On September 18, 1993, I got into my car and began a 900-mile, two-day journey that would change my life. Earlier that month, after a year of searching for a full-time radio job, I came home from my part-time gigs at WSUI and KSUI in Iowa City, Iowa and saw that my answering machine was blinking.
“Hi, this is Jonathan Palevsky at WBJC in Baltimore. We’d like to talk to you about a job.”
The next two weeks were a blur. My job interview took place over the phone (decades before Zoom, no less!), I flew out to Baltimore to find an apartment, met most of my new colleagues, and prepared for my solo road trip. The apartment was great even though it took a week for my furniture to be delivered and I fell in love with the East Coast very quickly.
When people ask “how did you get into radio?”, they’re always surprised that WBJC’s on-air staff give such different answers. In my case, I was sitting in a coffee shop in Iowa City pretending to study, most likely reading a novel, when I overheard a guy talking to a barista about being from Minot, ND. I walked over and said that wasn’t possible; he looked confused, said yes, he was, I continued to joke around, and the exchange continued for a couple of minutes before I laughed and said I’d also grown up there. He was a graduate student in broadcast journalism and I mentioned that I was interested in trying my hand at radio, so he said he’d try to get me an audition. I had to pronounce some composers’ and performers’ names and put together a newscast, prioritizing the order the stories should be in. My first shifts were Sunday nights, midnight-5am, which made 7am Spanish class a bit tough, but I persisted until I was allowed to work weekend afternoons. Eventually, I filled in for vacationing full-time hosts and started doing taped interviews. My position was officially a student job and I wasn’t enrolled in grad school, so I was about to be let go and things were getting tense when I got that message from Jonathan. I sent cassette tapes and resumes to every big city and university town public radio station that was hiring (and a few that weren’t) and crossed my fingers. My first day on the job at WBJC was September 20, 1993.
There have been a lot of changes in broadcasting during my 34 years in the business – one that makes me rather sad is the number of public stations that have dropped classical music or just air much less of it than they used to. Fortunately, we have the option of streaming now and anyone in the world can listen to WBJC on their PC or other device. We can’t take anything for granted, though, because there are also digital music services, so we don’t lack for competition. It will be interesting to see what the future brings and I hope I get to stay behind the microphone for a while.
Thanks, WBJC, and thanks, Baltimore, for 30 great years!
PS – Jim and I are celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary on Halloween!
Tags:30 years, anniversary, Baltimore, broadcasting, classical radio, DJ, Dyana Neal, Iowa, Iowa City, KSUI, Maryland, on the air, public radio, radio, University of Iowa, WBJC, WSUI