After 36 years on Philadelphia airwaves, Debbi Calton bids farewell, and during her final month at MGK we get to take a peek into her scrapbook. 30 Days of Debbi features some of her most memorable on-air adventures, interview clips, classic photos, commercials and more…
Day #29: Concerts, concerts, concerts!
What am I going to miss the most when I’m retired? Free tickets to concerts is close to the top of the list!!! One of the most often asked questions is: Favorite concerts? Most concerts from one artist? I’d have to say that judging from my ticket stubs, I’ve seen Bruce probably more than anyone else. Probably 50 times? I’ve got a lot of Thorogood passes too because we’ve been good friends with the band for a long time We’ve been to a few U2 shows because, well U2, AND because another good friend is their accountant. (looking at YOU Bob Koch). I went to quite a few Guns N Roses shows when the Rock Star Nephew Tommy Stinson was doing bass duties and then afterwards, had an onstage view of The Replacements for their reunion shows. Of course, I’ve seen Jackson many many times, Tom Petty a ton (grateful!), and so many others in between. LIVE AID was one of the most incredible concert experiences ever and so were the Amnesty International shows.
Concert reporting is also really fun and you often get to hang out for the soundcheck. Here’s a bit of a Sting show I covered for MGK in 2001. (and there’s Lauren Valle!)
AND see a number of (but not nearly all) tickets to shows that I’ve seen in the past 36 years in Philly. I wish I had saved all the stubs from the earlier days but never even thought about it then. Check out the gallery HERE.
Day #28: One Bala Plaza
So I have actually been working in the same building at 1 Bala Plaza, Bala Cynwyd, PA. for over 36 years now. I’ve changed floors a couple of time but my cars over the years have practically driven themselves to work. When I first moved to Philadelphia in 1983, WYSP was on the 4th floor. And here I am back on that very same 4th floor again. Some of the indelible memories from years past at 1 Bala:
In the YSP days when I worked at night, I was quite popular with the prison crowd. They would send me their mugshots and their requests and their letters. Occasionally, someone would cross the line and start declaring their love for me and how they were expecting me to be waiting for them when they were (eventually) paroled or released. One particular guy was so adamant in his insistence that when I told him that couldn’t happen, he then told me that I’d better be expecting him outside the station one night when he got out. I ended up contacting his parole officer. Since I was working until 2AM, guards were put on my detail and walked me out every night for several months. Thankfully, nothing ever came of that.
Another listener once got very aggressive on the phones and started harassing me and sent letters threatening my son at his school. That was really terrifying. We went to the police with that and for some reason, I was given a parking spot in the VIP lot for 3 months. Not really sure how that was supposed to protect my son, though.
Speaking of the parking lot, a few years back, I was walking through the parking lot gate. The gate arm had been non-functional for months and was vertical in the air. All of a sudden though, it decided to come down at the very moment I was walking under it and it conked me on the head and knocked me to the ground. I saw the inevitable stars but as they say “the show must go on” so I got myself upstairs to the studio and told Debella about what happened. He joked about how the building would probably soon be called THE CALTON BUILDING but that never happened. I DID end up at the ER that day though with a mild concussion. To this day, I completely avoid that particular gate. It still gives me shudders.
Here are a few other stories about 1 Bala Plaza and our old Studio A.
Day #27: PBS
So the big question everyone keeps asking me is what’s next? I’ve got a LOT of what’s next. Immediately ahead, my nephew is getting married in Hilton Head so SC here we come. Then my son Dustin is moving back to Atlanta so we’ll help him get down there. We’re selling our house in our beloved hometown of Media (anyone looking?) and then our Uncle Albert has invited us to Key West for a spell so we’ll be there for a bit in February. Once the dust settles though, I plan on working more on my stained glass, helping out Uncle Albert with publicity for a book he’s written, maybe write a book of my own, learn how to play my theremin, start playing piano again, do production work from my home studio AND hopefully do more work with American Public Television and PBS. I started doing these shows years ago at WHYY and always got so nervous but as the years have gone by, I’ve enjoyed them more and more. I shared some earlier shows in a recent post but here are a few snippets from more recent tapings that were produced at WVIA in Pittston and have aired all over the country.
