I had a very dedicated audience tuned into my radio show every morning. Then the guy died and ruined everything.
I always wanted to be a radio host. When I was very young, I took my parents radio apart to figure out how people could be talking and singing in there. I know, I probably should have taken the short bus to school, but I was curious and my parents were furious. But I put it back together and it worked fine.
When I was in high school, I found out that our rival school had a fully functional radio station. I needed to execute a plan to get on that station! What to do, what to do.
Then, I got an inspiration. There was an ROP (regional occupation program) that gave students the opportunity to work in different businesses to gain experience. Why couldn’t that radio station become part of the program?
I had no idea how to get it done, so I went to our principal, Jerry Colivas, who still is an awesome man today. I told him about my idea. He told me I should go talk with the teacher responsible for the broadcasting program to see if he would be open to the idea.
The guy’s name was Bob Berkowitz. I went to see him and pitched my idea. His response? Absolutely not! He told me he had worked for years getting everything approved and getting the money for all of the equipment, and he didn’t want kids from other schools coming over and messing things up. I said I understood and thanked him for his time.
I went back to Mr. Colivas and told him that Mr. Berkowitz loved the idea. So Mr. Colivas pitched the idea to the school board and it was approved! I know! And, since I was the one who got the ball rolling, I was the first one chosen to participate. Sweet!
So along with me, there were a couple of other guys from my school chosen, with some guys from every high school in our district. What I DIDN’T count on, was being instantly hated by Berkowitz. He was livid with me. Looking back, I would have been, too.
It was a rocky start, but at least it got worse. I was also the class clown so I kept digging a hole for myself as time went on. For example, one day we were learning about television broadcasting. One student was manning the camera while everyone else was supposed to be huddled around the monitor.
Naturally, I was in a different part of the room talking to my friend Dan Smith. The camera man turned the camera on us and I instinctively gave him the one finger salute not even thinking about the monitor. I know! Suddenly, there were gasps from my fellow students surrounding the monitor, and Berkowitz emerged from the crowd with a look on his face that I can only compare to that of a serial killer.
I did the only thing I could think of. I ran out of the classroom and down the hall. He caught me and slammed me against the brick wall. I swear, I thought he was going to punch my lights out. What happened next, you can file under “C”, for curve ball.
He told me that I was a hoodlum who was headed for a life of crime, and he was going to save me. He said he was going to give me my own show on the radio station! What? I went from thinking I was going to surely be killed to having my dream come true?
So I got my show and I kept giving Berkowitz a hard time. It’s just what I do. I play practical jokes constantly. But thinking outside the box provided me with great opportunities in my adult life. I was a leader and I despised following. I’ve had more than one boss in my life who said, “It’s a good thing you can do what you do because I would fire you right now!”
But it never stopped me and I was successful in all of my endeavors. Well, I did get fired once, but it was from a gas station in Pasadena, California. It was my first weekend there and in those days (crap, I’m getting old!) you sat outside with a wad of cash and collected from every patron.
When my weekend was finished, I was fired. My boss told me that I had stolen money. I knew I was innocent, but what could I do? Anyway, I didn’t really care because I only got the job because the guy who had that shift before me was killed in a robbery. Sad, but true. A week after I was fired, my boss and his assistant were arrested for embezzlement. Ha! Vindicated.
Back to Berkowitz. Years later, I was married and still wanted to make a living in radio. I heard the Berkowitz owned a station in Cresent City, in Northern California. I called him and we chatted for a while. I then asked him if he had any openings for on-air talent. He said he did! This was my chance! My big break! I boldly asked him for the job. He was still laughing as he hung up the phone. Berkowitz had the last laugh.
I ended up making a living in radio, until I realized that I hated the business. Now, I want to be the President of Aruba. I’ll let you know how that goes.
Connect with me on Facebook and Twitter!
Facebook: Jerry Mabbott