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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 6, 2004 1:04 AM. The previous post in this blog was Let this be a warning, Randy Leonard!. The next post in this blog is Drive south. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Sunday, June 6, 2004

The Gipper and me

When I moved from northern New Jersey to go to law school at Stanford 29 years ago, I met many types of people that I hadn't previously encountered in my 21 years on the planet. And my upbringing, which counselled me to accept them all, no matter how different from me they were, was regularly put to the acid test.

Take Mormons, for instance. Growing up in Newark, Jersey City, and surroundings, I had met exactly none. When I got to California, they were everywhere, and it seemed as though some people had a bit of a bias against them. I found out pretty early on that they didn't drink. O.k., I knew some teetotalers in Jersey. But then I heard that they didn't drink coffee, either. Or Coca-Cola. You don't say? Hmmm.

Another alien group were Republicans. Back in Essex and Hudson Counties in the '60s and '70s, they were as scarce as hen's teeth. And what few there were had little or no political clout. Whereas Stanford was a hotbed of Republicans, even young ones, members of Young Americans for Freedom or groups of that nature. I had to be very careful about what I said. The usual Democratic Party line was always subject to challenge on that campus.

And so it came to pass that I had my run-in of sorts with Ronald Reagan, who died yesterday.

I was a DJ on Stanford's student-run radio station, KZSU, for my three years at that university. College radio DJs are a curious lot, to be sure, and we were no exception. Unpaid volunteers, we were sickeningly enamored with the sounds of our own voices, with our own tastes in music, and with our own profundity before a low-wattage audience that numbered in the hundreds at best. We competed like crazy for "prime time" slots on the program schedule -- evenings, especially on weekends, were coveted, and morning "drive time" was also decent. Late morning and afternoon were less desirable, as was late night. The overnight shift -- 2 to 6 a.m. -- wasn't worth it at all, but there were people who were willing to take it.

I had a great run on that station (by my own standards, of course), and by the time I had reached my final term at Stanford, in 1978, I had a much-sought-after evening slot. I did my usual act -- Springsteen, Joni Mitchell, James Brown, Motown, and Bay Area faves, interspersed with me trying desperately to come across as another New York DJ Jonathan Schwartz (whom, of course, no one at Stanford had ever heard of, so it was a cool act to steal).

One week I was informed that my show was going to be partially pre-empted. Former California Governor Ronald Reagan was coming to town to give a speech in the Stanford Memorial Auditorium. He was planning to run for President against Carter, and a huge, overflow crowd was expected for his talk. To give all the righties around Stanford a chance to hear him speak, the station's otherwise anemic news department had persuaded the station manager to broadcast the address live. So they informed me that the Twin R would bump my show.

By its very nature, the college radio DJ ego is easily bruised, and my reaction was resistance, followed by a begrudging acceptance. But if the news department wanted to run Reagan's speech, I told them, they could supply an engineer to sit in the studio and feed the speech from the remote location out over the airwaves. I didn't want to sit there and listen to him. I didn't like his politics and had no interest in what he had to say.

Oh no, the news guy told me. You've got to run the mixing board in the studio; we don't have anyone available to do it.

And what if I don't? I asked. "Look," he said, "the speech will only run an hour. Then you can go back to your show."

"Tell you what," I responded. "I'll run it for an hour -- exactly an hour. But then I'm pulling the plug and taking my show back."

"No problem," Mr. News Director said. "It will be over in an hour."

Reagan went on more or less at the appointed time, and the adoring crowd was delirious. They applauded and shouted cheers at his every platitude. He was interrupted so often, it was hard for him to get through his script. Plus, sensing that he had the crowd going, he went on and on, laying it on good and thick.

My liberal ears got redder and redder as I listened. I disagreed with everything he was saying, and I couldn't believe he had so many true believers buying it all so completely. The minutes continued to tick by -- 57, 58, 59...