Day #26: Late 90s on MGK
It was 1997, I’m thinking, that a student from my son’s school, Rose Tree Elementary in Media, came into the MGK studios to do a school project on the day in the life at a radio station. Not sure how typical I was, but it was really fun to find this old footage. Looking back, the studio seems so dated now. We were using carts (kind of like 8 track tapes) for our commercials, we were cueing up CDs (instead of loading digital audio files like we do now), and had just recently converted from taping phone calls on reel to reel tape (splicing with a razor blade to edit!) to my favorite studio toy, the Vox Pro. My hair has gone through lots of transitions at MGK over the years. Mom jeans too. hahaha.
Day #25: Debbi and Chip Get Married
In an earlier episode, Chip recounted the day we met and the early days of our relationship. He stopped at the part where we got married in my parents’ Forest City, NC church when it was still a dry state (no booze). Here he picks up the story about our wedding night (the picture that accompanies it, which I can’t find right now involves handcuffs and a whip…hahaha), and then the over the top party we threw for our Pa. pals the next month at the Barn at Birchwood (with musical starring roles from members of Thorogood’s Destroyers, The Hooters, and so many others). Unfortunately, the guy we asked to take video was having so much fun that he didn’t take any video.
Day #24: All the Stations!
So when I got into radio in 1976, it was basically a fluke. I was an English major with a French minor at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC. I thought I might be a journalist but wasn’t sure where my choices would take me so I decided to take a semester off from school to “find myself” (a very popular exploration in the 70’s). I decided if I had a solid skill, I could always fall back on that. I moved in with my Grandmother (Mother Calton) in the NC mountains and started requesting brochures from various trade schools. I figured that as long as something still had the word “school” in it, my parents would keep paying for it. It came down to a welding program or a broadcast school. I went to the broadcast school which turned out to be a travesty BUT decided to make the most of it. I hustled myself over to the coolest radio station in Charlotte, NC which was WRPL, RADIO WITH BALLS! (Poster pictured below)
It was an AM daytime radio station which meant that you literally turned it on at Sunrise and then literally turned it off at Sunset (somedays that’s literally what I did…..worked the entire broadcast day). I volunteered as basically an intern just to get my foot in the door. I wrote copy, got coffee, ran errands….anything they asked me. Within two weeks, they had me on the air and within a couple of months, I was doing mornings and handling Program Director duties! Wow! That doesn’t always happen but what a way to get started in this crazy business. It was a fantastic two years there until they brought in a guy who was doing way less than what I was doing and they paid him more. I ended up filing an EEOC lawsuit (a whole ‘nother story) for gender discrimination and was told by management that I would never find another job in radio. Not sure where THEY are now. I ended up becoming a radio gypsy for a few years and then landed in Philadelphia and stayed here these past 36+ years. In between was Orlando, Tampa, Denver and Chicago and a few one offs.
Enjoy this compilation of air checks from over the years. My style and voice certainly changed!!! (One of the YSP air checks features that time that comedian Ritch Shydner and I filled in for Howard Stern for a couple of weeks. Boy did we have some raunchy fun but I’m DEFINITELY not cut out for morning radio!)
Day #23: George Harrison’s Passing
In the early morning of 11/29/01 (18 years ago today), I got a phone call from my Program Director Dan Michaels telling me that George Harrison had died. I was going to be doing a live broadcast that day at the Classic Rock Art Show at the Shops at Liberty Place and now, this event was going to change everything about the way we approached the rest of the day on air. We had tons of Beatles related artwork there and I also had several scheduled guests that included Eric Bazilian of The Hooters and Little Steven Van Zandt. Everything that day was about George Harrison and although, of course, we were extremely saddened at his passing, we produced some mighty compelling on the spot radio that day. Eric talked about meeting The Beatles, Little Steven talked about all the music that George was responsible for. We even made a CD from the program that day. Included here is an excerpt from both Eric and Little Steven.
One huge regret: while we sat together for hours, Little Steven was scribbling notes and ideas on whatever paper he could find. I had brought lunch in a brown bag and he was using that to write on. I saved that bag for years as a piece of history but then somehow it eventually got tossed.
