One of the many reasons I became a writer is that I got tired of being fired as a disc jockey. Today marks the 38th anniversary of the last time I signed off my show with “see you tomorrow” and was never heard from again. This is a blog tradition: the anniversary of the Christmas I was fired.
1974, I’m Beaver Cleaver on KSEA, San Diego, playing “The Night Chicago
Died” and “Billy Don’t Be a Hero” five times a night and seriously
considering blowing my brains out. Yes, I know – why “Beaver Cleaver”?
Ken Levine sounded too Jewish.
The fall rating book came out, the numbers were not good, and at 3:00 I
was told to hurry down to the station for an all-important staff
meeting at 4:00. We all assembled and were told the station had decided
to change formats to gospel and we were all being let go. “Even me?” I
said in mock amazement. “Especially you.” “But I could change my name to Eldridge Cleaver.” “I’m going to need your station key”.
Quick aside: a year earlier at KMEN San Bernardino they wanted to get
rid of me by moving me from the evening shift to the all-night show.
The cheap bastards were hoping I’d quit so they wouldn’t have to pay
severance (maybe $300 at most) and be on the hook for unemployment
insurance. I asked the program director to at least do the humane thing
and fire my sorry ass. “Nope”, he said, “Starting tonight you’re
midnight to six.” So I stopped off at the local record store, picked up
an LP, and dutifully reported on time for my shift.
Like KSEA, we were a high energy Top 40 station. (Our program director was in love with WLS whose slogan was “the Rock of Chicago” so we became the much catchier “Rock of the Inland Empire”.)
I signed on and started playing the hits. Then at 12:30 segued smartly
into FIDDLER ON THE ROOF….in Yiddish. The entire album. I was fired
Back to the KSEA staff meeting -- Our morning man, Natural Neil asked
when this format change was taking place. A month? A week? The program
director looked at his watch and said “45 minutes”. And with that we
were all canned. KSEA was gone…along with the promotion we were running
at the time --
“Christmas the way it was meant to be!”