My record store adventures opened another door for me. That door was my entryway into radio. For 25 years, I played music on the radio while fulfilling my quest to turn listeners on to music I admire. Somewhere along that path I made a detour and started interviewing authors on the radio.
Books proved to be just as exciting and vibrant for me as music ever was. I rarely look back. Next year will mark the 30th anniversary of my first author interview on the radio. When I pause to remember all those authors a lot of moments stand out.
There was the time I spent the day with the historian Studs Terkel. He was here to accept the first Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Lifetime Achievement. I had my assignment, to keep the octogenarian awake. I was warned, don’t let him nod off, he’s very difficult to wake up. We chatted all day long. That evening, I introduced him to the audience.
The singer Judy Collins came out to discuss her memoir. When she entered the studio she heard the music I was playing and burst into song. As I gazed into her eyes I recalled the love song Stephen Stills wrote for her, “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.” Afterwards I walked her outside where a stretch limousine was idling. I quipped, “Hey, look, our limo has arrived!” She gave me an odd look then climbed into the back seat. It glided away.
The novelist Tom Robbins arrived at WYSO, a half hour late for a live interview. He had a guy he identified as “my lawyer” along with a harried publicist. I asked him; where were you? He replied: “We were down at the Trail Tavern drinking beer.” I had to ask.
We finagled invites to a birthday party for the billionaire Ted Turner. It was also a release party for Turner’s autobiography. The party happened at broadcaster Larry King’s place. There was a portrait of King over the bar composed entirely out of jelly beans. Ted Turner: “You’re from Dayton? I’m from Cincinnati!”
Amy Tan stopped by and brought her little dog. The studio airlock door slammed shut, coming within inches of closing on her wee pooch. She said: “Oh, he’s used to doing interviews with me. This is the first time I wasn’t going to have him with me.” Apparently she did not inform the dog.
So many stories. Some fun. Some are sad. Telling stories, I suppose that has been my purpose, too.
Vick Mickunas of Yellow Springs interviews authors every Saturday at 7 a.m. and on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. on WYSO-FM (91.3). For more information, visit www.wyso.org/programs/book-nook. Contact him at email@example.com.