Day #22: “As God is My Witness, I Thought Turkeys Could Fly!”
By now, you’ve more than likely heard of MGK’s Turkey Drop collection that we do every year. In fact, we just had this year’s a couple of days ago. And if you know your pop culture, you are probably aware that the name of this food drive comes from a classic Thanksgiving episode of WKRP IN CINCINNATI. Back in my WYSP days, I believe this was 1989, I was paid a visit by “Les Nessman” (Richard Sanders). He revisited that ill-fated promotion from the show and even the “Big Guy Mr. Carlson” (Gordon Jump) called in. Give a listen! And Happy Thanksgiving!!
Day #21: Peter Frampton
FRAMPTON COMES ALIVE came out the year that I began the radio biz at WPRL (“Radio with Balls!”) in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1976. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined then that Peter would weave in and out through my radio career particularly here at MGK. I’ll never forget the thrill of interviewing him in his hotel room just hours prior to him going onstage at our 2nd Let Freedom Rock Fest. He couldn’t have been more gracious during that hour and a half and I was even able to give his son Julian some tips on where to go skateboarding in Center City. There was the random time that I picked up the phone in the air studio (the request line!) and it just happened to be Peter calling in to say thanks and Merry Christmas.
I strung together a few interview clips here along with some of that phone call. I’m so glad that I was able to see Peter on his Farewell tour this year. He was (and still is!) amazing.
Day #20: “California Airchecks”
So there’s a guy named George Junak who goes around to radio stations across the country and tapes DJs in action. He puts out a DVD called CALIFORNIA AIRCHECKS and I’ve been featured three times over the past 20+ years. In fact, he just came in a couple of months ago to tape one of my final shows. Here are a few clips he taped from 2003. Cart machines! Cueing up CDs!
Day #19: TV Throwbacks
So I hate myself on camera. Or I did for a long time. I got nervous, was self-conscious (and that’s when I was skinny!) and I was never sure where to look for the camera. But over the years, the folks at WHYY and then eventually, at American Public TV, would occasionally ask me to come in as the “classic rock expert” and talk about Tom Petty or The Moody Blues or whatever rockers they might be featuring on a fund raising special. Although I still get anxious doing these, the key is being prepared. I actually LOVE doing them now and in recent years have co-hosted specials for Jeff Lynne’s ELO, Little Steven, Heart, Gregg Allman and many others. These videos here are from the earlier days at WHYY, I’m thinking late 90’s…judging from the hair and the forehead. hahaha
When I’m retired, I hope to do more of these with American Public Television.
Day #18: Commercials and Promos
Commercials are necessary to keep a radio station on the air. Advertisers and sponsors pay our rent, our salaries and allow us to run fun contests. I know. I know. There are too many. Some are annoying. You hear the same ones over and over. But again, they are literally vital to the station’s daily operations. Often, you will hear us DJs “endorsing” a product or service. And often, we are extremely lucky to be able to experience those products or services firsthand.
I did commercials for Air Tran airways for many years, and WOW…..I was able to fly anywhere they flew. Business Class. I could book friends and family for free. It was the best ever.
I also did many different auto dealership endorsements and that was really fun driving all different kinds of cars. Except that one time when I was driving a Corvette and got pulled over for reckless driving. Oops. Too much temptation with that car. I gave it back pretty quickly.
Sometimes the sales team can get a bit “eager” shall we say. Like the time I was asked if I’d be willing to undergo oral surgery for a potential dentist client. Um no. Or fast for a month on a nutritional program. I don’t think so. Baring all for a men’s club. You’ve got to be kidding.
Here are a few commercials and promos from over the years….(and sometimes I even pulled my family into them!)
