After the hours I spent trying to prune the huge volume of papers left by Lynne Marlow, my mother-in-law, it occurs to me that none of my children or theoretical grandchildren will ever sit down and watch the hours of video or listen to the hours of audio I have accumulated. I spent a summer boiling the video down to highlight reels. I also performed similar surgery on my audio.
My active radio career spanned the years 1970 to 1976. I broadcast now and then until 1980. Then there was a long time on TV, with game shows and public television. In 1997, I did syndicated radio, followed by four years of Internet audio. In September 2001, a few days before I was laid off by CMP, I did my last webcast. The lack of audio work since convinces me that my broadcast days may be over-although the gap was 17 years last time.
Anyway, I think my radio days divide neatly into three acts: Act 1 is the high school years, Act II is the college years and Act III is the Internet Years, since my syndicated program was about the Internet.
Act 1: The high school years 1966-1970
I went to Benson High School in Portland, Oregon, and spent much of my time at KBPS, the school district radio station, at 1450 AM. Most of my air time was spent spinning records at drive time, in a show we called Safety Spinner. Since we didn't have any advertising, we read public service announcements about traffic safety. No one recorded a Safety Spinner, so I don't have one. After a knee injury ended my wrestling career, I broadcast the Portland Interscholastic League wrestling finals. Alas, when two wrestlers from Jackson High competed at 168 pounds, I didn't know which was which. For six long minutes, it was "One Jackson wrestler is on top, now the other is." I didn't have a runner, so I never knew who won. No tape of that either.
The oldest recording I have was made when I was 17, in 1969. I had a program called That Marvelous Moog. The program featured the then-new electronic synthesizer music people were making. One use of the Moog was to score commercials.
For the same program, I also interviewed Robert Moog, the inventor of the synthesizer.
The first No. 1 synthesizer hit was Switched On Bach. I spoke to the musician who created it, Walter Carlos, who later became Wendy Carlos.
Also from 1969 at KBPS... I was a big Broadway musical fan, so I created a program called Two on the Aisle. I don't recall whether it actually ever aired. But I did make a tape of all the lead-ins for the original cast album of the fourth longest running musical in Broadway history...
I also worked at KLIQ and KLIQ-FM for six weeks as the Sunday night talk-show host on the 8pm-12m shift. The first show was such a seminal event, and radio in 1968 seems so funny now. On a hot May night in 1969, I began, "Good Evening, This is Gene Paul..."
Six weeks later, I was fired for my failure to draw callers to my show as Neal Armstrong was landing on the moon. What a surprise!
As Paul St. John, I also worked at KVAN, 1480AM, during the summer of 1969. Alas, there is no surviving tape of my stint as an underground rock DJ. I remember playing Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay," and I remember hosting "The Inna Gadda Davida" show on Saturdays. Every week, we would play the 30-minute extended version of the Iron Butterfly classic to divert requests for it during the week.
Act 2, the college years: 1970-1971
Ninety percent of my output came in my freshman year, 1970-71, when, as my advisor put it, I was in the twilight of a mediocre academic career. I had four years of radio under my belt.
During 1970, I wrote, produced and anchored the 9pm news on Sunday nights on the school's 10-watt FM radio station, then WTBS, now WMBR.
My Student House roommate, Charlie Kushner, sat me and Maija Maijers down in front of a tape recorder. I can only assume he did this for a psych class; he no longer remembers. It isn't really broadcasting, but it is an interesting audio artifact. What a conversation!
January 1970 was the Independent Activity Period, part of a 4-1-4 calendar. It was a month off! I went back to MIT early, about January 15--about the time Marlow and Rae usually went home from Christmas. I spent the last two weeks of the month adapting a short story Michael Wildermuth wrote for his class in story telling. It was based on the legend of Sam Patch, an actual American boy who actually jumped from great heights into tubs of water. Needless to say, he wasn't really from Pyldhy, Missouri, and I'll eat my had if he had an advisor named B.T. Whitehorse, or a bear named Stimrod.
But first, as we say in Show Business, I had to burn off a few scripts given me over the Christmas break by Benson English teacher Robert Boniwell, who had adapted several great works of literature for HIS college radio class. We did Ibsen's Wild Duck and Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in February 1971.
Then, after months of work, on April 10, 1971, as part of the celebration of WTBS' 10th anniversary, I completed hours of recording and editing and presented a 90-minute version of Sam Patch, the greatest story every told... so far.
Elsewhere during that prolific spring, I hosted a series of remote broadcasts from MIT's Potluck Coffeehouse, at which students were encouraged to perform musically for small but enthusiastic audiences.
