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The world should know about the radio business.

I started my radio career by attending the American School of Broadcasting located in Columbus, Ohio back in 1981. Just before graduation I was granted an interview at a radio station. The station was WCOL in Columbus, Ohio. At the time, they had a Big Band format called Al Ham's "Music of Your Life".  The interview was successful and I got the job. I was hired to work the overnight shift on July 1, 1981 and I choose the radio name of Don Steel. During the interview process I was told "not to try to be a star" by the program director Harry Valentine. He stated "There are two stars here, John Fraim and "Spook Beckman" Well I didn't know what to quite make of that, so I just said OK.  I would I find out later just how far he would go to protect his "Stars".

I do my best at everything I attempt and I guess I sort of let that go in one ear and out the other so to speak not knowing what would happen because of it. I was thrilled to be on the Radio, and do a job that I truly loved on a medium market station. Why would I try to do poorly?

That all ended on the night of December 8, 1981 when I received a phone call from Ken Green. He was the person who worked the 6 to midnight shift before I started at midnight. Mr. Green called to accuse me of making an obscene phone call to his wife. I couldn't believe my ears.  At first I thought he was joking, but unfortunately, he wasn't. So I just told him he was badly mistaken and I hung up on him. He called back a minute later swearing and ranting and raving as if it were actually true. I once again told him he was mistaken and if someone did that, it certainly was NOT ME! I said that "I don't make obscene phone calls to anyone, especially the wife of someone I know".

As you probably can imagine, after my shift at 6:00 am I was pretty upset. Normally I would go home and wind down for an hour or two then go to bed. That morning was quite different. I went into the office of Harry Valentine, the program director, and demanded an apology from that man for his false accusations. Valentine said "Well Mr. Green's wife said that you did that. I told him that it was absolutely untrue. I did no such thing, but he simply refused to listen. At short time later I was fired with a letter of recommendation and I left the office with tears in my eyes. Not too many people get fired with a letter of recommendation, but I did, Here's the letter:

I cried for the rest of the day. The next day I went to look for an attorney. I found one and I hired him to represent me to clear my name and reputation and dispute this false accusation. You see I finally figured out after a few days just what had happened here. I was too good. I was trying to be a star or so Valentine thought and the morning jerk John Fraim was pissed off because I sounded better than him at 3am than he did when started his shift at 6. Now it all made sense. They had no real reason to fire me. I was never late, I never missed a day of work or did anything wrong so they had to make up a story to get rid of me. In the meantime I sued them for slander at the tune of 5 million dollars. Jeff Borden had a TV-Radio column with The Columbus Dispatch and he wrote in his column about it on January 1, 1982. What he wrote made it seem like I actually may have done this. Here is his column for the Columbus Dispatch;

I was sound asleep at 12 noon that day just as I always was. I worked the nightshift. Well, my attorney sold me up the river, and we settled out of court for a lousy $2000. of which he got half.

I acquired a job at an adult contemporary station, WZLE in Sheffield Lake, Ohio about a year later. I was doing drive time, producing effective commercial spots, and was quite happy until June of 1983 when the station was sold to Lorain Christian Broadcasting and the Rev. Norfleet R. Jones. He said the current announcers would not fit into a religious format, so we were all fired. How would he know? He never even met me. But this is typical of the radio business. The O'Jays wrote a song about it. It's called "Backstabbers Send any comments to bettervoice@ymail.com".

 

 

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