Day #17: The Day that Chippy Met Debbi
As I’ve been putting together these 30 Days of Debbi posts, I realized that my husband Chip has always only known me as a radio DJ (in the professional sense that is, haha). We met at a radio promotion, of course. He was the oh so cute guitar player in a band called THE DRINKERS and they were playing at the East Side Club. I was working in the Promotions Dept. as well as on the air at WYSP and was in charge of decorations. I was there during soundcheck and was huffing and puffing blowing up balloons when Chip came over to introduce himself and to tell me that I didn’t need my mouth to do that…there was a machine. Quite the pickup line. I was smitten from that first minute. What he DIDN’T tell me was that he had a girlfriend but we eventually sorted that out and we’ve now been married for over 30 years. I’ll let him tell the story…Take a listen below, and see the gallery here!
Day #16: Grace Slick
Among my most favorite and meaningful interviews while at MGK was having Grace Slick in the studio for a half hour or so. When I was just a little Debbi around 11-12 years old, one of the albums that stayed on my turntable constantly was Jefferson Airplane’s SURREALISTIC PILLOW. How could I have ever possibly dreamed that one day I’d actually not only talk to HER but also hang out for several hours with bassist Jack Casady.
In this interview snippet, Grace talks about her infamous visit to the Nixon White House (her mission was to dose him!), her daughter (with bandmate Paul Kantner) China and her feelings about growing older.
Day #15: Let Freedom Rock FestOne of my favorite events that MGK initiated in 2000 and did for many years was our Let Freedom Rock Fests. I have so many fantastic memories of the days we were at Cooper River Park from morning till night. We weathered rain, thunderstorms and extreme heat on several occasions but overall, it was a fabulous way to celebrate July 4th proper. Appropriately, the very first one was with America. We had Robert Hazard, Peter Frampton, Cheap Trick, Randy Bachman, Kansas, Pat Benatar, Joan Jett, Paul Rodgers, Dave Mason and so many others over the years. Eventually we moved to the BB&T Pavilion and there we’ve hosted ZZ Top, Jeff Beck, Boston and more. The name of the event morphed into The Big Gig over time as well.Some of the more thrilling moments for me: holding Rick Nielsen’s 5 necked guitar (thanks to his guitar tech!), spending an hour plus with Peter Frampton at his hotel room at the Four Seasons just hours before he was going to hit the stage, playing a song that my husband Chip Roberts and Robert Hazard had recorded together as The Roberts (get it?) on the radio prior to Robert’s performance, and interviewing Dave Mason in his trailer minutes before he was going to perform. In those earlier days of Let Freedom Rock Fest, we would broadcast live all day and often, interviews were done on the fly. There is nothing quite like the excitement of producing a live event as it happens. I’ll never forget the thrill of timing out the broadcast to coincide perfectly with the launch of the fireworks display we would put on every year.
And we also gave a lot of local musicians exposure and a chance to share the stage with some of Rock’s biggest acts. Many of our MGK Housebands got to share the spotlight and play to audience numbers that were beyond their imagination. See my Let Freedom Rock gallery HERE.
Day #14: Beatlestock
In 1998, Dan Michaels, our Program Director at the time, came up with the idea of BEATLESTOCK. It was to be a full day on air as if the Beatles were actually playing a Woodstock type event. We ran promos for weeks ahead of it. All of us totally got into the frame of mind that we were broadcasting from a huge outdoor concert. Even though it might’ve seemed a little silly, we completely immersed ourselves in the idea. We had a huge map in the studio with a layout so we’d all be consistent in our descriptions. We had sound effects such as helicopters, crowd noise, applause and of course music from The Beatles from 9A-Midnight that day. Along with my “broadcast”, my fellow DJs at MGK at the time (Lauren Valle, Catfish and Allen, and Mike Bowe) all got into the spirit of things as well. All day long, we received calls in the studio wondering WHERE BEATLESTOCK was happening and whether or not tickets were still available! hahaha I have to say we did a pretty amazing job! Take a listen for yourself! (and check out my Paul McCartney signed LP….Andre made that happen!!!)
Day #13: John Paul Jones
Over the years, we had some fantastic guests at the MGK Classic Rock Art Shows. Particularly in the earlier days at the Shops at Liberty Place, we were set up for performances from whomever might be in town for a show. When I heard that John Paul Jones, bassist and multi-instrumentalist from Led Zeppelin was coming by to spend an hour plus with me, I just about passed out. I have been a HUGE Zep fan all these years so this was truly a bucket list moment for me. What a thrill. And he couldn’t have been nicer. He was also not much taller than me which was surprising. I’ve edited down a bit of his time on air with me that day. Take a listen!
