In mid-1968 I left my job as program director of KSTT radio in Davenport, Iowa to take a similar job at a station in Washington, D.C. It didn’t take long for me to know that I did not want to live there. I returned to Davenport and took a job selling mutual funds. That didn’t work out, mainly because of my selling technique. “You don’t want to buy any mutual funds do you?” just wasn’t a good approach. So, after a few months, I realized that radio is where I really belonged. KSTT had replaced me with a young program director named Bobby Rich. He hired me to come back as mid-day deejay and production guy. Bobby always made good decisions. When telling of this, I always say, “They brought me back to work with Bobby.” Implying he needed help, which he didn’t. If I tell the story in Bobby’s presence, he quickly jumps in and loudly corrects me, “You worked FOR me.” That I did. The months I worked for Bobby were the most fun times I had in radio. He had taken on the responsibility that goes with being in management, and I was just having fun playing the music and creating commercials.
In late-1969 I left my job as Bobby’s underling to take a job as program director of WISM-FM in Madison, Wisconsin. I remained with that company for 32 years, and retired as Vice-President/General Manager of five stations. In 2013 I was inducted into the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association “Hall of Fame.” During that span of three decades, Bobby followed a different course, working in several major markets including New York, Philadelphia. Los Angeles, and San Diego. Eventually, he settled in Tucson, Arizona and has worked for the same station for over 25 years. In 2013, in the same month that I entered the Wisconsin Broadcasters Hall of Fame, Bobby was inducted into the Arizona Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
The foundation of both these quite different career paths is the underlying story of friendship that has endured for over 40 years. While living in Madison I traveled to or through Tucson a number of times, always visiting Bobby. On two occasions, stayed at Bobby’s home while he went on vacation. I got to be good friends with his two dogs, Buster and Kenny. Those two would fight over who got to sit on my lap, something Bobby rarely did. The visits to Tucson played a part in my decision to move there, which I did in 2013. Bobby is still on 94.9 Mix-fm, and sounds as good as ever. He also runs an internet radio station, B100.fm, which is a tribute to one of the stations he worked for, the iconic B100 in San Diego. Just listen to B100.fm (too cool to be a dot-com) and you’ll love what you hear. Along with the internet station, hosted by Bobby’s alter-ego, Dr. Boogie, the website at B100.fm features stories, thoughts, and stuff Bobby makes up, about radio. It is a fun place to visit…and listen. Easy to remember too, B100.fm – on a computer, pad, or cell phone near you. Don’t miss it if you possibly can.
Us two radio guys, who met in Davenport, Iowa almost 50 years ago, both ended up in Tucson, friendship intact. Bobby and I get together frequently even though he lives way on the other side of this sprawling city. I listen to him on the radio almost every day; at least that’s what I tell him. We have often mused about how different it was back in the ’60s and ’70s when radio was so different, when turntables spun the records, and little paper dots on a piece of cardboard told us what records to play. Computers did not exist. Computers run a lot of radio stations today. But, at Bobby’s stations, both terrestrial and internet, computers are just a tool. The stations are run by Bobby’s love of radio. Computers work FOR Bobby, not the other way around.