In a Hurry

Accompanying music.

Her blue eyes widened as she slid tight next to me in the lecture hall, excited and nearly breathless.

“Mike, have you heard the new Gerry Rafferty song, ‘Baker Street?’” 

A farm girl from Arlington, South Dakota, Paula wore boots, a blonde pageboy and her feelings on the sleeve of a rabbit fur jacket.

“Yeah, it’s his first solo shot since splitting Stealers Wheel, right?”

Our clique numbered four. Paula, Mark from Sparta, Wisconsin, Gregg from Minneapolis and me. The geographic outlier from “the south.

The three boys were in love with the one girl, in that nature-takes-its-course way when 20-year olds with common interests are thrown together in close proximity. A year-long, intensive broadcasting technical school. Lectures in the morning. Hands-on studio work in the afternoon. Tests every other Friday morning. We’d finish around noon and repair to the bar a couple blocks west on Lake Street in Minneapolis.

Closed it down a time or two.

Paula was the most naturally gifted of us. Female deejays were somewhat of a novelty in 1978 and Paula didn’t lead with breaking ground. She just wanted an opportunity to talk on the radio.

Mark was the ladies’ man and the ladies knew it, which says something about his conquests. Gregg was a tall, skinny drink of water with an innate grasp of the underlying electronics which actually allowed for the broadcasting.

“Without me, you guys are just pissing in the wind.”  

We had stars in our eyes. Lake Calhoun’s nice, but where’s the ocean?

The curriculum was geared toward job placement, so we honed our sparkling personalities, direct eye contact, firm handshakes and audition tapes.  

I sought Paula’s advice on the songs to use on mine. No hesitation. “Love Will Find a Way” by Pablo Cruise, “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor and of course, Baker Street.

One by one, we charged into the real world. I went first, landing a sweet foot-in-the-door gig loading up all night movie reels at KAKE-TV back home (there’s a blog, please remind me.)

Mark went somewhere in Indiana, I think. Gregg followed me to KAKE. Paula did a perfunctory six months in Ottumwa, Iowa then on to WNFL in Green Bay.

We’d call each other late at night. Edward G. Robinson, Barbara Stanwyck and me in Wichita. Kenny Rogers, Crystal Gayle and Paula in Ottumwa, commiserating about the entry level.

“If God were to perform an enema on the Earth, Ottumwa, Iowa would be the point of entry,” she lamented.

Four years later, when we’d all moved up a rung or two, the four of us reunited in Arlington for Paula’s wedding to a play-by-play guy she’d met on the way up. 

That’ll happen.

Paula went on to large market deejay success in Detroit and Washington. Last I heard of Gregg, he was a tech at KSTP-TV in the Cities. No clue what became of Mark and I came home to Kansas.

I wish I had photographs. Apparently, while living all our years in a single minute, we didn’t think to bring the Kodak Instamatic with, to the lecture hall, the studio, the bars, the lakes.

“Bring it with...”

One year in the Twin Cities a lifetime ago and I still talk like a Scandihoovian-American.

Real good, then.

I think of my friends from 1978 on occasion. Especially when I hear the music. The melody haunts my reverie and I am once again with them.

In my favorite year.