This Doc Wasn’t Named Fever (but he sure game me a pain!)
Back at KIOA I had a week to go before the rent on my apartment was due. I called Ken Greenwood and told him about my adventure in Flint. He said that the “Watch Your Hat” must be a franchise because they had one in Tulsa. He told me to call KUDL in K.C., that he heard they were looking for an afternoon jock and I should talk to the PD, Doc Downey (Morton Downey’s kid.) Morton was a big time band leader in the 30’s and 40’s. Doc’s real name was Morton Downey Jr.
So I called and sent him a tape. A few days later he called me and said I was just what they needed for afternoon drive. Well, I thought, a K.C. star is what I are! (Even though Roger Miller hadn’t written it yet.) Downey said he would send tickets so I could fly down and sign contracts. He assured me that the job was mine. The pay was good so I stated looking forward to getting out of Des Moines. I wasn’t the only person to get fired, so morale was a little grim.
As I said before, I had some good friends at KIOA, but living in Des Moines in those days (no liquor by the drink) was enough to make a hermit sell Fuller Brushes. Back in 1903 Des Moines had had a minor league baseball team called “The Undertakers.” Sixty years later if you went downtown after dark, you could see why! When Friday afternoon came I was told that everyone at the new office downtown was waiting to hear if I was going to sign off by letting Richie the manager have it. I didn’t. I knew that the engineer was instructed to cut me off if I started to speculate as to the management’s ability to find its collective derriere with or without a flashlight, so I was nice as pie (I didn’t have pecans so I used beer nuts.) I thanked everyone I could think of for making my year at KIOA peachy (more pie.) I was told later that in the office there were lots of dirty looks directed at Richie. I’m not sure what happened to him but someone told me that years later he got into show biz and that he was so impressed by Hands Across America that he put together Double Chins Across Bulgaria (when the participants started to do the bunny hop it sounded like a bunch of people applauding.)
I tried calling KUDL before I got off the air, but Doc Downey wasn’t there, so I left word that I was flying back to Louisville the next day and that I would call him from there on Monday. I packed up all my stuff and left it at the office of Success Records. In the morning I had to get up early for my flight. On my way out I stopped to say goodbye to the lady in the next apartment. She was making breakfast. It smelled like she was cooking bowling shoes. In those days it seemed like every old lady I met was a bad cook. When I got to the airport the Get Out of Town Section was crowded. The only seat left was next to a person who looked like Dame Edna. She had a big bag of celery in her lap, so I chose to stand next to the Claw Machine (with a crack in the glass), and spent the next few minutes watching “Sideshow Bob” trying to put on his hairnet behind the snack bar.
“Here it comes!” yelled Edna, throwing her celery into the air. And sure enough, it was the plane from Omaha that would take us to Chicago, and then to Louisville. As I got on the aircraft what must have been an East Berlin-er feeling swept over me, and as we gained altitude you could see the caucuses starting to bloom. Just in time, I thought.