


Jack Buck and Harry Caray were institutions in St. Louis long before I ever dreamed of getting there. All those long hot summer nights as a kid on the farm listening to them on the crackling far away AM signal. This is what we did when the sun went down back on the farm in the summer. My sister and I would take turns holding on to the antenna just to be able to hear the game. Splendid youth.

I met Mr. Buck in 1987 at Busch Stadium during a playoff game.

We got on the same elevator at the ballpark. The door closed and I knew I had just a few seconds to let him know how I felt about him.
"Mr. Buck?"
"Yeah, kid?
"Sir, my name is Randy Raley and I do the afternoon show on KSHE 95 and I just wanted to let you know how much you influenced me to get into radio", I said, sounding like a nine year old kid.

The thing about Mr. Buck is when he talked, he almost growled.

"That's nice, kid, but don't blame me..!" he growled back and winked at me.
"Anyway, sir, I just wanted to say thank you for everything."
"What did you say your name was, where do you work?"
"Randy Raley, sir and I do the afternoon show on KSHE."
"KSHE, huh? Well, you must be doing a good job, cause my kids listen to that God awful, God damned shit all the time. Play some better music will ya?"
With that he stuck out his hand.
"Thank you, Mr. Buck", I said.
"My name's Jack."

He was out of the elevator and gone. I really don't think he had any idea he could thrill a 31 year old man almost to giddiness.

Thank you, Mr. Buck

The World We Know


It's interesting to see the music landscape in media in March 2012. I have two other friends, Dan Kelley and  Lee Arnold, guys who developed my respect throughout the years for the radio stations they programmed, who are into the online classic rock radio business. The nice thing about this is we are all rooting for each other. I know the work involved putting together something like this and just for that, they have my respect. My radio station ( is my train set, my Harley. I don't ride anymore. It's not me, mind you, but I've noticed a serious deterioration of driving skills by the general public over the last few years and it scares me. Too much yapping and texting at the wheel for me. This is my hobby. This my Harley. And my train set. I make no money from it, in fact, it's been a bit of an investment. Planet radio is the station I used to have in my head when I was a teenager. I would lock myself in my room on the farm and "do radio" into my little tape recorder. I'd play Bobby Sherman and segue it with King Crimson, I'd play the Grass Roots and Steppenwolf like they did on the stations I listened to.The seed for planet radio was germinated about 12 years ago when a company in St. Louis was going into the online music business. They were to hire a bunch of people to program different types of internet radio to send with local content all over the country. They had figured out how to localize the content and send it to that city. I was intrigued! I was going to program and voice the classic rock stream, sending it to Philadelphia, St. Louis, Seattle and a couple of other places. They had the backing and marketing ideas that made me think they were going to do this right. There were about 12 of us when we all met at an office in Clayton, including Michael Holbrook, who was the IT guy at The Rock! when I was there. He was along to set the whole thing up. I was pretty excited about this project as you could imagine. We had offices in Clayton and everything was ready to go. About two days before launch, it was over. Apparently, something didn't happen royalty wise or bandwidth wise or something but right before launch, it was over. I couldn't for the life of me figure out the steps to do something like that, so I put the thought aside. I still thought there was something there. I thought there was an audience for what progressive rock radio used to be. I grew up listening to "Beaker Street" on KAAY in Little Rock. It was a 50,00 watt radio station on AM that would blast all the way into Canada. After 10pm, they would play songs that would not normally be heard anywhere else, unless it was KSHE back in the day. One of the first things I would do when visiting cousins here would be to turn on KSHE. KSHE went deep into album cuts and they turned me on to such wonderful music. The first time I heard Bruce was on KSHE. In the Quad Cities, it was 99 + Stereo KFMH that would go deep into albums and blow my mind. THAT music wasn't  getting played anywhere (the consultants ALWAYS said "play the hits") until the advent of online radio.While messing around on line one day, I found Dan Kelley's classic rock website, where he would write about all things classic rock. He wrote on radio, bands, and usually very interesting stuff. In one of these columns he talked about how he was getting ready to launch an online classic rock station. I was immediately very interested to obs[...]

