My radio broadcasting career took me to lots of places and allowed me to meet many wonderful people. Not just recording artists, but "real people." As any well traveled radio deejay will tell you, there's no shortage of invites from listeners... home dinners, birthday parties, summertime swimming pool get togethers (Bud on ice) and beyond. You became a sort of local celebrity. And yes, I attended some invites I wish I hadn't, but those are stories for another time.
I was on the air in West Palm Beach one day when a phone call came through on the listener line while a song was playing. I answered it with my standard hello..."W-I-R-K! Who's this?" I immediately heard a very low, smoky, senior citizen, female voice on the line when she blasted, "Is this deejay John? Are you the one on the air right now?" I wasn't sure I wanted to answer that thinking she might have a listener complaint. (she sounded like a nun I had in grade school!). I paused a second and said "yes it is." She told me that from time to time she would hear me on the air mentioning my Ohio roots and the Cleveland Browns. She said she too was from Ohio and along with her husband Kenneth had moved to Florida to get out of the cold. (all of this chit chat was going on while a song was playing). At one point, she lowered her voice a bit and said, "we like you the most of all the deejays on your station John because you play the best music." I chuckled a bit inside. I didn't have the time to go into details with her about how all of our deejays played the songs from a prepared, paper music "log." The songs were hand-picked for us. In short,we played what the program director or music director told us to play;we had no choice in the matter. I thanked her for the compliment nonetheless. She told me her name was Doris and we wrapped up the call with a friendly goodbye. I told her to call anytime she wanted to. There are a lot of lonely people that call in to radio stations, so I was always open to a little chat while the songs played...my good deed for the day.
Fast forward a few weeks. I was on air when Doris called me again with her unmistakable, husky voice with an invite to join her and Kenneth for a breakfast at Farmer John's restaurant. I couldn't resist, as I'm a HUGE breakfast fan. Besides, she seemed nice. We set something up for a Saturday morning and we would eventually meet in person after exchanging appearance descriptions over the phone. ("I'll be wearing a cowboy hat with boots"). As I approached them at a table (she was very short and pudgy) she eyeballed me and said, "Are you John?"I told her I was and we sat down at the table to get acquainted and order some coffee and food. She said something to me that every radio deejay has heard at some point in their career; "you don't look a thing like you sound on the radio." I would love to counter with, "you don't look a bit like you sound on the station request/listener telephone line." The look I got was always good for a chuckle. Kenneth was an extremely soft spoken, kind and respectful man;very attentive to Doris. They told me they had been married a long time. You could see how much they truly loved each other. Maybe I should say, "you could FEEL how much they loved each other." None of it was put on. Authentic and true... not fake like you see with some couples.
We would go on to have future visits at Farmer John's for breakfast, and whenever a Cleveland Browns game was on TV (this was back in the 80's) I would pick up a 6 pack (or 12) and head over to their house and we'd watch the game together. It was great fun! I'm sure they've passed on by now, but I often think about my unlikely friendship with Doris and Ken. Many fond memories and much admiration. So glad I took them up on their invite.