How did I get here? I was a radio junkie as a kid. I used to imitate DJs while riding in the back of our family station wagon listening to AM radio. Nights as I lay in bed with my transistor radio, I would listen through a mono earphone to Shane Brother Shane’s show on WGR. Rick Jeanneret’s vivid play-by-play call of Sabres hockey was riveting drama that I watched unfold in my mind’s eye. I would scan broadcasts from Toronto, Detroit, Philadelphia, and New York and catch Canadiens’ games, in French. That was the great thing about AM radio at night. Later, the Sunday Funnies and Theatre of the Mind double bill on CHUM-FM became appointment listening: Rick Hodge hosted broadcasts of stand-up comic routines and classic radio shows such as The Shadow, Fran Striker’s The Green Hornet, and The Inner Sanctum. I then became heavily addicted to the BBC quiz shows My Word! and My Music on CJRT-FM and a regular listener to their classical and jazz programs, to Morning Classics with Alice Weiss on WNED Classical, Buffalo Toronto Public Media’s Classical music station, and to weekend jazz on WBFO. Admittedly, my first on-air pledge for public broadcasting was to WBFO—for its overnight classical music program.
In my last year at college, I produced and hosted a classical music program at the student-run radio station WRUB. My classical LP collection then wasn’t large, just enough for a weekly two-hour radio show. No one else wanted the Sunday 10:00 p.m. to midnight shift, and it seemed a perfect time for classical music. After graduating with a degree in Italian language and literature (and one course shy of a German minor which wouldn’t have made me any less marketable), I landed a job board-opping at the WEBR/WNED Classical studios at 23 North Street. My first on-air stints were anchoring the evening newscast on WEBR, thanks to Leon Thomas, and hosting Jazz in the Nighttime, thanks to Al Wallack. That was more than 25 years ago, and I’ve since worked with many talented radio and television writers, producers and broadcasters here at Buffalo Toronto Public Media.