Little Bit Of Sympathy


There have been a few times I've been severely toungue tied or had a brain fart while interviewing someone. In 1978, at the ripe old age of 22, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ann and Nancy Wilson, who just blew me away with their beauty.I was interviewing them for 97X in the Quad Cities in a trailer back stage where we were set up. Their manager opened the door for them and I swear I could hear the dramatic music swell in the background. They walked in, fresh faced and smelling so nice. Me? I was trying to keep my tongue in my mouth and not drool. They were both stunningly beautiful and they played me like a banjo. While I was interviewing them I really tried to keep my composure but all I wanted to do was say ..."either one, I'm in. I'll peel your grapes and soothe you with palm fronds. I'll bathe your feet in oil every night. Either one, really, I'm in." But, i didn't. They, however,were as nice about it as could be. If you were to just pull out my part of the interview , it would probably sound like ..."uh, well, hey, I'm uh well, Ann, hey, um, Nancy..uh, what do you, er,"... This was early in my career. I remember being so nervous, I called them the "Heart" sisters. They laughed and said, "that's cute, we like that, the Heart sisters it is." Gah. Whenever I introduced them on the radio, it was Ann and Nancy, "the Heart sisters". I will always have a soft spot in my "heart" for those ladies.When I first got to KY 102 in 1979, the studio was way inside a building that also housed a TV station and a full service country station. By full service, I mean they had a news team full staffed 24/7. Along with the TV station, that building was a bevy of activity pretty much all the time. The studio was literally a closet down a winding hall and behind two huge, thick doors. After you opened the first thick door, the next thick door was right behind the first one. After you opened that door, the studio looked liked a closet that had carpeting all over the walls and floors. While some may have been claustrophobic in that studio, I found the coziness quite refreshing. Locked away in that room behind the big doors lent itself to a bit of a comforting feeling. I have always liked cozy.In 1980, my buddies in Shooting Star went on tour with Robin Trower. Robin Trower! I have been a fan of Robin's since I first heard "Bridge of Sighs" on 8 track while working at J.I. Case in Bettendorf Iowa in 1974. "Bridge of Sighs" quickly became one of the releases that held my 8 track hostage. It literally would not let anyone else play anything else. Meeting Robin Trower was a huge deal for me.They were on a bill at Memorial Hall in Kansas City and Robin was doing the dog and pony show talking to radio stations that really never played his music much. The way it worked was you had to follow format unless you got a star in the studio and then you could only play their "hits". Well, with Robin, the hits were things the station didn't play anyway, so I felt pretty sure playing something from the new album (Victims of the Fury)and a couple from Bridge of Sighs would do it.I don't remember the record guy's name but I know that Robin was with a man named Derek Sutton, who, in his own right, was a big name in the music business. They walked in and I was just flummoxed. I shouldn't have been but this was Robin Trower. Robin sat down and I asked if I could get him anything but he was fine. I started the interview and I was pretty impre[...]

On Turning 50


A friend of mine informed me he's getting ready to turn 50. As someone who has now spent more than half a decade there, I thought I'd give him some advice...Hey man,damn straight50 is the time when you start to figure the whole chess game out. The pieces of the puzzle slowly come together and the meaning of life becomes more in focus. I've (for the most part) enjoyed my 50s. I try to keep the body somewhat in shape and feel more comfortable in who I am. I think I'm in better shape and feel better than I did in my 30's. I tell my friends I'm fighting old age "kicking and screaming". I am certainly not as excitable as I used to be, it's hard to yank my chain because I've heard it all and experienced it all before. My skin is thicker.My worries include what my drug use in my youth has left behind and the genes I carry. There are some burnt chromosomes that go back centuries.And yes, there is something to be said for making it to the other side. A lot of our friends and contemporaries did NOT.That's the bummer about my 50's. I've lost a lot of people I look up to. I've lost favorite musicians, teachers, mentors, friends, etc. One week last year, I lost three friends in the span of two weeks. Another bummer is I don't get filled with a sense of awe anymore. THAT's the one thing I miss about being a kid. I used to be awed regularly. Not so much anyone. In fact the last time I remember being "awestruck" was about nine years ago.The thing I've become more comfortable about is "acceptance". I know I can't control a lot of the stuff that happens in my life. I'm now trying to focus on accepting that.I have begun a quest to right the wrongs I've done in life. I haven't always been the nicest person in the world. There are a few things I need to settle before I depart this Earth. Speaking of that, when the day comes I do, don't cry for me. Where would you put my quality of lifestyle on a measuring scale of one to ten? I think mine goes all the way to 11. "It's louder, innit?"I think we have more compassion as we hit the big 50 because our hearts have been scarred. I've become much more empathetic and sympathetic. I have more respect for the elderly because...they've made it too. Just making it to their age deserves my humility and respect. It's STILL a process and I am trying to be the best person I can be. Embrace change, grasshopper. Again, it's about acceptance. Run with it, your 50's will be the chance to rediscover your life and what makes YOU happy. Kids will be gone soon and after the empty nest syndrome passes (it takes about 6 weeks), you'll realize that this is the way it should be, the way it has been for generations and it's now dad and mom's turn to fly.Fly high, dude.not quite MY ratio, but funny nonetheless [...]

