Saturday, August 25, 2007
Meeting My Lovely Spouse
Welcome to Conversations with Bob. Bob and I are telling our stories.
I enrolled in the Yellowstone School of Broadcasting in the Fall of 1982. The school had just started by DJ Michael May in a storefront in Billings, Montana next to the Tap Inn on Broadwater Street. It was a four-month course in broadcasting designed to give students an understanding of radio. We learned through practice how to read the news, introduce songs, as well as the sales and management side of radio. In the end, we would have an aircheck tape and resume to present to radio station program directors. It was a kick. Radio people are the wildest and weirdest people on Earth.
That is how I discovered my wife known from now on as LS (Lovely Spouse). She was a college drop-out like me from the same college, Montana State University in Bozeman. The year I had taken off on my hitchhiking trip, she as well tripped-out and got on a bus for California. We didn't know each other in college, but we both remembered seeing each other on stage at MSU. I had played Fred, the nephew of Ebeneezer Scrooge, in A Christmas Carol, and she played the ingenue in Something's Afoot.
I remember falling in love when I saw her on stage and fell in love again when she was in my broadcasting class. She was good enough to bring home to mom.
Even though we had only officially dated for a month or so, we decided to get married. She took the longer route at the broadcasting school and wouldn't graduate until May. I had graduated in January and the two of us took a road trip to find a job for me.
I finally landed one at KFLI in Mountain Home, Idaho. I started work there in February of 1983 doing the afternoon shift. We played records then, and I read the news and the agricultural reports. It was a country music station and I didn't know one country tune except "The Gambler" by Kenny Rogers. I was in to heavy metal. I learned to adjust. I lived in a converted army barracks at the rent of $125 per month.
Meanwhile, back in Billings, LS planned for our wedding in May. Her mother was a member of First Presbyterian of Billings and the minister married us in May of 1983. He was not too impressed with me, I am afraid, especially when I told him I didn't believe in God. He thought we were too immature to be married. He was probably right. But in the end, he was wrong. We have been together now for nearly 25 years through thick and thin. (Ironically, as our story unfolds, I succeeded him as pastor of First Pres., Billings. That story to come).
LS joined me in our barracks and landed a job in nearby Boise at KIZN. I also joined that station after about a year. They had an A.M. talk station, KTOX, in the garage. I managed the feed of syndicated talk shows and had an hour of my own to do my own talk show. I interviewed any bizarre character I could find, including one guy who claimed to be a thousand years old.
After a few months I moved up to the FM, also country, KIZN 93 FM and soon worked the afternoon drive shift. I had the highest rated pm drive slot in Boise. Meanwhile, LS moved over to an easy listening station, KBNY 97 FM and became the first female morning drive person in the market. We were hot. So we decided to reproduce. Girl was born in December of 1984. We lived in an apartment in Boise, then with my parents' help, bought a mobile home in a trailer park in Eagle, ID, a suburb. We thought we were so hot that we decided to move to Seattle.
We realized that the mobile home had wheels and moved it in the Fall of 1985 to Auburn, Washington. I got a job at KRPM 106 FM in downtown Tacoma, working the all-night shift. LS landed some part-time work at KLSY FM Seattle. She would fill in for the now famous, Delilah Renee, before Delilah went national. Boy was born in February 1987.
Around 1985 or 86 LS started to go back to church. She attended a Presbyterian church in Auburn, White River Presbyterian. The minister, Rev. Francis Horner, had been her pastor in Bozeman, MT when she was in high school. She wanted me to attend but I resisted. One day, as we were driving around on a Sunday afternoon, I asked her what the minister said during his sermon. She said, "He told us it is time to stop living for ourselves and to start living for God." Still to this day, I don't know if she made that up or not. It hit home for me. I realized that all of my righteous indignation against the church and God was a cover for not seeking a higher way.
Before I even attended a worship service, I went with her the very next week to a New Members' class. We introduced ourselves to the other folks and Francis asked us if God called us to give everything up and follow, would we. Both LS and I said, "Yes, absolutely." I joined that church and soon after felt a calling to the ministry. I particularly appreciated the openness to the sciences and the humanities and oddly enough, it was the prayer of confession, printed in the bulletin each week, that won me over. Confession of sin was not something you do once, but is a part of life. We do so knowing that we are pardoned and forgiven even before we ask. For me, it was the necessity of being honest with ourselves about who we are.
Francis was awesome. He saw something in me and became my mentor. I had no idea what it was to be a Presbyterian let alone a minister and he guided me through the whole process. I went back to college, the University of Washington, and worked toward a degree in English with a creative writing emphasis graduating in the Spring of 1989.
I worked at the radio station while attending school for awhile during that time, but eventually was let go when new management came in. White River Presbyterian hired me as parish visitor. For my final year of college I worked for the church visiting new people under the evangelism committee.
Francis took me everywhere and tried to teach me everything he knew. He is still active in Seattle Presbytery. I owe so much to this man who embodied and still embodies for me deep faith and love. The congregation was incredibly supportive of LS and I and our two tykes. They were baptized just before we left for seminary in Princeton, New Jersey. To which I turn next time...