Barry Michaels

Radio Is My Life!

Barry's Bio 1

I had an incredibly happy childhood. Family, friends. A support group that many don't have today. Hunting, fishing, Boy Scouts, it was All American! Best of all, I had a father I could look up to. Big, strong, and a combat veteran of D-DAY. His name was Aaron, nicknamed, 'Big A'. Since I was seen with him everywhere, I became, 'Little a'. Now you know. I've got a sister that I admire and my Mom was every bit as strong as my Dad, a beautiful woman who made a great impression on me. My Mother would tell you, I would announce my next anticipated diaper change into a cucumber, fresh from our garden. I talked to the little farm animals through my 'microphone stick'. I began listening to the guy who first got me interested in talking into something other than a vegetable, Rick Shultz, host of the the 'Sunday Session' on WHEE Radio, AM 1370 Martinsville, Virginia. Thanks for all the memories Rick. You get the blame/credit for inflicting me on thousands of listeners!

My Hometown Radio..

Here's your chance to hear Rick's newscast from December 26, 1965. I hope you find the headlines as fascinating as I did. Even at his young age-a polished pro! 

Rick Shultz 1968

All The Hits..All The Time!

It's where I was every Sunday afternoon! 

I Need A Woman!

Geez, what a great time to be alive! Late 1960's, I'm in high school, driving a 1958 Corvette that leaked oil like crazy and cost me my whole savings, 900 bucks. Working after school, listening to WHEE during the day and WLS, WGAR, WCFL, WABC, and WBT at night. It seemed that every girl I dated during this time was Debbie or Cindy or some variation thereof. They were all young flowers to be picked, and here, we'll say no more.

My First Gig..

I was working at The American Furniture Company full time, and that radio bug just kept knawing at me. I finally screwed up the courage to approach the General Manager of a radio station outside the listening range of my hometown. Why? I didn't want my friends and family to hear me on the air--yet. I knew I would suck. I was hired as a part time radio personality at WYTI Rocky Mt., Virginia. I'm grinning as I write this because our slogan was 'The Mighty Whitey'. How do you think that would fly today in our 'PC' world? One Sunday afternoon, the owner of a small radio station in Collinsville, Virginia entered my studio and offered me a full time position. Hot damn! One hundred fifty a week! Call the local BMW dealership! I knew WLS will be the next stop. Right. I almost blew it before my career really got off the ground. Here it comes...

Barry Says A Bad Word-On The Air!

My first full time job was great, if you consider that I was working on air from one p.m. until sign off  (Ha! Believe it! AM radio stations did sign off at sun down, depending on where you were geographically in the United States) -that would be 8:45 in the summer months, on the east coast, and then going on the air that midnight at WLOE/Eden,N.C. Off the air at six a.m, a little sleep and back in Collinsville, Va. by one p.m. Did I mention the famous incident in which a rancid piece of meat hit me in the face causing me to drop my first F-BOMB on the air? Well, settle in for a really fun story! Greg Wells, one of our personalities, liked to keep his hamburgers warm by placing them in a 'cart machine'. There is a pinch roller  inside that turns the tape at the proper speed. Our radio station was infested with rats and evidently one of them climbed inside for a tasty snack, therby getting a piece of the meat entwined in the mechanism. At six a.m, I hit my 'BARRY MICHAELS' jingle, which went something like--"GET UP AND GET GOING"--a musical bed at that point for me to say something like "GET YOUR CRACK OUTTA THE SACK!"--followed by the jingle singers and our call letters. What the listeners heard was...the jingle..and me saying..'"GOOD MORNING!" (Wham! the meat hits! ) "IT'S ....WELL F#@$ ME!!", ending, of course, with the jingle singers right on cue! GOD! I still don't know how I got away with that one. I did get a call about it, just one, and the guy says, "I know you didn't say what I thought you did!" Thankfully, he had been out drinking the night before. Can I get a big amen for Mr. Jack Daniels??

Anyone For A Nice, Big, Juicy, Rat Burger?

Nine Stitches..

