I got a "back to school" themed mailer this weekend. With only one week of real summer weather here, they are already trying to get our heads into fall. NO! Stop it right now! Okay, I know there's other states with school years that start REALLY early, but the Pacific Northwest is not one area with that problem. I think they go back in August in California. Seems that when I was in Louisiana they went back early too. Of course those kids also get out of school for the year in May.
When my brother and his family lived in Hawaii, my nephews had "year round" school. Maybe they needed it there because of the truancy rate. I know I'd be skipping classes and heading for the beach a lot if I lived there. I went to college for one term at UC Santa Barbara, with the campus right on the beach, and couldn't concentrate to save my life. The "A" student fell right off the map and was scrambling for a "C" because my head just wasn't in it. That's why it only lasted one term.
Oh Hell....I had a hard time paying attention at the U of O because there was so much else going on that I wanted to be a part of! Until I discovered the Radio Broadcasting program. Then I got pretty serious about being at school at Lane Community College as much as I could...until I got a job and dropped out. Apologies to my dear friend and teacher, Jeff Young for that, but all I wanted to do that summer when I got hired was to live and breathe radio.
I got hired in the summer of 1975 at KFMY, in Eugene. It was a little daytime FM station with a very loose rock and roll free form format. In other words, if the record was in the room, it was fair game. I think we actually played Frank Zappa's "Dynamo Hum" at one point. Everything from everyone who was even remotely related to rock music would get played. During one of my morning shows you could hear everything from Led Zeppelin to Hoyt Axton. From Deep Purple to Joni Mitchell. From Ten Years After to Stevie Wonder. From Jimi Hendrix to Steeleye Span. We played it all and had a ball. Of course I was also on state food assistance because there wasn't much of a paycheck, and no health insurance, and sometimes I'd hit up my family for the electric bill or gasoline, but as far as being highly entertained with music and concerts, it was very satisfying. I was young, in love with my job, and there was no reason not to feel incredibly blessed.
I couldn't get enough of being there. In fact, I found a little house to rent that was as close to the station "on the ridgetop" as I could find and afford. As a result, it was a great place to gather before or after being on the air. I loved all my new radio gypsy friends. In no time at all they became my family. Many of those connections I made that year, at my first job in radio are people I'm still very close to. It only lasted a year, but man...what a time it was.
I got sidetracked from the original intent of those "Back to School" ads, but thinking about that summer is like ingesting an intoxicating mixture of memories. The song "Ride the Tiger" by the Jefferson Starship will always be part of that memory.
"Look to the summer of seventy-five
All the world is gonna come alive
Do you want to ride the tiger?"
That was 35 years ago. The next year I was at KVAN, the year after that, here at KGON. Crazy. I had no plan but to do what I loved. Thank God it all worked out.
Have fun with those back to school sales. Oh and if your student finds something they love being a part of as much as I loved radio, give them your blessing. Somehow it will all work out.
Funny you write this today, I was at Fred Meyer yesterday and they were clearing all of the picnic/summer products off the front shelves and I saw cases of product from Mead all ready to take summers place.