Back in the day, being a radio DJ meant that you were going to have lots of fans. And some detractors too. Listeners had their favourite announcers and they were both loyal listeners as well as followers of all the dances and personal appearances you were going to make. On most occasions it was quite super to meet your loyal listeners. Because ratings were your life and blood to keeping your job, building relationships with listeners both on the air and off the air was important. As a young man it was a joyful part of the job. Listeners were, by and large, simply wonderful people.
But every so often you could count on a strange set of circumstances that kinda made the hair on your arms stand up.
One night, I think it was a Friday night, about 10 pm I had this sultry young lady on the phone and I was expecting her to give me a song request but instead it was a request for me to come over to her house, after I got off the air, and keep her company. Here parents were away, they had a pool and a big house and she just wanted some “company.” Fire alarm bells started to go off in my mind. As soon as she said she was in a filmy negligee I knew this could only spell trouble. The kind where someone with a gun arrives on the scene, I end up jumping in the pool and ending up at a police station because she was underage. I thanked her very much and, reluctantly, let my better judgement take control. Phew!
One of my shifts was Sunday mornings, 7 am until 12 noon. It was part live and part recorded, so it was a pretty laid back shift. I quite liked it. Wander in about 6.15 am, get set up and have a pretty easy morning on air. My favourite half hour was called Gold and Great, written by Nevin Grant our music director at the time, it feature an artist or group and Nevin wrote the story and selected the music to go with the script. I looked forward to that show each week.
Little did I know that the gentleness of a Sunday morning would be broken.
We had a loyal, rather rabid listener, who kept sending the announcers passionate notes, containing very severe sexual overtones … accompanied by knives. Each time the message would arrive with a new and very different knife, but basically the same story line. While we had some
It all started one Sunday morning in the late summer of ’63.
Idling and ominous
In the half light at about 6.30 am, I noticed a car on the other side of the road, about 300 feet from the station. It was idling. I didn’t think much of it at the time. The next week it was there again. The third Sunday it drove down the street as I was walking into the station. It drove by very slow and as I glanced at it I could see that a woman was driving.
This went on for about two months. I was getting a little bit creeped out, but I didn’t mention to anyone in the station for fear they would think I was a imagining things.
I started parking at the back of the station. You drove down an alley and there was a parking area between the wings of the station. Problem solved.
Problem solved, until one Sunday the car started to follow me down the alley towards the lot. I made a hasty move from the car, into the station and then, from the second floor control room window, peered out at the car idling in the parking lot below, next to my car.
I really thought the car was going to wait me out, or that something would be done to my car. Blessedly, everything was quiet, just after the noon hour, when I came out of the station. I was pretty creeped out.
I’d had enough, I was nervous. I spoke to the program director, who in turn talked to all the announcers who had received letters. It escalated up from there. The station’s lawyer and police department got involved and after a few days a restraining order was issued against the early morning stalker, letter writer.
The truly odd part of the story is that it turned out that this was a well-educated woman, with a husband and son in higher education. I never knew more than that. Eventually, it dawned on me that this lady had emotional problems, and we were simply the avenue for her strange fascination. Over the years I often wondered if she had found a better place for her energies and her passions.
Oh, and then there was Gina. Gina was the ticket girl at a local Italian theatre. During the week it got pretty boring for her as the evening wore on and so she would call the radio station to find someone to talk to. I ended up as her favourite chat box, despite the fact that I was trying to run a show. She would always ask me to meet her for coffee after her shift, which coincided with the end of my show. Being a little gun shy, I said I didn’t think that was such a good idea.
The phone-a-thon went on for about a year. One day I was doing a remote broadcast from our fancy broadcast trailer at a car dealership. It was a Saturday morning and a lovely sunny day. About an hour into the remote this fabulous lady in a red dress came towards the trailer and, by her knowing smile, I just knew this was Gina. She was a gorgeous vision. An Italian beauty.
We had a nervous conversation, and I finally got enough spit in my mouth to be able to ask her to have a coffee with me. That famous coffee break, the one that she had been asking me for, for the past year. She said she would have loved to but she was moving back to Italy in three days and she had so much to do, but she was so glad she finally got to meet me. Whaaaa?
Over the years there have been countless encounters with listeners and the vast majority have been with normal, interesting people. People who like listening to their radio and like to have someone they can relate to on the other side of the microphone. Whatever that formula is I don’t know, but I do know that it makes the job of creating good radio all the more fun.
“All of this is absolutely true, and the parts that aren’t should be”