While on overnights at WLOE/Eden, during part of that time, we ran 'public service' programming. I had trained myself to sleep during these thirty minute segments and to awaken when I heard silence. The complete opposite of what we humans usually do. After starting one of these shows at three a.m., I headed out to the couch to grab some shut-eye. The control room door had a latch on it, and obviously it closed, in effect locking me out of the studio. I didn't know that until the tape broke about five minutes in, I came running down the hall and promptly stuck my arm through the thin glass control room window. I stayed there bleeding until the morning guy showed up, drove over to the hospital and the emergency room staff sewed me up. Dedication or stupidity? You be the judge. I still carry the scar today..

The night guy thought it was the coolest injury he had ever seen. And reminded me from time to time that 'chicks dig scars'! Geez...

 

Here Come The Babies! What Causes That? Bueller..Bueller..

Have I forgotten to mention that I had gotten married, bought a new car, and needed some extra bucks? I left WLOE for local radio at it's best, WMVA Radio, Martinsville, Va., and my first time on FM. (Lord..it sounds so..FULL!) It was during this time that I lost my Dad to a stroke, and I suppose I was looking for support, a family larger than my own. I found it, in my hometown. I worked with real pros, Pete Bluhm, Lynwood Judkins, Mike Evans, Owen Hall. I especially liked the Christmas parties, where Lynwood, (the big boss) had catered dinners and dancing for us inside the radio station climaxing with the presentation of the Christmas Bonus! (Remember those?) I hope he never knew that we got a little 'tight' at one party and thought it would be hilarous to put the janitor on the air! That could be a story for my book. I think the statue of limitations has run out on that incident! Lynwood and his staff could not do enough to make you happy, and everyone made me feel like I belonged. You might be asking yourself-"Why would you want to leave a radio family like that, Barry?" In part due to my Mom and Dad, who urged me to go as far as I could in this world, and because I wanted to see where my talent would take me. While there, I began my own family, with my first son, Aaron. (Remember that name from earlier in the story?) Another short stay in Eden, N.C. at WCBX with Ray and Bertha Childers, the LUCY and RICKY of radio! You just never knew what they would throw at each other. One day, I dodged a wooden eagle! 'Bea' Childers gave me my first shot at being a Program Director of a rock 'n roll radio station and the opportunity to stretch my wings as a morning personality. For that, I will always be grateful. I place a high value on women in broadcasting, and Bertha's job wasn't an easy one. Remember, it was the 1970's and she was a female in a male dominated business. All things considered 'Bea', you did just fine! On to Blacksburg, Va. and WQBX where I picked up two more sons, Sam and Andy, while making 175.00 dollars per week. Since the twins were a 'surprise', and I had no insurance, I went to the hospital administrator and worked out a payment plan. (Just try to do that today! They'll laugh you right out of the office and throw rocks at you!) I wish you could have been there for the big celebration two years later when I finally paid them off! I made extra money by playing music at high school and college dances and because of the great distances I would have to travel, sometimes I didn't get home until dawn. I remember very clearly stopping by streams, splashing cold water on my face to stay awake with only the moon as my constant companion.(I'm not trying to be artsy fartsy here. It's just my way of telling you the radio in the van was broken!) Many of the dances I did were in the mountains of Virginia and West Virginia. I was their major source of entertainment (such as it was), and was always treated like a star. Every time I did a dance for them, these people sent me on my way with hugs, handshakes and food for my family. When I think of them now, I smile. I smile because of their incredible sweetness. These small communities I visited obviously would hold a car wash or a bake sale to bring me to their town. I knew this because five times out of ten I would return with a shoe box full of nickles, dimes and quarters. My boss at that time, always got half of what I made, (it was his van and equipment) and no matter what time I showed up back at the station, he would be there with a grin and his hand out. I did enjoy counting the change and giving it to him!(I always made sure the miser got most of the pennies!) I'm still waiting for a call from the big time, and I did get one, a one thousand watt a.m. radio station that kicked some serious butt and changed my life. That story is next!

WCBX/Eden, North Carolina

"Please, Mr. Michaels, Don't Stop Now"!

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