Do the DJ Shuffle
One of the reasons DJ's changed jobs so often back in the 50's and 60's was that they could. There were a lot (and I mean a LOT) of stations that needed real talent to compete. Another thing that made it easy was that in most cities you could find a furnished apartment cheap. A single guy like me could move at a moment's notice, with two suitcases and a trunk. When I got to KIOA and we signed our contract, they gave me the classified section of the Des Moines Register and said, "Find someplace to live and we'll see you Monday." Oh yes – health insurance was no problem. Every station had it, it didn't cost much, and there was no pre-existing condition clause.
The first apartment I looked at was big but in a very old building. How old was it? Well the address was in Roman numerals! The landlady had a face like Margaret Rutherford getting ready to sneeze. The plumbing made a funny noise (not funny peculiar, funny haha!) It was kind of a thumping-wheezing-whistling sound. When I turned on the cold water it sounded like a fat guy running up the stairs wearing corduroy pants. I looked at Mrs. Rutherford, she sneezed, and I left.
The next place I went was a lot smaller. It had a Murphy bed; in fact, it was a Pat Murphy bed. It wasn't in the wall; it was off the wall. It had ssssteam heat and was right around the corner from the station, and across the street from Vets Auditorium. The only drawback was you had to have a nickel to get in the bathroom. I took it. The next day I called to get my phone connected. In those days you had to rent your phone from Ma Bell, and if you wanted a color phone you had to pay extra. So the lady wanted to know what color phone I'd like. "Well," I said, "they just painted my kitchen. How about one to match that?" "What color is your kitchen?" she asked. "Black" I said.
One of the best things about working at KIOA was Doug McKinnon (and thanks to desmoinesbroadcasting.com I learned things about him I didn't know.) When Joe Holcomb left for Nashville, Doug moved from all night to mornings. He was so funny I would get up early just to listen. At the time there was a story going around that Doug (who was a first class engineer) changed the direction of the signal on the all night show so his brother Don in St. Louis could hear a joke. I asked him if it was true and he said, "Of course not – that's against the law." And then laughed like hell. I remember he had to announce the menu for the public schools every morning, so I would record them in a cheap imitation of Jonathan Winters' old lady voice. We called her Zelda the Food Lady (later we did a record called "Zelda Oh Zelda" on the Food Lady label – really!) That Dick Vance guy on KSO had made a record called Sharon Oh Sharon for his girlfriend, so we did Zelda and gave the money to charity. If you have a copy of "Zelda" look at the publisher's name. It's 14 Karat Publishing, the same company that published "The Twist." My old friend Tony Dercole at King Records did it for me.
I remember that Doug and I from time to time had problems with the sales manager. I can't remember his name but he had a personality that was a cross between Felix Unger and Mad Man Muntz (young people will have to google that one.) As Doug would say, What a dingbat. McKinnon was using that term on the air years before Archie Bunker. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to work with so many talented people like Doug McKinnon! (I mis-speak. Nobody was like Doug!)
Observation: Joe Theismann is a Whiz Kid.
Mad Man Muntz