Write, Don’t Call

If you’re on Facebook, chances are you belong to one of those “You know you’re from insert-your-town-name-here” groups, in which people share local memories and history. The other day, somebody on the Madison group mentioned the Pyare Square building, a round, 14-story building that contained state offices when it opened in 1969. It had various other tenants through the years, although it’s been mostly vacant since 2005, and it’s reportedly got a date with the wrecking ball in the near future.

One of the tenants that briefly occupied Pyare Square was a radio station, the call letters of which escape me now. Sometime in 1993, that station, which was a Mom-and-Pop operation licensed to one of the outlying towns, put on an all-70s format. In 1994, I was looking for a job, and while my preference was to get out of radio, I was willing to make an exception for an all-70s format in Madison. And so I embarked on a campaign to get them to hire me.

At this distance, I do not remember how I managed to get the station’s general manager to meet me in person. I expect that I called him up and bothered him repeatedly, even after he told me he wasn’t hiring anybody at the moment, until he decided talking to me was the best way to get rid of me. So I drove up to Madison, got a perfunctory tour and an even more perfunctory interview, and was sent on my way.

I was not done trying to get hired, however. I had just gotten a seasonal job that required me to travel. That spring, I went all over the Midwest, from Ohio and Michigan to Minnesota and North Dakota. And at every stop, I bought a cheesy local postcard and sent it to the general manager: “Hi, just checking in from Cincinnati [to name one of my stops]. Will be off the road in a couple of weeks and ready to come work for you.” I kept up a steady stream of postcards from across the Midwest for at least a month.

This story would be better if the general manager had responded to any of my cards, or if I’d gotten the job, but he didn’t, and I didn’t.

There’s evidence from my past to suggest that he still could call me. In 1983, I tried to get Magic 98 to hire me for its first staff, and after I followed up with the general manager several times, he finally told me, “I’ll call you in two weeks.” But he didn’t, and I wasn’t hired at Magic until 25 years later. So I wouldn’t give up hope on the all-70s station until 2019 . . . were it not for the fact that, blown on the winds of mid-90s format fashion, the place changed to something else only a few months after I gave up my courtship.

There’s a reason why radio help-wanted listings always specify “no calls.” But they don’t specify “no postcards,” do they?

(The posting schedule around here, as far as I have one, is weird this week. The next new post will be on Sunday.)

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