Former DJ Recalls Following Yellow Brick Road
There are times in my life that I can look back upon and smile. They bring back nothing but fond memories.
They're mostly from my college days, when I was footloose and fancy free.
In the early days, I wasn't much of a student. Looking back, I probably had no business even seeking a higher education.
I'd been an average student in high school. Nothing more. Nothing less.
I'd only achieved average status to remain eligible for sports and to remain in my mother's good graces.
If the only university I'd applied to for admission hadn't accepted me, I don't know where I'd be today.
Every report card I'd ever received stated the exact same thing: "Randy has potential, but he needs to apply himself."
I know that for a fact. My mother kept every report card I'd ever received and I recently discovered them neatly secured in a cabinet at my parent's house. She keeps everything.
My pursuit of a bachelor's degree in broadcasting only came about due to the fact my guidance counselor encouraged me to take a test to determine my future inclinations.
Surprisingly, disc jockey appeared on the resulting list of options.
Being a DJ sounded like fun, so, I went for it -- emphasis on fun.
Boy, was it. I certainly applied myself in that regard.
My floor mates in the dorm also appeared to be majoring in fun. We minored in going to class. Studying was an option.
At the time, our biggest accomplishment was winning the intramural flag-football championship as independents.
It was actually quite prestigious, especially after having put an end to the dynasty established by one of the jock-infested fraternity houses.
We celebrated by getting shitfaced at the "Gin Mill," which was the Greek bar they patronized, proudly sporting the t-shirts provided to us by our loyal sponsor: Lone Star Beer.
We were deplorable.
My campus notoriety would be further increased with the assistance of fellow disc jockey, Perry Bax, on the campus radio station, of which we were founding members. Unfortunately, I lost track of Perry years ago. He was from the Chicago area, too.
He held in his possession a copy of the album version of "The Wizard of Oz."
When he arrived at the station to prepare for his show, which immediately followed mine, we would often co-host the final few minutes during the transition.
One morning, for shits and giggles, we played the munchkins performing "The Lollipop Guild."
It was an immediate sensation and the phones began to ring off the hook, requesting more cuts off the album.
We seized the opportunity and promoted the upcoming Friday shows as a co-hosted tribute to the "Wizard of Oz."
We aired selected cuts off the album over the course of our combined shows.
It was a smashing success.
The campus tuned in, with those who lived off-campus blasting the munchkins from speakers placed upon their rooftops.
It was a beautiful spring day.
I'm told you could hear tunes, such as Judy Garland's "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," all across Macomb, Illinois, which is home to Western Illinois University and 88.3 WIUS -- The Dog. (Western Illinois University Students)
It was apparently a great way to kick off the weekend.
My first gig was on WYBR 104.9 FM in Rockford, Illinois, which no longer exists.
Ironically, the call letters stood for W -- Yellow Brick Road.
The station was originally located inside the CherryVale Mall. You could follow a "yellow brick road" that wound its way through the mall, leading to a window that allowed shoppers to watch the DJ at work.
Speaking of WIUS, you can take a peak into Studio 326 in Sallee Hall and interact with the DJ at the link below.
Back in the day, we couldn't have even imagined being able to do anything like that -- no matter how much weed we torched.
It features alternative and urban music in addition to sports talk.
Give it a spin.