25 Years in Lake Charles Radio: Who Knew It Would Last That Long?
On July 22, 1994, I did my very first show in Lake Charles on LA99. Hard to believe that after four or five ownership changes, twelve general managers, and a plethora of on-air and would be on-air talent (not to mention salespeople), I’m still here since my first few radio jobs lasted an average of two or three years while one lasted a mere nine months.
I spent the first couple of weeks here looking for a place to live. The furniture was being packed up at the house in Delaware and wouldn’t arrive until the first week in August. I remember looking in the paper for rentals and not having much luck until one Sunday after church I managed to get a place on Cypress Street near the mall. It was a relatively new two-bedroom duplex, and the folks next door freaked out when they saw that big moving van pull up to unload our stuff. It was a challenge stuffing the contents of a three-bedroom house into a two-bedroom duplex. What the neighbors didn’t realize, though, was that another load (somebody else’s stuff) was on the same truck. Needless to say, we did not unpack everything because the next order of business was to buy a house.
There have been many changes over the past twenty-five years, both in radio and in Lake Charles. The station was in Westlake along with KLCL. We still used CDs and carts at that time, and we had to pull our songs and commercials each hour. I think that and the fact that we had to be in the studio to manually run the show added to the energy we had on the air. These days, radio is mostly computer-driven and all the DJ has to do is talk. We now have six stations broadcasting out of one building in Lake Charles.
A lot of the fun was doing remotes. We had the LA99 super roving radio, which we towed everywhere, and we had radio lotto, too. We had folks who showed up at remotes just to play the lotto game and to partake of the pizza that was delivered by the roving radio’s sponsor.
I remember taking the radio to Deridder, Jennings and the Cameron Fur Festival. I think it was during my first trip to Cameron that a wheel fell off during the trip. We also did our shows with the radio from Contraband Days. Talk about hot fun in the summertime! Our Saturday night concerts there were the best!
Nelson Road was two lanes when we moved here. Walmart was where Stine is now and it was not a superstore. Many of the businesses along Nelson now probably weren’t even being thought of in 1994. There were few national sit-down type restaurants. Shoney’s was here when we arrived, then came Outback and Applebee’s, and Ruby Tuesday. The last two are gone but we now have a bunch more. Our house was surrounded by moats (drainage ditches) which have since had culverts put in and covered. It means more yard to mow, but that’s okay.
Thanks to George Swift and Don Rivers who hired me and a special thanks to Sara Cormier who kept me here when the big poohbahs at Gap Broadcasting said they didn’t really need an afternoon person for the format we were running at the time. She either thought I was a valuable employee, or she knew that nobody was hiring 57-year-old (at the time) disc jockeys.
When I started this radio journey forty-five years ago at a small mom and pop radio station in southeast Ohio, I never imagined I’d work for one of the largest media companies in the country.