A personal note…
. . I guess you could say my life’s work started in a darkened room in a 1950-something Los Angeles ranch-style track house. There, a ten-year old boy was mesmerized by the glow of a Hallicrafters shortwave radio dial—listening to distant voices telling stories about mysteries in a world yet to be explored.
Or when Don Kent, a tall, bespectacled high school friend at the wheel of his impressive 1955 Chevy, suddenly declared that he was going to go to college and learn to be a disc jockey on the radio! We were probably on our way to cruise Bob’s Big Boy. . . I sure wished I had a 1955 Chevy. (You probably don’t know this but his dad was the original TV Gallo Man, the one who rode through a vineyard on the back of a horse with his shirtsleeves rolled up over muscled biceps.) If you’re getting long in the tooth and want a trip down memory lane, click here. . . Just like the Chevy, the Gallo Man was impressive.
Anyway, being on the radio was one heck of an idea. Although I hadn’t actually thought about it one whit, I remember declaring oh so casually …”yeah, me too”. People on the radio were, after all, totally smooth talkers, knew all kinds of things and, well, they were cool. What more could one hope to be?
That was the ticket!
Naturally enough, there were a few brief setbacks and detours. Like my hippy-esque back-to-the-land-in-a-Whole-Earth-Catalog-Sioux-Indian-teepee-adventure in Oregon. The county sheriff was pretty wary of us. He wasn’t born yesterday. Or my time as the Chief Dryer-man in a prune factory on the overnight shift. I was mercilessly questioned about the damage found there one night. Then there was the time I drove a school bus at private camp for wealthy, undisciplined and sadly disturbed Valley kids…or when I was a young administrative aide writing speeches for a notoriously whacked out Mayor of Los Angeles…and myriad whatnot.
But for the most part, it all boiled down to storytelling. First, as a country music DJ and weatherman at a dodgy, cinder-block radio station in Sho Low, Arizona (The Voice of the White Mountains!). I lived in the woods nearby…in a small 1940s trailer I rented from the shifty station owner for about half my monthly salary. I saved money by drinking Kool-Aid and eating hot dogs for dinner. Yum. I didn’t know it until later but the owner who had hired me straight out of college was slowly losing his mind. While driving through the woods on a down a dark road one night, he inadvertently and quite suddenly, sent a neighbor to meet his his maker, head over heels. I guess after that he was brooding a lot. Who wouldn’t? He was taken away after my departure, I heard. It was quite the scandal. I should’ve known. Like some of my other bosses over time, there was something about him that was very, very disturbing. But that’s another story.
Later, I found my way into writing, delivering the news and producing documentaries on increasingly larger radio stations. First in California, then Minnesota. I was even heard regularly on National Public Radio and some of my work was translated into languages I don’t understand one bit. If you think you might like acoustic stories you’ll find mine and a slug of others right here . . . Same with television. And each had its own weirdness.
You can read all about it in my bio. There’s even more detail on my resume, if you are willing to kill some serious time. I’ve actually had to shorten it. I was quite a slice.
If you buy me lunch, I’ll tell you even more.
The storytelling theme continues in the second part of my career: corporate marketing communications, an enterprise I was attracted to when I grew weary of reporting on life’s parade, preferring to march in it.
This is also amply documented in what is now one helluva of a tome-like resume.
Basically though, it’s about 20 some years of telling stories of corporate enterprise: everything from writing lowly copy for a dental supply catalog to acting as a corporate spokesperson, to website development and writing “soaring” promotional copy for case studies, print and broadcast advertising, magazines and brochures. I put words in the mouths of CEOs and I produced TV and radio programming . . . and, my favorite, the potentially treacherous whatnot.
Often enough clients gave me great latitude in the creative realm, so sometimes I could enhance the written word with photography, video, cool graphics. My agency was a pioneer in the use of digital graphics. It was a technical nightmare in the early days of digital communications, I’ll tell you.
Working in the crass commercial world may not sound glamorous to you—Kurt Vonnegut, who’s writing always amazed me, wasn’t particularly enamored of his early days in corporate public relations at General Electric, either. That was understandable, I guess. Life in the hive can be horrific. I had my days, to be sure.
But the truth is I’ve enjoyed almost every bit of it. Especially when I’m telling, when I’m crafting and shaping a story.
It’s sorta like whittling some pretty thing from a twig . . . or a big ol’ chunk of wood.
It’s what I do.