At one hour into the speech, I cut off Ronald Reagan. And with no announcement of any kind on my part, I immediately played a few songs that I felt were appropriate for the occasion. Starting with "Nowhere Man" by the Beatles. Then "Monster" by Steppenwolf. Jefferson Airplane's "Revolution." "Ohio" by Neil Young and his friends.

And so on.

The station phones rang. I didn't pick them up. They rang for a long time. Finally, the station manager, a dear friend who remains so to this day, came to the station and answered all the very, very angry calls. My stunt made his job, already tough, even tougher.

Me? I made a big speech to him about the First Amendment, my right to express opposing views, and the deal that I had made with the news director. I didn't say anything on the air about it -- I let the records make my statement to the Reagan faithful.

I lay low for a while, and eventually the whole incident faded. But it's still one of those awful, awkward stories from my youth that I try to blot out of my memory. Days like today bring it back.

Would I do it again today? Surprisingly, I might. It wasn't fair to make me sit through that talk, which I hated. If the news folks were so hot to get Ronnie on the air, they should have found a volunteer with a couple of hours free to do the studio duties, and let me fume at home about my pre-emption. With my own radio tuned to some other station.

The rest is history, of course. Reagan became the most beloved President in modern history. My radio career culminated in a graveyard-shift jazz show on KBOO here in Portland (unpaid volunteer work again, of course), and my DJ chops bring me an occasional gig these days spinning the disks at geezer birthday parties.

That night, though, I stopped the Great Communicator from communicating.

Comments (4)

The News Director, who obviously bought what must have been a curious First Amendment argument, should have been canned for making such a deal. I suppose that the News Director was a volunteer and that the station manager who should have canned him was also a volunteer. I guess that's why no one was fired.

I think I would have fired all of you. :-)

My father (who owned and ran a small radio station for many years) would certainly have fired you. He wouldn't have fired the News Director, since my dad was the owner, manager and chief engineer (and primary salesman) and there would have been no ND to fire for making that deal. The DJ's job as an employee (paid or not) is to air what he's told to air, his political views notwithstanding, or quit if he can't/won't do it. (I certainly aired my share of NASCAR races on Sunday afternoons when I worked there, and I found them boring as watching paint dry, but you had to air them and you had to listen for the prompts to put in the local ads.)

Glad to hear echos of 60s-70s college radio. I did the volunteer bit at WYBC in 68-69 just because it was so cool to be near the anarchic cutting edge (and all that great music). Now that we are old(er) we focus on economics or positional roles, and perhaps that's even the "right" way to look at things, but from that long ago and far away perspective that involved regularly carrying a bandana for potential respiratory reasons, holding RR to his alloted hour feels "right" to me.

