Continuing from yesterday, while furiously writing spec scripts at night with David, I got a day job at the KiiS Broadcasting Workshop – training young people to enter the exciting and stable world of radio.
Today it would probably be called the KiiS Podcast Workshop.
They did have a great gimmick however. The owner went to KiiS radio, a floundering AM station, and offered a partnership. The station would get a cut of the action. The school could use their name, would base their operation in the same location as the station, and this was the genius stroke – the school would operate the radio station from 2-4 every morning (when no one was listening… although no one listened at any hour). The students would actually get to go on the air in Los Angeles. That’s like letting DeVry students run the control tower computers at LAX for two hours a day.
The only trouble was, none of the vaunted faculty members wanted to work from 2-4 in the morning; certainly not for the scraps we were getting paid. So save for the on-duty engineer asleep in the control room, these students were pretty much on the air unsupervised.
We were located in the Playboy Club building on the Sunset Strip. We shared the top floor with a Playboy photo studio. One day I was giving a tour to new prospective coed students. We stepped out of the elevator and there in the lobby were four or five giant 7-foot dildos; props from a recent shoot. They all gasped. But every one of them signed up.
So for eight hours a day I would instruct kids on how to cue up records; a skill today that is as utterly useless as how to clean your clothes on rocks.
All of the teachers were dating the students (except the teacher who was 90). For some reason it got brought to the owner’s attention that I was sleeping with one of the pupils. I was summoned to his office where he was shocked and outraged. I was jeopardizing the integrity of the institution. I was breaking a sacred ethical law. I said, “Are you kidding?! This isn’t Harvard Law. Do you think she’s going to get a job at WGN Chicago because I gave her an “A” in Record Segueing?” To me (and the rest of the esteemed underpaid faculty) this was the only perk of this stupid meaningless job.
So I gave him three choices. He could fire me, raise my salary from $650 a month to what garbage collectors made, or keep me on the same pay scale and just look the other way. He thought for a moment and said, “Just don’t fuck her on the equipment”.
A major component of any trade school is job placement. We had an employment counselor. He actually did a pretty good job of finding entry-level on-air jobs for these students. They were in markets like Elephants Breath, Georgia and Bumfuck, Iowa but still.
And then one day he hit the jackpot.
He received a call from a man saying he represented the Ford Foundation. The following year would be the bi-centennial and Ford wanted to hire a young woman who would go around the country and guest on radio shows talking up the rich history and heritage of America. (CBS television that year aired hourly “Bi-centennial Minutes”, capsulized snippets of U.S. History.) The job would pay $50,000 and all expenses would be covered. Talk about a sweet gig!
The rep came into town and conducted interviews for a week in his hotel room at the nearby Continental Hyatt. Then he disappeared. Turns out he slept with at least five of the applicants. Probably a few others were too embarrassed to admit it. The whole thing was a scam. (I’m sure some of you are horrified; others are cursing that they'll be too old to pull the same thing during the tri-centennial.)
Now that did jeopardize the sacred integrity of the institution. Lawsuits were flying. The station was not pleased. In a stroke of good timing David and I sold a script and I was able to extricate myself from this pillar of academia.
Here’s the sad thing: those girls who slept with the Ford guy, they’re probably the only students the KiiS Broadcasting Workshop ever had who actually learned something useful about the business.
Photos from Gary Thereaux