When I read this radioman’s story of how he got connected to, and with, the medium I said Bob . . . you are a natural blogger. Maybe with a little encouragement we can get him fired up on bobhovanes.com
Bob Hovanes worked with me at KZOK-FM in the late ’70s. You can hear his air work on some of the audio from my last day at KZOK in 1979. I encourage you to take a listen. I am proud of the work and Bob and I were doing.
Norm . .
Random thoughts that woke me at 3:16 a.m.
I hope you don’t find this mundane.
It was the summer of 1974, and it was the brightest summer of my life. Steve Pool and I had moved up from Tukwila to be nearer the U. W. and had rented a house on north Queen Anne near Seattle Pacific University. I was between schools, having promptly departed a year and half stint at Auburn University, done the mandatory hippie thing and criss-crossed North America not less than 3 times with nothing but $50 in my pocket, an insistent right thumb and the ultimate ticket to freedom, my long, flying, flowing hair. This youthful spontaneity cost me my student deferment and I was sucked in by the draft for a time and then spit out, somehow landing on my rear end in Seattle.
I was now unemployed, having just quit a six month, much hated job as a functionary in the supply section at the Veterans Administration Hospital on Beacon Hill. It was a time of few resources, unemployment insurance and food stamps… yet no worries. A glorious time of exuberance and freshness, a time of lazy days pedaling my bicycle to the warm sands of Shilshole, a time of fixation with presidential scandal as we drank in endless Nixon Watergate hearings on our small black and white TV while drinking our cheap wine… and a time of long, soft twilights spent enjoying idle talk about those idle times as we contemplated our idle futures. No responsibilities. And my universe, although very limited, was absolutely complete in its simplicity. I’d put in my student application at the U.W. for winter quarter, so for me, ’till then it was serious break time.
And then it all began.
One random Sunday afternoon I’d ridden my bike up over the north face of Queen Anne and glided down the counterbalance, following some distant thumping sound that was bleeding from the grounds of the Seattle Center. I raced toward the source, flying past the Sunday crowds at the fountain, swung right at the center house and there it was. Cool. A live rock band at the Mural Amphitheater. A smattering of people were lying on the grass enjoying the free atmosphere and the beautiful afternoon. And there was this huge banner unfurled across the mural. I couldn’t make out what it was. “OK 102 and a Half”. What was that? And some odd, striped hand forming the universal “OK” sign. What the hell did it mean? I left, convinced OK 102 1/2 was some charity organization or a collective of some kind.
I think is was perhaps a week or two later that it all connected. One afternoon. I was spinning through the FM dial… and then I found it. The voice had an element of thunder to it and it absolutely riveted me. Moreover, I was spellbound by the laid back, conversational style. I’d never heard anything on the radio like this before, because he was speaking directly to me. And I clearly remember a snapshot of the moment. He was interviewing a gentle sounding Al Stewart, who in his warm and humble Scottish way was talking about “Roads to Moscow”. But it was this DJ’s voice that got me. He was talking to me alone. And then… synchronicity. He said it. “OK 102 and a half”. 102.5 on the FM dial. His name was Norm Gregory, and he had his hooks in me.
From that point on, my one goal was to join the ranks of those I listened to in the magical world that emanated from my humble little stereo receiver. I had to be part of it, and I couldn’t put the thought down. It would serve as my guide and push me for the next 20 years or so. No. It still lives within me today.
So Norm, now you know “the rest of the story”. And in fact, had it not been for that moment, I would not be where I am right now. I’m in San Diego on spring break with my wife and 8 year old twins staying on Mission Bay in San Diego. You see, not only did I meet my first wife because of a radio connection, I met my present wife because of an on-air bit that Lockwood and I did about my divorce from my first wife. We went through the Seattle Weekly singles want ads, picked a likely candidate, and then I phoned her on the air. And asked her out. She had the misfortune of saying yes.
Funny how chains of little events thread one into another and compound to become the complete story of our lives.