How It Came To This
By Paul Ingles (Click on Hot Links for Audio Samples)
I was one of those kids in the sixties that latched on to radio as a good friend.
I grew up in the Maryland suburbs of Washington D.C. listening to Washington
Senators games, Top 40 music radio, and later progressive FM. I was a sportswriter
and photographer for the Walt Whitman High School paper and got my first professional
journalism paycheck from the Journal Newspapers, a suburban weekly.
At Wake Forest University, I figured I'd pursue print journalism as well but
wound up accepting a dare from one of my dorm-mates to go up to the university
radio station, WFDD
(aircheck) , and get my own music show. Stepped into
my first radio station there in 1975 and have been working in radio and television
ever since. At WFDD, you could do it all if you gave it the time. And I sure
tried to do it all - rock, classical and jazz music shows, news and sports reporting,
remotes, student staff management. I did a news internships at WASH
(aircheck) in Washington and WXII-TV in Winston-Salem.
I couldn't get enough. A great break for me came along when WFDD became the
flagship station for the Wake Forest Sports Network and I became the remote
engineer and auxiliary color man for a couple of years. I also filed my
first reports for the then fledgling National Public Radio network while
still at WFDD in 1977 and '78.
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA
real job was as a radio and print reporter for WAYS
(newscast) Radio and the WEEKLY NEWPAPERS in Charlotte,
North Carolina, in 1978. I was primarily a city hall beat reporter in a competitive
news reporting market.
After about a year there, I was offered a job as city hall reporter for the
NBC-TV affiliate, WRET-TV
(news reports). Then owned by Ted Turner but in the
process of being sold to Westinghouse during my tenure. A hiring freeze during
the sale meant that no one who left was replaced and I think by the end of my
9 months or so there, I was one of two reporters that seemed to be doing all
the stories for the evening newscasts. It was fun for awhile and I'm glad I
tried it but I think it cured me of any desire to become a full-time television
left in the fall of 1979 to work as Sports Director where I had always wanted
to work since graduation - legendary WBT
(aircheck) in Charlotte. Its coast-to-coast north-south
nighttime signal and a history spanning back to the 20's helped make it the
market leader. I wound up doing both morning and afternoon drive-time sportscasts
and co-hosting the morning show with a parade of morning men in 5 years there.
For a couple of years, I managed also to do a morning TV sportscast on WBTV
(TV sportscast) down the hall. After awhile, I became
more intrigued with the overall programming of radio, applied to become WBT
Program Director, didn't get the job, and decided to step down from the lofty
pedestal and mighty audience of WBT to learn more about programming at a smaller
That station was WGSP
(mini-doc). An AM daytimer that was programming oldies
of all kinds when I was hired as morning man and Program Director in 1984. Ultimately,
we turned it into one of the country's first real classic rock stations in 1985
and really began to attract some attention. We were
the second most listened to AM station (to WBT) in the market and we had a blast
- for awhile. Our weak signal and out-of-town owners limited us. Another FM
station started doing the format, WGSP
(aircheck) was sold to religious broadcasters in 1986,
and the staff scattered.
I continued in Charlotte for a time, doing a gig I'd picked up back in 1978,
the host of a weekly news roundtable on WTVI
(TV clip), the public television station. Kind of
a local Washington Week In Review. But by the summer of '86, I was heading
ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO
Why Albuquerque? Love, that's why? My then-girlfriend, and later wife, Suzanne,
was getting a doctorate at the University of New Mexico. I went out without
work but managed to get hired as Promotions Director at a new FM start-up, KKBR
(profile) . Programmatically it was ahead of its time.
A cross between AAA and Classic Rock - somewhat modeled after KBCO in Denver.
Over my year there, I was elevated from promotions to on-air talent, then finally
Program Director. Our impatient and under-funded owners gave up on the format
(way too soon) and went to satellite oldies and I was, for the first but not
the last time, fired.
Even though I had only been in radio 11 years by then, I thought I knew it
all, and tried setting up my own medium and small market consultancy, calling
it Rock Radio Concepts. Had a great brochure, some good ideas and basically
no clients. I worked part-time as a production assistant and weekend air talent
at the local rock music leader KZRR
-94 Rock (aircheck) until a strange thing happened.
I got a call late in 1988 from the owners of a classic rock station in Cleveland,
Ohio. The owners were the same ones who had come into Charlotte and taken the
classic rock of WGSP to FM. They had offered me a job in Charlotte then but
it wasn't Program Director and besides, Suzanne was in Albuquerque, so we didn't
hook up then. Frankly, they were having a hard time hiring someone for their
Cleveland station because it meant going up against the legendary rocker WMMS
- The Buzzard.
I don't really know where I was on the ladder of candidates. I might have been
the only person who didn't know what I was getting into and said yes. So I moved
to Cleveland in November of 1988 as Program Director of WNCX
WNCX was kind of already on its way to mounting a legitimate challenge to WMMS
when I got there. We made a few changes, souped up the marketing a bit and before
long we had tied WMMS in the 12+ratings and topped them in many of the key demos.
It was exciting, high-pressure work - fun but tough on the nervous system. When
a third general manager came on in 1990 and the ratings wobbled a bit one book,
I was sacrificed - first demoted to Assistant Program Director, then let go.
Fired for a second time. Ouch!
It was the best thing that ever happened to me. I went to Cleveland State for
a communications masters degree, started dabbling in public radio again -at
clip) in Cleveland- and basically redirected my career. Specifically
we redirected back to Albuquerque in 1992.
ALBUQUERQUE, PART TWO
For two years, I part-timed at three different commercial radio stations at
once, doing Classic Rock at KLSK
(aircheck) , news at KQEO, and "lite-rock"
at KMGA (aircheck).
You'd think three stations at once would have been enough but I also volunteered
at public radio KUNM (website)
University of New Mexico. When the KUNM Production Director position came open
in 1994, I applied and was hired. It was a life-changing event, being hired
there. At KUNM my experience was welcomed in the non-stop training environment
of community radio. I shared what I had learned AND learned so much more in
my 8 years in that post. I worked on great projects, met great people and helped
create some good radio that really served the community in an important way.
After about 5 years in that position, I got the bug to do more free-lance
reporting and production and thankfully KUNM accommodated my request. I
went to part-time in July of 1999 and opened my own home studio and production
company, Cedar Creek Studios. By 2002, I was ready to make a go of it full-time
as a free-lancer and that, my friends, is how it came to this!