February 3, 2011Really cold this morning. Our water heater is frozen, or somehow malfunctioning. Chickens standing on the frozen water trough, making tiny figure eights with their skating talons. Actually, they were very thirsty. Broke the ice, so to speak and they seem fine for now.
Twenty five years ago this week, I was out promoting my latest book of New Times cartoons, titled Even Lower Blows:
New Times Weekly hired a promotions person who booked me on local tv and radio shows so I could go out and promote book signings and general sales. If memory serves me correct, I had already done the Dave Pratt Show on KUPD and the Giese and Andress Show on KDKB and the morning show on Kool Oldies (can't remember the DJ but I think it might have been BJ & the Bear, or, something) and the Rita Davenport cooking show on Channel 5.
Around the first week of February, when I came into the New Times offices on the eighth floor of the Lawyer's Title Building, the PR person told me my next assignment: the new morning show on KSLX. I had never heard of that station (there were something like 35 radio stations in the Valley at that time, which I believe was a record amount in the U.S.), and she informed me that 100.7 FM used to be Top Forty KOPA, but just last week they had changed their format and their calls to KSLX (they wanted KLSX, which connotes "classic" as in rock, but those calls were already taken by an LA station, so, in radio think, why not transpose the letters and call it a day, which they did).
There was one caveat: their news person, Cindy Wine, just quit and would I mind doing the news all morning. I told our PR person to call their PR person and ask if I had to do the news straight, or could I have fun with it, and the word came back from the KSLX PR person, Tara Jones, that yes, I could do whatever I wanted. And, by the way it was Tara Jones who called New Times and asked if I could do the show.
David K. Jones was fresh from The Coast, a big time radio station in LA and we hit it off immediately. I did the news all morning and David told me recently that the line that got me the gig, at least for him, was, "This just in: lawyer's are scum." Anyway, the three hours went by in a flash, I got some plugs in for my book and at nine, I sped towards the door and my day job.
The program director, Dick Bascomb, stopped me and asked me to come into his office. We went down the hall to this ratty room with records scattered everywhere. I remember he was smoking and, somewhat nervously, he said, "I want to hire you."
I was dumbfounded. I blurted out that I had no radio experience, didn't have a radio voice and didn't even know what radio people got paid. He asked me what I wanted. So I stalled and said I'd have to think about it and get back to him.
Besides being flattered, I was kind of floored because I had lots of friends in radio (Wonderful Russ, Nina Joy, Toad Hall, among others). And, one of them, Tommy Vascocu, was at the time the GM at KDKB. So I called Tommy and asked him what he thought and he immediately told me that he always thought I had the talent to be on radio and I said, "Well, that's funny Tommy, you've never offered me a job." He wasn't happy about me going to work for a competitor but he told me that if they offered me $15K a year, they were slumming, and not serious.
Of course I already had a full time job at New Times (where I made $30K) and when I told the publisher Jim Larkin of the offer he said, "Don't flatter yourself, they're just trying to get to us," meaning, I guess that it was a stunt to get better ad rates or editorial about the station in the paper.
Kathy's advice was to at least talk to them and see what the offer is.
The next day, after work, I met the new KSLX general manager Carl Hamilton in the bar at the Safari Resort, and over beers he told me, "We are very excited about you being on KSLX and we are prepared to offer you $15,000 a year."
I told him thanks, but that I would pass. I was actually relieved, because I had my plate full at New Times and with my comic strip Honkytonk Sue which had recently been bought by Columbia Pictures. David K. walked me to my truck and told me he was embarrassed by the offer and he would see what he could do. I didn't really take him seriously.
The next day, the phone rang. It was Carl Hamilton. "Okay, we'll give you $30K and you can leave a half hour early."
I called Kathy at home. "Well, these are hours I'm not really using anyway, I might as well try it."
And thus, the Jones & Boze Show was born and would last in various forms for a decade. Here's a photo of the classic version of the show: Jeanne Sedello, David K. BBB and Gordon Smith in the room where I was offered the job by Dick Bascomb. Most of the records on the shelves are from the collection of legendary Phoenix radio DJ William Edward Compton.
We added Jeanne Sedello about a year later and Gordon Smith, on guitar added some much needed zane, as did Wonderful Russ and his zany wife Wendy Shaw. Hard to believe it's been a quarter century since that began.
"And that's the news, smack dab in the middle of the West's most Midwestern town."
—BBB signature sign off on the news