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Lisa Miller - "How I Got Into Radio"

Jim Richards, Operations Manager WLUP / WKQX / WIQI

10-18-2013

Jim Richards is a man of many formats. In fact, I dont know a format the man cant program. I have worked with Jim in many of these formats and found that he really does know what hes talking about. How refreshing!  But, its Jims love of radio that makes him who he is and how good he is at it. He is passionate about his stations, believes in his people and finds winning is the only acceptable way to program. And the fact that hes so good looking doesnt hurt either.

Now, in his own words, here's how Operations Manager WLUP /WKQX /WIQI Jim Richards got into radio
In 1982, I was a sophomore at Jeffersonville High School. Jeff (as we called the town) sits on the banks of the Ohio River, directly across from Louisville.

Like most kids that age, I was wondering what I wanted to do when I grew up. At one point I thought about actingbut wasnt sure about seriously pursuing that as a career.

That summer, before school started, we got our class schedules in the mail. All but one class was picked for me the other one was designed to let us choose something that may come in helpful later in life. There, among the choices of various shop classes and Home Ec, I noticed a new elective class: Introduction To Broadcasting.
There were about a dozen of us who attended class that first day (including my childhood friend, Brad Hardin), all of whom had a few hand-written words staring back at us from the blackboard. Words like "theater," "interesting," and "Washington." After the bell rung, Mr. Jim Rueff, a former Louisville DJ who traded the turbulence of broadcasting for the stability of education, stepped to the chalkboard and asked us to pronounce these words.

As a group, we recited: THEE-ate-ur; IN-tur-rest-ing; WORSH-ing-ton. And with each word, Mr. Rueffs grimace grew worse. He told us these words were actually THEE-ut-er, IN-trest-ing, and WASH-ing-ton. Yep, in Southern Indiana, we pronounced the invisible r in wash.

He insisted that if any of us were serious about this becoming our career we needed to learn how to speak with a Midwestern dialect. Our homework that night: watch Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, or Peter Jennings and listen to how they pronounced words.

The next week, we began working on our weekly "JHS Report," the 15-minute show we produced that featured us anchoring, interviewing teachers about the various extracurricular activities available to enrich the lives of our student body, or reading that weeks delicious and nutritious lunch menu all riveting content that would be meter-repellent if it aired today. But back then, it did air, on a real, over-the-air radio station WXVW-AM (1450AM) that none us listened to, as it was The Music Of Your Life. (I assure you, it wasnt OUR life.)

When early November rolled around, Mr. Rueff came into class and said that WXVW was going to need to hire a part-timer for the upcoming holidays, and chances were good someone from the class would get the gig. A handful of us went to the studios, met the OM Gil Daugherty and sat behind the mic in a small studio to read an audition script.

With a dry mouth, sweaty palms, and a diaphragm fluttering from the wings of a thousand butterflies, I navigated the complex collection of words that included "asphyxiation" and names of artists like Edyie Gorme and Ferrante & Teicher.

A few days later, I was asked to stay after class. Thats when Mr. Rueff gave me the good news I was the one picked!

On December 25, 1982, with my laminated FCC license in hand, I showed up at WXVW to begin my six-hour shift. As 6 p.m. approached, those butterflies reappeared and I cracked a live mic for the very first time to say the Legal ID and read that hours sponsor of Christmas music. Then, with a kuh-chunk, I pressed the button to start the Drake-Chenault reel-to-reel automation system. Im pretty sure that nights audience consisted of only four peoplemy mom, my dad, Mr. Rueff and making sure he hadnt made a terrible mistake Mr. Daugherty.

Contact Jim at jr@merlinmediallc.com

Lisa Miller is the President of Miller Broadcast Management in Chicago. She's also one of Radio Ink's Most Influential Women in Radio. Miller can be reached at Lisa@millerbroadcast.com or 312-454-1111.

Read more of Lisa's "How I Got Into Radio" interviews HERE


So, how did you get into radio? We'd love to hear the story about why you're passionate about radio.




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