Sunday, May 27, 2012

What if I hadn't tried it...?

I first began my radio career, in Pennington Gap, Virginia at WSWV AM/FM. It was kind of by accident that I began being paid to talk! And if that’s the case, by now I should be a millionaire!

My husband had a weekly broadcast on the AM station and had lost his voice one day when he was supposed to speak, so I sat in for him. For 30 minutes, I was the host of his program. I had music picked out for the guy in the control room to play to start the show. (LP’s...remember those? Long play, 33 1/3 rpm.) I talked for a few minutes, did a devotion, then had more music...interviewed a preacher that was at our church for revival, and closed out with more music and a prayer. All that in half an hour!

The next week, the guy in the control room told my husband I needed to drop by and talk to management about getting a job as a deejay there. When Joe came home and mentioned that, I just laughed. The next week, he brought home the same message. Again, I laughed...but this time Joe said maybe I should seriously consider something like that. “It might be fun,” he said.

But I still didn’t go in to talk with them. And then one Saturday, I was asked to help with the American Cancer Society’s Radio-Thon. I went in and helped answer phones and the two guys running the program handed me a microphone. I started talking with them on the air, and found out my husband was was fun! It was an all-day affair so when it came time for dinner, the guys looked at me just before the next on-air break and said, “You take this next break. We’re going for pizza.” They were so matter-of-fact with it that I thought they were kidding. But they walked out the door! A guy in the control room called out to me that I was “...on in 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1.” Silence. I stared at him and he just gave me a look that said: Well, are you gonna talk or what??!? So, I talked!

I found out later that those two guys - David Hartley and Wayne Sizemore - had picked up a pizza, then sat in the radio station’s parking lot, eating and listening to me on the air. At the end of that very long day, David offered me a job. He said I’d have to learn the ropes, get my license from the FCC, and then he would like me to work on Sundays to get used to being on the air.

Sunday afternoons on the AM station were filled with preachers.
Lots and lots of preachers.
All afternoon.
They’d come in with people from their churches and have singing and then preaching. Sometimes it was quite loud preaching. Loud, as in sweatin’ and hollerin’ loud.

On the FM station was almost always Cincinnati Reds baseball, which made me happy for a couple of reasons. I like the Reds. While getting the feed from WLW, my favorite Cincinnati radio station, it would make me feel a little closer to home. And I knew that my mother and daddy were likely listening to the same baseball broadcast that I was feeding to the listeners of our little radio station in southwest Virginia.

I was to do a local Station Identification at the top of the hour. If there was time, I was supposed to give our local weather forecast. On way too many occasions, I’d flip the switch on the microphone in the wrong direction and instead of local weather on the FM, our listeners would get Cincinnati weather from the WLW feed. And on the AM, while the preachers were giving it all they had, I’d talk over them and give the weather forecast. I didn’t know it. They didn’t know it...or hear it, thankfully). But our AM listeners did!

I finally got the hang of things and went on to enjoy a career in radio that wasn’t planned, but turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened to my life. After a year at the station in Pennington Gap, we moved to Chattanooga, where I worked as a reporter, then a deejay at several stations, and doing voice-overs for commercials...which I still do today.

And those two guys that went out for pizza, then sat in their car and listened to me that Saturday afternoon during the Radio-Thon? Together, they taught me the things I needed to know, coached me, cheered me on and became two of the best friends I’ve ever had.

In those early days while I was learning how to “do radio” on Sunday afternoons, I knew that the ballgame was over when I’d hear Joe Nuxall say, “This is the old southpaw, rounding third and heading for home.” I hadn’t thought about that phrase until recently...

My husband began praying two years ago (shortly after his 60th birthday) about what was next for him. As a United Methodist minister, he’d served five appointments in the Holston Conference over a period of 36 years. He felt that he wasn’t done yet. At 60, many of his peers were talking about their future retirement from the ministry. But Joe wasn’t ready for that. He prayed daily about ‘what was next’ for his ministry. For two years he reminded the Lord “...I’m not done yet. I’m rounding third and heading for home. What’s next?”

In January he found out what’s next. We have served at Alcoa First United Methodist Church for 17 years, and in June, he will become the District Superintendent for the Cleveland District of the Holston Conference. He’s stepping out of his comfort zone. And I’m stepping out with him.

I’m getting ready to embark on an adventure with my hubby that neither one of us ever aspired to. Just like I didn’t set out to be a deejay, Joe didn’t have his eye on becoming a District Superintendent...yet that is exactly where he is headed. Next time I write to you, I’ll likely be on that adventure...or at least sitting on the edge of the riverbank, ‘getting my feet wet.’

Until then...remember that if you have a pulse, you have a purpose. Make your life count!

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