It Was Twenty Years Ago Today, Part XLV

It was Sunday night (really Monday Morning, February 15-16, 1987. I was in the studio at KSTP, getting ready to do the “Mitch Berg Show”.

I was talking with one of our engineers. Most of the station’s engineering staff was in their sixties, and had been with Hubbard Broadcasting since the late forties. Between them, they had eighty-odd years of engineering experience.

I was sitting up, killing time with one of them. My confidence level was up to the point where I could actually sit and talk before a show, rather than frantically planning and making sure I had every conceivable base covered.

The thing about engineers (back in the days when stations still had to have them) was that there was no keeping secrets from them. In an industry where air talent and salespeople had about a 100% annual turnover, engineers – who tended to survive cutbacks in those days – provided the institutional memory for most radio stations.

We got to talking about the boss, Pervy LeDouchebag [1].

The engineer told us a story from Pervy’s past.

“Back when he was working at (a Hubbard station) in about ’74 – no, ’75…no, I think it was ’74. I should ask [another engineer], he’d know if it was ’74 or ’75…”

The engineer tended to fly easily off onto his own tangents. But he came back on point eventually.

“Anyway, Pervy was working news back then. He left the studio after his 3PM newscast to go get lunch.”

“And he didn’t come back at 4. Or 5. Or 6…”

“He didn’t come back the next day, or the next day, or all weekend, or the first two days of the next week. Finally, the following Wednesday, he comes back to the studio in time for his 4PM newscast – reeking of booze, wearing the same clothes he’d been wearing when he left. He grabs some copy , and tries to walk into the studio to do his next newscast, like he’d never left. He got really pissed when they wouldn’t let him on the air”

“The checked him into detox. He had no idea where he’d been!”

“Finally, they went over his credit card receipts. He’d been in Detroit, then New Orleans, and then Memphis, and finally back to the Cities.”

I’d started in radio when I was 16. It’s not like I’d not run into egregious alcoholics in the business.

But this was the guy running the station.

I shook the story off and did my show. And had a ball with it.

[1] A pseudonym.

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