Day #12: Jackson Browne
I think most people who’ve listened to me for any length of time know of my fondness for Jackson Browne. I’ve actually met and interviewed Jackson a number of times. In my early days of radio, I drove from Charlotte to Atlanta (a good 4 hours or so) to see him play. I talked my way backstage and for a minute, it was just him and me. I gave him a poem I wrote. I then drove all the way back to Charlotte to be on the air at 6AM. Stalker much? hahaha. Another time post-concert, he ended up in my friends’ hotel room and we all ended up talking all night long. Well except for me. I was tongue-tied. I mean Jackson Browne was literally two feet away from me until the sun came up! I babysat for his toddler son Ethan at a No Nukes rally, I’ve been to countless concerts and I even picked him up at the Philadelphia airport one crazy New Years night 2016. And no matter how many times I’ve talked to him, he STILL never remembers me! sigh. Take a listen to my ON THE RECORD podcast about our airport adventure which was a doozy.
Day #11: Chip’s Jingles
Anyone who has listened to me for any length of time knows about my husband Chip Roberts. When I first met him, it was a radio station promotion. He was the guitarist in the band (The Drinkers) and I was struggling to blow up balloons to decorate the East Side Club (who remembers??) He told me that there was an easier way to do this besides by mouth (a pick up line if I ever heard one but what he meant was with a helium tank). I was hooked from the beginning. Chip had gained status as a “local guitar legend” and I was excited when WMGK hired him to do jingles and music beds for the station. He and John Lilley (The Hooters) recorded a number of different musical styles and it was really fun to do the weather or the traffic over music that my husband had written and recorded. Among the musicians they used: Rob Hyman of The Hooters on keyboards, Hank Carter (Thorogood’s Destroyers) on sax as well as Bill Blough (bass) and Jeff Simon (drums) also from The Destroyers and many other local musicians. And at the end, a special holiday treat that has been a perennial holiday favorite here at MGK called COW CHRISTMAS. Give a listen!
Day #10: Artist IDs
Over the years, I’ve been SO fortunate to interview many rock stars, actors, comedians, politicians and others in the spotlight. I can tell you that it NEVER gets old particularly when you’ve been a fan of their music and/or work. One of the most exciting things is when said rock star etc. actually SAYS YOUR NAME!!!!! I’ve tried to compile some of the station IDs I’ve collected over the years here at MGK. I know there’s a box somewhere in a closet in my house that also has a bunch from other stations in my past but it’s a bit difficult these days to digitally transfer from a “cart” (kind of like an 8 track tape….something that we used to use in the way back days of radio). So here’s a few of my MGK favorites.
Day #9: Strange Places for Interviews
Sometimes you’ve gotta catch an interview on the fly wherever you may be. I was once at a post-show party for The Who at a promoter’s house in Denver, Colorado. My ex-husband’s radio partner was a HUGE Who fan but he had to be on the air really early the next morning so I told him I would do my best to get someone from the band on tape. Well it turns out that bassist John Entwistle was game but ONLY if we conducted the interview in the bathtub. Oh how I wish I still had audio or a pic from THAT conversation! Keeping in the bathroom theme, I once interviewed Mick Fleetwood in the bathroom at the TLA. Not sure why, but the acoustics were good. Sadly, the cassette has mangled and tangled over the years so I can’t reproduce it here, BUT I did remind him of this years later when we talked again. The only place that I could grab a chat with Carl Palmer was at his hotel gym while he was suspended mid-air.
Another very memorable interview was literally done underneath the stage at a Billy Joel concert at the (then) First Union Center just as the band was getting ready to hit the stage. Mike Bowe and I grabbed drummer Liberty DeVitto and had a very quick chat right before Lib hopped behind his kit. Give a listen:
Day #8: Debbi’s Break from MGK
In 1996, I was going through a lot personally. I decided that I needed to leave MGK and move to North Carolina to be near my parents. At that point, I’d been here for about 3 years. I not only quit the best job ever I also uprooted Chip and Dustin. Luckily I came to my senses and was able to come back to MGK. Whew! And here I am some 23 laters later. (this time it’s for real though!) Here’s my On The Record podcast about how I almost didn’t stay at MGK.
