BILL STEWART (STEW WILKINS) REMEMBERS:
My biggest thrill in my 25-odd years in radio (many odder than others) was, well,
maybe besides being nominated for Billboard Personality of the Year as an afternoon man
at WSPD in Toledo in 1983, was being a finalist for the midday show at KDKA in Pittsburgh
in 1984. They flew four finalists in on separate weekends to do a a live audition which
conisted of doing four-hour shows on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. It just so happened
that that weekend was one of the coldest in Pittsburgh's history; and consequently I read
billions of cancellations, etc. I did have a ball on the air, though, using the name of my
late grandfather, John Oleair, in the event anybody at my station in Toledo might hear me
on the monster signal that weekend. Actually, some friends did hear me and asked if in
fact it was me! I didn't get the job, but had a ball being on the air.
Before that even, I was offered by Greater Media the job of being Jerry St. Jame's sidekick
at what was then WMJC in Detroit. I not only passed that up but also passed up a Greater
Media offer to do mornings a year later at WMGC in Philly. We had just had our first baby;
WSPD doubled my salary to keep me; and my immediate family started dropping like flies. I
lost my brother (formerly Wild Bill Wilkins of WHK and KNEW when Malrite owned them);
mother; and father in less than two years. Although I didn't notice it at the time I
wasn't as tough as I thought I was being and it came out on my jobs and in passing up even
more "gigs of a lifetime". I hate to look back, but have. I am blessed with a wife whom
I've been married to for 25 years and three teens who are the source of great pride for
I do still feel like a jerk, though, for putting some of the industry's top and nicest
consultants through a lot of crap. There was simply no way for me to convey to them what I
was going through, since I didn't really know myself what it was until years later.
Probably, the most meaningful thing I've done in radio was with Corey Deitz back at WRFD,
that flame-throwing daytimer that had a statewide coverage when it was on the air. Corey
and I received emergency broadcast permission to stay on the air during the Blizzard of
1987 and spent many hours without sleep taking calls; directing four-wheel drives to
stranded people, etc. Corey, of course, is now a radio icon. If you run into him please
tell him I said hello!
It's funny that now that I've been out of radio for a few years, I still miss the hell
out of it! Must be that "radio in your blood" disease that still hasn't been affected by
the antibiotics of reality. :-) My Martial Arts training plus a near death experience in
1999 have helped me release much of the anger that all my family deaths built up. I also
believe that I could go on any station in the world today (no matter what format) and do a
"kick-ass" show with the best of them.
Radio, like anything, is neither good nor bad. It's one attitude that determines how the
perception is. When that attitude is clouded by unresolved anger -- as it was in my
case -- the result will obviously be a great deal less than positive. The same goes for
dealing with management. Whereas I used to have difficulty doing that constructively, I
now believe that with the compassion and understanding I've developed, I would be able to
handle the hardest core PD/Manager/Consultant and any critique they would throw at me.
My wife saw that I was filling out this form and asked me what it was. I told her and
mentioned to her that I still miss radio. She replied, "Who knows? Maybe you'll get back
into it someday." You know, maybe she's right!
Best to everyone in the Biz!
Bill Stewart (Stew Wilkins)
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