Posted by jrmurdock
When I was in high school, there was on radio station in town. KDGO. The Durango radio station. It played one type of music. No, not country or western. No, not top 40. It played oldies.
I’ll stop you right there. This wasn’t a modern radio station where oldies were Motley Crue and AC/DC were considered classic rock. Oh, heavens no! This was 1985 and the classics they played were from the 40s and 50s. On a daring day, the might break out a Beatles tune or maybe a Creedence Clearwater Revival song, but it was a rare day that would happen.
My buddy Jeff LOVED music. He introduced me to many bands that I still listen to. Bands I’m sure many of my readers have never heard of. If it was 80s metal, I listened. The harder the better. Though I grew up with oldies and even big band era songs that I’d listen to with my grandpa. There wasn’t an era of music I didn’t listen to growing up, but once I discovered metal, that’s all I wanted to consume.
Jeff? Even moreso. He worked his ass off doing any job he could have have money to buy guitars and records. He was a purist and would only buy tapes if he had no other choice.
Along with Sean, the three of us were the metal-head, long-hairs of Durango. We’d hang out every chance we got and would often be out causing mischief.
One of our friends from school, Bob Cooley, worked at the local radio station. It was located downtown Durango around the corner from where my dad and step-mom had their dental lab. The front was all glass and you could see the DJ sitting there spinning records and waving at tourists.
Bob worked the night shift. His job was to sit and watch the massive reel-to-reel spin all night long on the weekends. Nothing else. Maybe, if he was feeling good, he could pause the tape, play a song, and then go back to the tape. That was a rare occasion. He knew how, but preferred to read, do homework, and let the machine do its thing.
Jeff had petitioned the station manager multiple times to have a spot, even late at night, where he could go in and play metal. It was on MTV. The tourists that were limited to one radio station had kids. He wrote letters. Made phone calls. Pleaded his case. Got told no over and over again. Until one day! The manager ask Jeff to come into the office.
He told Jeff how radio worked. How he was beholden to advertisers and they expected a specific type of music on that station 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There would be no new DJs and no new music. He must have gotten tired of Jeff not talking ‘no’ for an answer.
Back to Bob. On the fateful night in question, the three of us parked the car where my dad’s lab was. It was late, probably around 10pm. We had a midnight curfew. We had time to burn and nothing to do. Jeff had a mission. He was going to get metal played on the radio come hell or high water. We stood in front of the class until Bob noticed us. Yes, we could have banged on the glass, but we weren’t jerks.
Bob let us in.
Jeff had an album in his hands. Two if I recall. Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. As much as he wanted metal on the air, he knew the limits and brought something that wasn’t offensive. At least with no curse words.
We spent some time talking with Bob. We were there for over half an hour talking radio, how everything worked. Bob showed us how he would pause an album and play a song, if he wanted to.
Jeff begged. He pleaded. He promised his first born. He did everything to get Bob to play a song.
***If this were a sitcom, this is where the plan would have succeeded because Bob went to the bathroom.
Bob wouldn’t relent. There was no way he was going to deviate from playing the tape. If he would, it would be from a bin of records that sat next to the DJ desk and nothing else.
Jeff didn’t need to be told twice. He set his records down and dove into the bin. He came up with a comedy record. If I recall, it was Funnybone Favorites. The three of us, being Dr. Demento afficianados, knew comedy songs. We loved Weird Al and everything he produced. This was classic funny music predating Al. We picked a song, again if memory serves, Ahab the Arab because Guitarzan was rejected by Bob.
Bob wasn’t losing his job because we wanted to throw some spice on the air.
When the song playing finished, Bob paused the reel-to-reel, turned on the mic, and said he had some in studio guests. The three were giddy. It wasn’t metal, but our names went out over the airwaves.
I’ll tell a story next week about how us three long hairs changed music in Durango. It all started at the talent show.
Until Next Time!