May 21st, 1971 marked the final live remote broadcast of the Potluck Coffeehouse. It was the climax of my glorious year at WTBS. Clark Smith, Michael Wildermuth and Mike McClure, all of Student House, formed the group Pope Pius the 11th and played folk music. The hour from 7 to 8 was uneventful. Then we went live at 8 p.m., and Clark Smith started to do a magic act. It was the longest 8 minutes of my radio career.
After losing the election for WTBS General Manager, I turned my attention to The Tech, but I had one last hurrah. I had written a series of half-hour radio scripts for the Captain Zommar Radio Hour: The Twilight Dome. But I had a falling out with the captain, Mike Wildermuth, who didn't have time to perform them. So, in January of my sophomore year, 1972, I taped the Eugene Oregon show, starring--me. All three shows were recorded in one afternoon in MIT lecture hall 9-150.
And that was it. Who knew? After a period of frenetic creativity, nothing. For 23 years, with the exception of a little UPI audio, nothing.
ACT 3: The Internet Years: 1996-2001
In November 1996 I was CD editor of Windows Magazine. They had just told me the CD was going to be folded when I heard CMP was starting Internet TV--a group called First-TV. I joined the unit, and was immediately assigned to launch, in just two months, a satellite syndicated program about computers called Life on Line Radio. It was the dream of a lifetime come true. I didn't really think about the fact that anybody can put something up on a satellite, but that it takes a real marketing effort to get a radio station to take it back down and broadcast it. There were never more than a half-dozen affiliates running the show during its five-month run.
CMP moved me into the online audio division after it dissolved First-TV in May 1997. For three years and five months, until I was laid off in October 2001, I webcast a variety of programs; mostly interviews of famous Internet personalities and panel discussions with journalists about Web topics. I also did award-winning--well, internal award winning--coverage of the Microsoft antitrust hearings.
I interviewed many famous technogeeks for my audiocasts, but my favorite interview was one of my first, in the fall of 1997, with San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll, America's first techno-savvy daily newspaper columnist. I interviewed him in his back yard in Berkeley.
All that audio. We paid for professional quality audio feeds. Those were the days, when Internet companies spent money like water...
But I digress. The first commercial radio broadcast from 180 Alice Lane was the 1997 Christmas edition of Computalk Radio. While Life on Line Radio has gone bust, Tom King's syndicated Computalk radio program ran for about a decade. Since I had broadcast quality gear and had to stay home at Christmas for Marlow's basketball, Tom asked me to cover his Christmas shows, and then his July 4 shows. I did the first broadcast from the library; the only furniture in the house was the table that Dave Sims, Eddie Frager and I sat at.
I did do SOME real radio during this period; in March 2000 I appeared on a National Public Radio program called Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, the NPR News Quiz, which aired on weekends in most US markets. I played the Listener Limerick Challenge, which is why I had Karl Kassel's voice on my answering machine
Speaking of foreshadowing, I did know SOMETHING was up by September 27th and 28th of 2001, when I recorded my last two review programs. Fred Paul (his real name! was he Gene Paul's uncle?) Fred Paul had taken over Techweb in mid-August. He asked if I'd mind being laid off and I said no. Weeks later, he asked me to come into San Francisco on Tuesday Oct. 2 for a meeting, but wouldn't say what the meeting was about. I went on about my work, little knowing that these two webcasts would be my last.
In broadcasting you hardly ever know when it's your last show. I never did. At KLIQ, Life on Line Radio, and Techweb, the end came suddenly and unexpectedly; my work on Computer Chronicles just petered out. So there's never a goodbye; usually, your last word is "see you next week," only there is no next week.
BONUS ACT Four
In June 1952, my parents, Paul and Mari Schindler, had been married since February. My mother was six months pregnant when they went to Seaside and stopped in at the Penny Arcade. There was a booth which offered to make a paper 78 RPM record for 25 cents. By the time it was transcribed in 2000, it was almost inaudible.Dad sings Mairsey Doats. Mom begins by saying she's in Seaside Oregon with her stupid husband...
Now we go back a generation, for snippets from Fred Marlow, Vicki's dad and my father-in-law. I wish I could say we had a recording of him from either of his honeymoons, but the best we can do is two recordings from late in life, both in his 80th year, Kathy Eckhardt of the Marlow and Co. office was nice enough to make the recordings, but she did so, apparently, at quite a distance from Fred when he was speaking.
In the first selection, Fred Marlow is accepting an award for being the father of Westchester, an area near the airport he developed with Fritz Burns during and just after World War II.
Fred Marlow also talked about West Point. He was always very proud of being a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. He entered in the fall of 1917 and was supposed to be in the class of 1921. His was the only class in West Point history to graduate twice. Here's how it happened...
Vicki Marlow was earning her teaching credential at UC Irvine in the early 1970s. As part of her course, she had to tape record interviews with high school students. There are a few snippets of those interviews... and of Vicki trying to figure out how to operate the tape recorder.