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Chapter 7: WGUC Becomes a Career

Myron hard at work...as usual.

Those were heady days for me. I was pleased to be working with radio veterans George Brengle and Carolyn Watts. In a way, we were all learning how to be a classical station as we went along. If you wanted to make a flow-chart, you’d have needed a few different boxes of colored pens to figure out who did what and how much. We experimented and did some foolish things and some marvelous ones. Carolyn had a program interviewing musicians of the CSO to learn about the instruments, and we even once put together a couple of Gilbert and Sullivan works using LP records for the music part, and the dialogue performed by us, with additional retired radio actors of some renown, and my wife, Nancy. Somehow we grew from starting on the air each day at 4 PM to a 24-hour station. I said more than once that I thought I learned more about music from being with WGUC than I had at a music school, but actually I learned different things. But for sure I had access to more music in our library.

I may be giving the impression here that I was having a lot of fun, doing things I wanted to do, playing the music I wanted to hear. Well, yes. Of course. But I knew you were there. What I scheduled and played was so that I could share it with you. I still have that habit -- the rare visitor in my apartment is liable to be asked if he/she would like to hear anything. In an earlier chapter I noted the progress of the technologies of radio and recording and music. It was beginning to go faster around this time, and a few years after I began at WGUC we took the fairly large step of broadcasting in stereo. Then in what seems a very short time the Compact Disc came along, and I used my contacts with the Phillips record company to get a Phillips CD player, and WGUC was the first Cincinnati station to broadcast a digital recording on a CD. The technology kept on coming, even faster after I left, it seems to me. And I’m still amazed at the changes we’ve been witness to.

I didn’t talk about my saxophones on the air. But John Birge had every right to mention his French horn, because he was a professional musician, who had played many times with the CSO when a piece had a larger than usual horn section. John became the “morning man” when Paul Laumann retired. For several years I shared an office with John and other announcers including Peggy Schmidt and Lisa Ledin. We got work done, but we talked a lot too…about music, about announcing music, about radio. Once in a great while I would make a suggestion to John about his work. Sometimes he took the suggestion, and it was good. Sometimes he didn’t, and I finally realized that he made the right choice for himself. I like to think that I had some influence on his remarkable progress, and I hope he doesn’t mind that I’m proud of him. Oh, yes - I learned a thing or two from him too.

I felt very privileged in those days, as I was able to meet and talk to world-famous musicians both local and visiting. And I got to travel to the conventions of The Music Personnel Conference, as it was called in those days, and meet and converse with music directors and announcers and managers from all around the country, and with the people from the record companies who were very helpful. We’d always schedule the conference to coincide with music festivals all around the country. I served as president of the group for a few years too, a distinction I shared with Evans Mirageas, although he came along several years after my reign.

If you listened to my programs, I think you could tell I was especially interested in 20th century composers, especially living ones. I not only enjoyed talking with them but I learned a lot from George Crumb, George Rochberg and others. I felt extremely lucky when John Cage was invited by UC’s College Conservatory of Music to be composer in residence for two semesters. I interviewed him several times and we talked even when not near a microphone, and exchanged letters from time to time after his residency. I’m especially proud that he called me his friend.

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