This past week, I spent about six hours cleaning out my cubicle at Eagle Radio. I kept two large boxes of "radio stuff" and filled several blue recycle bags with past years' material -- amazing what a packrat can accumulate over 44 months.
Early in 2007, I had an idea for a radio program directed toward our senior population. We were being placed on the back burner with little or no older generational radio or television programs, nor any jazz or swing music, except for Bill Miller's great Sunday morning "oldies" music on KAYS.
I took my idea to Gary Shorman, CEO of Eagle Communications, broached the program format, and I told him that I couldn't, and wouldn't, do the program without KAYS radio broadcaster Mike Cooper. He liked the idea, and suggested that I discuss the program with Cooper about doing the program on KAYS in the 9 a.m. hour on a Monday to Thursday schedule.
Mike and I had lunch and discussed the program format. He said, "This is the way it would work." I would do all the work, choose the program topics, find the guest participants, make the phone contacts, research the topic and go on the air after the news, weather and sports at about 9:15 a.m.
Mike said, "I'll run the board (controls), and ask 'insightful' questions about the topic" -- thanks, Mike.
He said let's try it for two months.
I also told Shorman I believed that this interview program would be more interesting if it had ECTV coverage on cable channel 14. I then took the idea to ECTV's Joe Engel, but he needed to think about it. Then, one day I was shopping at the big box store, and a voice whispered in my ear, "I'll leave the switch on for another hour from 9 to 10 a.m." -- good news. Mike and I looked at many program names, and he suggested we call it "Coming of Age." It seemed to fit.
We co-hosted the program and went on the air on April 16, 2007, with first guests Arris Johnson and Marilyn Marshall to talk about our senior community. We decided to use the program to inform, educate and entertain our seniors, and then, gradually, we opened the program content to general community programs, issues and entertainment.
Since Mike had decided to take Fridays off, we moved those forum programs into Thursday morning,
Spending four morning and two evening hours to prepare and review my research, I used a holiday calendar, a radio promotional calendar and the "Welcome to Hays" calendar of events to topic the programs.
Of all the invited guests, only two refused, saying "I can't do this on radio and/or TV -- it would scare me to death." Well, I didn't want that responsibility. I produced programs with guests from Washington, D.C., Topeka, Wichita and Calgary using our 800 number into the studio.
Our guests ranged in age from teenagers to centenarians. Most of our guests have said "You guys make this easy. Time flies by when you're having fun."
At the end of last year, Mike decided to retire after 43 years of broadcasting, all on KAYS, and the station management was looking for a new program format, with Scott Boomer "replacing" Cooper. Therefore, "Coming of Age" would not continue into 2011.
I'm still a seniors' advocate, and I hope to bring some new community events and activities as "Time Goes By." Thanks for the memories.
Harry Watts, Hays, is a member of the Generations Advisory Group.