Part 5-Not So Great Jobs
August 01, 2021
As part of my "job of the week" plan while young, I served four months in the spring and summer of 1969 as the Sunday 8-midnight host on Portland radio stations KLIQ AM and FM when I was 16 (Gene Paul was my air name). The night of the moon landing, owner-manager Dave Jack decided NOT to carry the ABC radio coverage; while Neal Armstrong was setting foot on the moon, I was begging for listeners. Even my engineer was watching it on a portable TV instead of riding my levels. I think Michael Collins and I were the only two people who didn’t watch it live.
My only caller that night was my mother (not identified as such). I reacted to nearly every article in that day's Oregonian (daily newspaper). Two weeks later, I was laid off by mail. Also, I tried to be a neutral arbiter on the air; unlike Rush Limbaugh, I didn't instantly realize that the key to talk radio was being vividly opinionated.
That job overlapped with another; I was chief engineer of KVAN, Vancouver, at a time when it was a 500-watt AM radio station whose antenna was a wire strung between two trees at a gun club; I had a First-Class Radiotelephone Operator’s Permit, so I could sign off on the station’s dubious logs. For a few months after the station began programming underground rock, I worked a weekend disc jockey shift as Paul St. John (who sounded a lot like Gene Paul). Since I was only 16, I required a special permit from the state in order to work at a paid non-agricultural job. The permit was supposed to be posted at my single place of work. I cheated, and made a photocopy (no easy task in 1969) to hang at KVAN.
KVAN ended my previous not-great job of five months, as the delivery truck driver at Lind’s Children’s Clothing Warehouse. “We have a big sale and we need you to work the Fourth of July,” Mrs. Lind said to me. “I have a double shift at the radio station,” I said. “If you don’t drive that weekend, you’re done.” I handed in my keys.