Or so I thought. It was my second full-time radio job. I had just turned 21 and had been hired at a "progressive rock" FM station in San Diego.This was fall 1975. Growing up back East, I had only dreamed of Southern California.
I imagined SoCal to be one long continuous Beach Boys song: sun, waves, girls and cars. And oh man, it was. I lived in a hippy town called Ocean Beach. I rode a motorcycle up the coast each night to work. What could go wrong?
Be careful what you wish for.
I had been hired to do the all night show. Back in the pre-Internet days, doing an all night show live was great. You had a smaller but very dedicated audience. Some listeners were working the third shift and they would reach out to you via the request line. You became part of their workplace.
Other regular listeners lived alternate livestyles. Party all night and sleep all day. I had regular listener who called himself "The Del Cerro Stoner." He was a Vietnam Vet. Obviously dealing with PTSD, four years later, from being an infantry soldier in combat. He would call nightly for the Who song, "Won't Get Fooled Again." The Del Cerro Stoner would tell me he and his platoon listened to that song every day when out in the field. And then he would tell me a story from the "teenage wasteland" as he called Vietnam.
I loved the audience for that show. Freaks flying all different flags.
So, the audience was cool and my fellow disc jockeys were fun. Now, the station owner was a little strange, but I didn't have much contact with him so I didn't think much of it. That is, until the lamp incident happened.
You'd think the all night studios of a hippy FM station would be cool. You're playing all those great album cuts in a mellow vibe town of San Diego, right?
The studio had harsh fluorescent lighting. And really, really intense. You couldn't adjust them in any way. It was like sitting under a french fry warmer each night.
Finally, I had enough. I brought a lamp in from home. I put it on the console and turned off the harsh overhead lighting. Finally, I had a studio that mirrored my listeners home environments.
Everything was cool until the day I showed up at work and found a memo in my in-box. It was from the station owner and it stated that no lamps were permitted in the air studio and "if I wanted a den, I should go buy a house."
Wow. Kill the vibe. Suddenly I realized my little spot of hip California wasn't so hip. The bad station owner sold soon thereafter and he was gone. I, too, was gone taking a job back East in Baltimore.
The station in San Diego is still there. I bet a lamp is burning somewhere in that studio each night.