A blast from the past…I recently agreed to start writing some stories of growing up in Alaska after my daughter’s request.  Below, I share an abridged version of my stint of working in radio.  Hands down the most fun job I ever had.

After I quit college, I moved back home.  I got a full time job with the school district working in the accounting department. I’d been working there off and on since 9th grade. It paid pretty well but it was boring.  So I also got a part- time job with the new radio station. Initially I was intimidated by the mike and hated the sound of my voice, but I got over that pretty quickly. My confidence grew as I would get requests and compliments from listeners. Our listening area was the size of the state of Ohio.

One unique feature we had was an on-air messaging service.  There were no cell phones or internet yet.  And a lot of people didn’t even have land line phones in the villages either. 

So we’d get messages from people walking in or calling to pass along a message from a village they just flew in from or got by CB radio.  We did messages every hour, and they’d be something like this:  “Melody is selling a 10 speed bicycle for $45.  Please contact her at Mag Air, or leave a message at the Café.” (No last names were needed)  “This message is for Esai in Nikolai.  The plane will be there Wednesday around 2 o’clock.”  Or even “Squeaky lost her Knights T-Shirt at the gym. If you find it, it’s hers.”  Sometimes the messages were funny but usually they were things people needed to know for day to day life. 

I always started my weekday show with “Union of the Snake” by Duran Duran.  On Fridays, I always ended with “I’m So Excited” by the Pointer Sisters.  Weeknights I liked to play rock-n-roll.  On Saturday mornings I mostly played traditional country, easy listening, or soft rock type music.  I tried playing harder rock at that time frame and got complaints from the older listeners.  We had to keep our listeners happy because Public radio depends on donations!

I think I started off at $7 or $7.50 per hour at the radio station but by the time I left about 16 months later I was making $10 per hour.  This was big money in 1983 when the minimum wage was $3.85.

One time during Iditarod I rode a snowmachine upriver to get a glimpse of the lead musher getting close to town.  I was bundled up for the cold in a big parka, heavy gloves and a bomber-style hat with ear muffs.  I parked my machine off to the side of the trail where it wouldn’t be in the way for the dog team.  The snow was so deep I got hopelessly stuck, and I was wallowing around in the snow trying to get solid footing.  While this was going on I knew it was getting close to when I had to be on the air.  I turned on my mike at the appropriate time and started my live report while I was huffing and puffing from my exertion.  As they say “the show must go on.”

Once I got a case of the hiccups right before the news which I was doing solo that day. I had no one to pass off the job to. It was tricky trying to time my talking around the hiccups and turning off the mike so I could hiccup off air. Again, “the show must go on!”

I had a lot of great times working at the radio station.  It even had some cool perks.  The only time I ever flew first class was because I got a business upgrade since I was a reporter.  I also got to be in the press section to cover the start of the Iditarod in Anchorage one year with an official press arm badge.  It was heady stuff for a 19 year old.

How about you? What was the most fun or unique job you ever had?