Day #7: Joe Walsh’s Lunch Hour
In September of 1997, Program Director Dan Michaels set up a fun collaboration with Joe Walsh and Rick the Bass Player. The two of them took over my 70 Minute Lunch Hour by phone from the road. In those days, Joe didn’t get a wake up call: he got a “go to bed” call. Although he had gotten sober at this point, I still had the “dump” button ready because with Joe, you never know. We had a good time with listeners singing Joe Walsh songs, Joe encouraging the audience to all bring bongos to the show at the Electric Factory and talking about him singing the National Anthem the next day at the Phils game. I just recently found the cassette of this day; a clip is below, and the whole hour is HERE.
Day #6: Debbi Wins a Grammy
How could I ever have even dreamed that one day I would be on stage at the Grammys? And actually be on the receiving end of an award? Well, it happened and what a whirlwind that was. Several years in a row, I had been asked by local producers Steve Pullara and Kevin Mackie to lend my voice to projects they were working on. I was happy to do so.There were a number of people who participated in these projects and on this particular one, Cyndy Drue, Eric Bazilian (The Hooters) and Little Steven were also featured. In 2011, I was asked to read the words of Paula Lizzi and Steve Pullara for an album called ALL ABOUT BULLIES BIG AND SMALL. Bullying had become a very hot topic at the time and the album garnered a lot of attention including a Parents’ Choice Award. Plus for me, it was a personal subject as my son had been bullied a lot in school. When it was NOMINATED FOR A GRAMMY in the Kids Category, we were all extremely excited. I had been to the Grammys the year before with my friend Marcy but knew that I had to go to the LA ceremonies in 2012 to see what the experience was like from an insider’s view. It was thrilling to be in the audience when the category was called and OH MY GOD! when they announced ALL ABOUT BULLIES as the winner, it was like a slo mo dream. A number of us (including Cyndy) were in attendance and we were all welcomed to the stage. What a proud moment. My parents finally felt validated in my career choice! hahaha. The producers got the statues but I have an embossed framed certificate for my participation and it’s one of my most prized possessions.
And this year, I have been honored to add my voice to another project of producer Kevin Mackie. It’s a film called ONE LITTLE FINGER and who knows? Maybe we’ll end up at the Oscars for this one!! Take a listen to my On The Record podcast about that experience.
Day #5: MGK Time Tunnel 1976
Over the years, I’ve done a number of features here at MGK. First off, can I just say that Noontime Nuggets is possibly one of the, if not THE longest running radio features in Philadelphia. The request show got its start at WYSP under the tutelage of Randy Kotz way back in the the mid-80’s. I inherited it when I took over middays at YSP. It went on hiatus for awhile until YSP’s rights to the name expired and then we took it up again here at MGK. Meanwhile, I’d been doing a request show we called THE 70 MINUTE LUNCH HOUR. We even had little clocks made up with the extra ten minutes as promotional items. I also have done features at 10AM like the 10 O’CLOCK COFFEE BREAK, the 10:10 THEME THING and the current CONNECT 3. But WAY back in the 90’s, I had a feature called the MGK TIME TUNNEL. Each day, I’d feature a particular year in the 70’s and give fun little facts about what was happening at that time. Take a listen! CLICK HERE
Day #4: You Want Me To Do WHAT?!
Sometimes DJs are asked to do silly and crazy things for radio promotions. Like milking goats. Yeah, I did that. I also drove a BMW at 155mph around their racetrack in South Carolina. It’s also not uncommon for us to be asked to do things that we have absolutely NO qualifications for. I’ve sung (ouch), I’ve acted in a play (terrifying!) and I’ve called BINGO (now THAT was FUN!). I recently was asked to moderate a discussion on movie soundtracks. I did it but I had to do a LOT of homework beforehand.
Anyway, I did an ON THE RECORD podcast a few years back about some of the things that I’ve been asked to do over the years all in the name of radio. Enjoy!
