K-ORANGE (KORJ 94.3 FM, Garden Grove, California/LA Metro)
I was absolutely devastated when I was gassed (an old radio term for being fired) from Barstow, and came back home to wallow in self-pity. I was honestly thinking about just taking any old job I could find … seriously! I started checking the want ads for truck drivers needed! As it happened, a good friend reminded me that I was just starting out and it was way too soon to give up on radio. So I started calling around to local Orange County radio stations (there weren’t many) and got an interview with PD Mike Lundy at K-Orange. The timing of that call was perfect because they had just made some on-air personality changes and there was a 50/50 chance the overnight slot might be opening up, literally that night. Lundy said to stay near the phone and he would let me know. And that’s what I did. I’ll never forget the phone call from Mike Lundy that afternoon telling me the slot had opened up and did I want it. Did I want it?! Hell yes! So, I landed the overnight DJ slot at KORJ-FM in Garden Grove and reported for duty the night of my interview.
Taking this job meant many things. First, I didn’t feel like such a loser after Barstow, but it also put me back home, and much closer to my ultimate goal of L.A. radio, since this little three-thousand watt FM station serving Orange County was just 30 miles from what we considered radio mecca. We played the easier, more mainstream pop music of the day and I got to be around some real radio pros. Lundy had worked in LA, and our morning man, Dave Hall, was bright, witty, and very talented. In fact, Dave would later go on to success in TV and film. Scott Lockwood was a great talent too, with a smooth, seasoned presentation. All these guys belonged in LA, so it was a great opportunity for me to learn about the business and improve by being in their presence. K-Orange was also where I really blossomed as a producer. I was given some crazy production assignments without any real direction and very little restrictions, so I took advantage and put out, if I say so myself, some extremely creative work.
One thing about K-Orange that wasn’t so great was the fact that it was an automated station. That meant that everything was pre-recorded, even what we said. We would go in the production studio and record everything – song intros, public service announcements, you name it, it was recorded in advance. My time in Barstow was all live, and I missed that aspect of radio. Plus, overnight DJ was not my career goal, and while it was cool being back home and working on the 14th floor of an office building in really nice offices and studios, I was itching to land a better slot at a bigger station and do live radio again. I was constantly calling, showing up, hanging around, and talking to anybody who would talk to me at other stations, trying to make myself known as a talented up-and-comer and developing my network of radio folks. Naturally, I hit every other Orange County station and spent a lot of time on the phone to L.A., but there was one station in Newport Beach, KOCM-FM, that was very close to home, so I spent a lot of time just going over there and badgering the Program Director to give me a job! As a result of my constant presence, we became friendly and hung out a bit. I think he’d had enough of my badgering though, because one day he just got very direct and honest and said there was nothing available at KOCM. But it was ultimately he who put me on to KOLA-FM and even got me a meeting with the owner there. It just goes to show, networking is a real thing! And yes, we did still hang out until I moved to San Berdo.