A Beach Bum Looks at 50 … 2 Days

50 College was … well … like having a job.

It’s kind of how I treated it, anyway.  I went to class, studied, partied some, didn’t date much, except for Rachel, who I was with most of high school, and Paula, who I was with when I wasn’t with Rachel.  I’m not remembering very well how that all went together, but it did.  I saw Rachel far more than Paula.  But Paula went to David Lipscomb down in Nashville, and Rachel went to Miami of Ohio.  I don’t know why I didn’t try harder to date in college, but I didn’t.  I did get a degree in 4 years … and I can’t tell you the name of a single professor or instructor.  Mike was my roommate freshman year, but if you held a gun to my head and asked me his last name, you’d have to shoot me.  I roomed with Charlie Kaderabek sophomore year, and wound up pretty much hating him by the end of the year.  We got over it, but when he was having sex with his girlfriend in the bottom bunk while I was on the top bunk, it was all I could stand.

By the time I was a junior, the Doug/Carl/Mike/Brian coalition had already formed, so I got an apartment with some of the other guys in my dorm.  Again, if you had the gun, you’d have to shoot me because I don’t remember any of their names.  I do recall that they were into role-playing games.  I tried to fit in.  I painted little plastic soldiers and we re-created famous battles from the French Revolution, the Civil War, and future scenarios that were eerily predictive of the first Gulf War.  There was even a game called “Oil War”, that had many of the same issues to be resolved.  We played everything from Star Trek simulations games to Dungeons and Dragons.  I tried to fit in … I really did.  I couldn’t.

By my senior year, I roomed with Steve (again, the last name completely evades me) who, along with his brother, ran the Bluebird in Bloomington and a bar in Indianapolis.  He was also the manager of the college radio station where I DJ’d for a while.  I was music director that year.  It was a current carrier station, which means it only broadcast over the wiring into the dorms.  You could plug your radio into the wall and hear the station.  I’m not sure how that all worked.

Steve was outgoing, good looking, etc, and I still couldn’t even get his castoffs.

A lot of those 4 years are a blur.  There were late, loud, drunken nights at The Bluebird listening to Duke Tumatoe and The All Star Frogs, but mostly, I went to class, wrote papers on my electric typewriter, and drove back and forth to Bedford to work at the local radio station.

WBIWsm Other than the trailer, which was added for sales offices long after I left, the station hasn’t changed much.  What a big surprise, it’s a limestone exterior.  I understand Dean Spencer is still the station manager, or manager emeritus, or something.

I started hanging out here when I was still in high school.  Jay Black was the nighttime DJ, going by “Jockey Jay”.  After the station would sign off at night … about midnight … he’d let me sit in the control room and play DJ while he cut commercials.  He encouraged me, befriended me, mentored me, and got me started in this god forsaken business.  By the time I was in college, I was the primary relief guy for the announcing staff.  They’d schedule their vacations around my breaks from college.  I loved being on the air.  Still do, really.

I could tell dozens and dozens of stories about being a DJ at WBIW.   It was a pretty good place to get a career going.  I wonder if Jockey Jay knows I’m still in the business.  I didn’t look him up when I was home on my farewell tour.  I really should have.  But from those modest beginnings, I’ve managed to keep a roof over my head, food on the table, and now living in Florida … about as well as anyone could expect.

So, the day after tomorrow, I finish this 50th trip around the sun.  And honestly, I’m looking forward to the 2nd half.



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Filed under 50, Birthday, College, Indiana, Nostalgia, Radio, Thoughts

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