Look Jack, a DJ after your own heart

In Vino Veritas

Lange, Pinot Gris 2015
Kiona, Lemberger 2014
Willamette Valley, Pinot Gris 2015
Aix, Rosé de Provence 2016
Marchigüe, Cabernet 2013
Inazío Irruzola, Getariako Txakolina Rosé 2015
Maso Canali, Pinot Grigio 2015
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Kirkland, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2016
Cantele, Salice Salentino Reserva 2013
Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2013
Avissi, Prosecco
Cleto Charli, Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco, Vecchia Modena
Pique Poul, Rosé 2016
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Rosé 2016
Stoller, Pinot Noir Rosé 2016
Chehalem, Inox Chardonnay 2015
The Four Graces, Pinot Gris 2015
Gascón, Colosal Red 2013
Cardwell Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
L'Ecole No. 41, Merlot 2013
Della Terra, Anonymus
Willamette Valley, Dijon Clone Chardonnay 2013
Wraith, Cabernet, Eidolon Estate 2012
Januik, Red 2015
Tomassi, Valpolicella, Rafaél, 2014
Sharecropper's Pinot Noir 2013
Helix, Pomatia Red Blend 2013
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2013
Locations, Spanish Red Wine
Locations, Argentinian Red Wine
La Antigua Clásico, Rioja 2011
Shatter, Grenache, Maury 2012
Argyle, Vintage Brut 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16 Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2014
Benton Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
Primarius, Pinot Gris 2015
Januik, Merlot 2013
Napa Cellars, Cabernet 2013
J. Bookwalter, Protagonist 2012
LAN, Rioja Edicion Limitada 2011
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Rutherford 2009
Denada Cellars, Cabernet, Maipo Valley 2014
Marchigüe, Cabernet, Colchagua Valley 2013
Oberon, Cabernet 2014
Hedges, Red Mountain 2012
Balboa, Rose of Grenache 2015
Ontañón, Rioja Reserva 2015
Three Horse Ranch, Pinot Gris 2014
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
Nelms Road, Merlot 2013
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Pinot Gris 2014
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2012
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2013
Villa Maria, Sauvignon Blanc 2015
G3, Cabernet 2013
Chateau Smith, Cabernet, Washington State 2014
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16
Willamette Valley, Rose of Pinot Noir, Whole Clusters 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Ca' del Baio Barbaresco Valgrande 2012
Goodfellow, Reserve Pinot Gris, Clover 2014
Lugana, San Benedetto 2014
Wente, Cabernet, Charles Wetmore 2011
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
King Estate, Pinot Gris 2015
Adelsheim, Pinot Gris 2015
Trader Joe's, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley 2015
La Vite Lucente, Toscana Red 2013
St. Francis, Cabernet, Sonoma 2013
Kendall-Jackson, Pinot Noir, California 2013
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2013
Erath, Pinot Noir, Estate Selection 2012
Abbot's Table, Columbia Valley 2014
Intrinsic, Cabernet 2014
Oyster Bay, Pinot Noir 2010
Occhipinti, SP68 Bianco 2014
Layer Cake, Shiraz 2013
Desert Wind, Ruah 2011
WillaKenzie, Pinot Gris 2014
Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2013
Des Amis, Rose 2014
Dunham, Trautina 2012
RoxyAnn, Claret 2012
Del Ri, Claret 2012
Stoppa, Emilia, Red 2004
Primarius, Pinot Noir 2013
Domaines Bunan, Bandol Rose 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Deer Creek, Pinot Gris 2015
Beaulieu, Rutherford Cabernet 2013
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
King Estate, Pinot Gris, Backbone 2014
Oberon, Napa Cabernet 2013
Apaltagua, Envero Carmenere Gran Reserva 2013
Chateau des Arnauds, Cuvee des Capucins 2012
Nine Hats, Red 2013
Benziger, Cabernet, Sonoma 2012
Roxy Ann, Claret 2012
Januik, Merlot 2012
Conundrum, White 2013
St. Francis, Sonoma Cabernet 2012

The Occasional Book

Marc Maron - Waiting for the Punch
Phil Stanford - Rose City Vice
Kenneth R. Feinberg - What is Life Worth?
Kent Haruf - Our Souls at Night
Peter Carey - True History of the Kelly Gang
Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games
Amy Stewart - Girl Waits With Gun
Philip Roth - The Plot Against America
Norm Macdonald - Based on a True Story
Christopher Buckley - Boomsday
Ryan Holiday - The Obstacle is the Way
Ruth Sepetys - Between Shades of Gray
Richard Adams - Watership Down
Claire Vaye Watkins - Gold Fame Citrus
Markus Zusak - I am the Messenger
Anthony Doerr - All the Light We Cannot See
James Joyce - Dubliners
Cheryl Strayed - Torch
William Golding - Lord of the Flies
Saul Bellow - Mister Sammler's Planet
Phil Stanford - White House Call Girl
John Kaplan & Jon R. Waltz - The Trial of Jack Ruby
Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
Maria Dermoȗt - The Ten Thousand Things
William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
Christopher Buckley - Thank You for Smoking
William Shakespeare - Othello
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 8
At this date last year: 0
Total run in 2018: 10
In 2017: 113
In 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269

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