Ronnie Montrose


I discovered Van Morrison through Tupelo Honey. I heard of him before, but really started paying attention with Wild Night. That was the very first song by him that made me stand up and go..."oh yeah."The guitar player was Ronnie Montrose. In fact, if you listen closely to that riff, it almost has an early "Free Ride" thing going on. Tupelo Honey made me go back and find Moondance and my love affair with Van was on. The next year, this monster of a song comes on the radio with all this weird synthesizer stuff and man, it does NOT sound like any other song I've ever heard. Edgar Winter? "Frankenstein" made me go out and buy that album, (you should have seen the look on my dad's face when he saw the cover.) Wow, the guitar player is Ronnie Montrose. Ronnie shined on the record, from "We Still Had A Real Good Time" To "Round and Round". Who can forget the wonderful riff of "Free Ride"? If there was ever a song made for spring, it's that one. I was waiting for the next Edgar Winter album when a friend of mine come over to my house with an 8 track of Ronnie's new project  "Montrose". It seemed Ronnie was at it again, and this time he traded that lovely spring filled riff with an effing sledge hammer. "Montrose" remained in my 8 track player until, literally, the tape head wore through the tape and it disintegrated. I can remember having the "Montrose" tape in the 8 track and having a matchbook wedged in between the tape and the player just so it could play. I have a Japanese import of "Open Fire" that I paid twenty bucks for "Magdelena" served as my show open for awhile in the early radio days and there are 9 Gamma songs on planetradio. To say I was a fan would be an under statement. I thought Gamma was a totally over looked band in the early 80s. Listen to "Voyager", "Dirty City" or "Fight To The Finish". You listen now and it doesn't sound dated. It still sound like fresh, hook laden, well played rock and roll. I talked to Ronnie twice in my career. Once after a Gamma release in the studio. It is always nice to find out the person you've dug for so long is a decent guy and Ronnie was. He seemed appreciative.The next (and last) time I chatted with him was right after a soundcheck at the Westport Playhouse in the late 80's when he opened for Robin Trower. It was odd, because at the time, I think Davey Pattison sang for both Montrose AND Trower that night. The Westport Playhouse was a great place to play. It was wierd, however, because the stage rotated through the show. This creates a bit of a sticky wicket for the sound man who has to balance out the sound throughout the whole venue. He has to make some adjustments to the volume of the amps as not to have the whole thing sound like a freight train to the people on the opposite side of where the front of the stage is. Right after a sound check, when Ronnie and I were finishing our interview, the sound man at the Playhouse said to Ronnie, "please, whatever you do, do NOT mess with the volume on your amp. I have it set perfectly, for a great sounding show. So, please don't turn it up or down." "OK, no problem" Ronnie said.Later, I got in front of a sold out show and after taking the cue from the band...I do my thing..."Hey, I'm Randy from KSHE thanks for coming, how about a great, warm welcome for a St. Louis favorite...Ronnie Montrose!!!" I look behind me as Ronnie walks over to his amps and turns t[...]