Day #3: Funny Phone Calls
So you can only imagine that during all these years answering phones in the studio (no, I don’t have a producer and yes, I do answer all the calls myself!), I’ve gotten a few doozies. I WOULD like to give a shout out to all those regular callers who are there with me every single day. When the phone lights up at 10:20AM, I know it’s Rob from Jersey. If it’s 1:30PM, it’s Peter. If I don’t hear from Bill from South Philly or Doreen or Joe, I get worried. I’ve been to listeners’ birthday parties, their retirement parties and shared in their heartaches and joys over the years. That’s probably been the most special part of my job.
With that said, at times there are “huh?” kinda moments on the phones and here are a few of those:
Day #2: David Crosby Made Me Nervous!
People often ask me about my favorite interview. I don’t know if I would say this was my favorite but it certainly WAS my most memorable. In 2003, David Crosby was out doing a publicity tour for the band he formed with his long lost son Raymond Pevar. The band was called CPR and as David typically does, he was totally immersed in what he was doing at the moment. I was excited and nervous because DAVID CROSBY! He was coming into the studio and initially the idea was to record him while I was also doing an airshift but we decided that it would be best just to have him live on air for the hour or so that I had him. Again, nervous because DAVID CROSBY! He was certainly known to speak his mind and get quite political so I had to be ready with the “dump” button just in case. It was a cold rainy day and David had had a bad experience with a TV station earlier that morning so he was grumpy and cranky when he came to the studio. I had been preparing for a week for this interview so I laid out my plan to him that we could approach his career chronologically ending up with his current project. He started berating me (off air) right away saying “you have no intention to play my new music or talk about my new project, do you?” I kept reassuring that yes, we would definitely get to that but it would be towards the end of the interview. I was shaking and my heart was beating rapidly but I was determined to do the interview that way I had planned. As soon as I turned on the mic and we were live on the air, David was as charming and talkative and funny as he could possibly be but as soon as I would turn off the mic, he would start in on me again. I was almost in tears. But I kept on going. And it was one of the best interviews that I ever did. I did have to cut him off at one point when he started getting overtly political and some angry phone calls started to come in. And yes, we finally did get around to playing a couple of CPR songs! Hear more about this crazy day HERE.
Day #1: Debbi’s First Day at MGK
I don’t remember all the details about my first day at MGK but it was a Saturday airshift. And I was SO grateful to be back on the air again after a number of months being unemployed. A little background: I had been unceremoniously let go from WYSP after 10 years. Ed Sciaky and I got canned the same weekend. Ed went first. It was early October and I remember this because I was having a 2nd birthday party for my son Dustin. Ed called and said he’d gotten the axe after getting off air on Friday afternoon and was told that there were going to be changes (with an “s”). I agonized all weekend but went in on Monday morning, waiting until Howard Stern got off air. I started feeling cocky and went into my boss’s office and said “so I guess I’m NOT one of the changes?” To which he replied “about that…” and that was it.
So when my former boss Andy Bloom told me that WMGK was going to be making changes from their easy listening format to something that would be up my alley, I was all ears. I thank Andy and also Program Director at the time, Julian Breen for bringing me onboard during MGK’s Greatest Hits of the 70’s transition. What a wild time! Playing The Spinners next to Joni Mitchell next to Bad Company next to Bob Marley. If it came out in the 70’s, it was fair game. And what fun to work alongside Harvey, Mike Bowe, Chris McCoy, Juan Varleta, Bill Womack, T Morgan and so many others. And what a sheer delight to share the hallways with the WPEN icons like Joe Niagara, Wee Willie Weber, Elaine Soncini, Tom Moran, Dean Tyler, Ed Hurst and on and on.
Within a few weeks, I was working the midday shift which I have done here at MGK since 1994. I never could’ve imagined I would be here so long and I am so honored. In the earlier years, I was able to drop my son off at school AND pick him up. It’s been the greatest shift ever and the greatest run ever. From the Greatest Hits of the 70’s to Classic Hits to Classic Rock….thank you for letting me be a part of your lives every day!