Painting My Way to a Radio Career

My radio career spanned nearly four decades. Did quite well actually, but, I didn’t purposely choose radio as a career. I wanted to be a commercial artist. Nearing the end of my first year as an art major at Illinois Wesleyan University, I started looking for a summer job back home in Kewanee, Illinois. I sent out two applications. One went to a sign company, where I thought my Art 101 class might impress, and another to the local radio station.Paint Mic MontageI got an offer from each of the businesses. When school ended, I started work at Brown Sign Company. My first assignment was to make a sign to hang in a laundromat to read, “No Dyeing.” It took me most of the day to carefully paint the sign, as there were no computer graphics (nor computers.) When it was finished, I presented it to Mr. Brown, who said, “not bad for a first try.” Then I said, “Mr. Brown, you never told me how much I get paid.” He said, “Oh, you don’t get paid. You’re an apprentice.”

“No, I don’t want to be an apprentice,” I told him, “I want to be a radio announcer.” The next day I took the job as an announcer at WKEI, a 100 watt AM radio station, at one dollar an hour. Some forty years later, I retired from broadcasting and started my own graphic design business. Thanks to computer graphics, I found I could turn out a “No Dyeing” sign in about thirty seconds. In 2013, I was inducted into the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association “Hall of Fame.”


Bill’s Hall of Fame Video
produced by Wisconsin Broadcasters Association

BV Hall Plaque

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