In January, 1979, we were studying like crazy. Every spare minute I had, I was studying for the FCC test. Imagine our shock and chagrin when out of nowhere, the FCC decided that licenses would not be required for on air talent, a permit card would suffice, and they were discontinuing the test. We laughed about the cruel irony of spending months studying, but I have to tell you I was pretty damn relieved because I there ain't no way I was ever gonna pass Element 9.
The school talked about shutting us down. We panicked. Some of the guys wanted to have us take over the station...you know, all of us just barricade the doors and take over, like in the movie "FM", which was based on something that WBCN jock Charles Laquidara actually did at 'BCN. But instead we decided that if we all pulled together and really organized the station, cleaned the place top to bottom, we could prove to the administration that our station was worth saving. One day during April vacation in 1980, we all met up at the school with the permission of the principal of course, and parceled out tasks to everyone. We were off the air, but we spun tunes anyway and just cleaned and cleaned, organized the records, put all the logs in chronological order, washed the windows and dusted. One of the guys who had his license went out and got us tons of pizza. It was a really fun day.
This was 1980 and no one talked about stuff like that. I told Liz and Holly, but none of us knew what to do. It never occurred to me to tell my parents and even if I did, they wouldn't have done anything about it anyway. I didn't want to quit radio. So I just decided I'd have to keep my distance and make sure I was never, ever alone with him. He and I did not have a good relationship from that day forward. His relationship with Holly deteriorated completely one day when they got into a huge fight over the music she was playing....I was sitting there at the table rapidly turning the pages of Billboard with my heart pounding, wondering if Holly was going to get expelled for talking to a teacher like that. Fortunately she didn't. Holly moved to Oregon in 1981 and I did her last show with her and boy did we have fun. One time during February vacation in 1980, she and I did a marathon 12 - 8 show, alternating running the board. We ended up playing really long songs like "Alice's Restaurant" if we needed a break. Long songs were good for bathroom breaks as well.
Meanwhile, Liz and I were playing more and more of our own music by this point. We were into new wave and punk, and we were actually getting a following of regular listeners from all over the Cape and as far as Plymouth. They'd call up with requests and dedications. My time slot at WSDH was Mondays from 2:15 to about 4:00 or 4:30. Then Liz had her own show after school during the week, and then she and I did a show together Fridays from 2:15-7:00. Mr. Malcolm was a stickler for playing the popular top 40 songs and wanted to see our playlists. Additionally, at 5:00, the station switched to a "soft rock" format. But I got around it. What I'd do is play all the top 40 songs from 2:15-3:00 because that's when the kids were all still on the school buses getting home. So when they got home after 3 and called in to hear Loverboy or some other lame crap, I'd say, "I'm sorry but I played that at 2:25". If Mr. Malcolm bitched, I'd show him the playlist and say, "I played them all already." So he had no choice but to back off. I'd start playing punk at 3. Then when the station would go to soft rock at 5 pm, Liz & I would play all the slow new wave songs like "That's Entertainment" by the Jam.
One time Liz and I were hanging out in our fave record store in Hyannis, Wave Records which sold punk and new wave imports, and we were laughing about something. One of the people browsing in the store, who we didn't know, looked up and said, "Hey! I know those laughs! Are you Liz and Joanne from WSDH?" That was so freaking weird.
Mr. Malcolm, Liz & I had our final falling out during the summer of '82, after she and I graduated but were still doing a punk show on Monday afternoons. He started in on us and we told him to fuck off. We packed up our records and walked out. Left dead air. Left him in the lurch for Monday afternoons too. Incidentally, while I was at St. Joe's my mom told me about the huge scandal at Sandwich High, how Mr. Malcolm touched a girl inappropriately and she told on him and he was fired. I said, "I'm not surprised. He kissed me." My parents were, of course, horrified.
I switched my major to TV Production and transferred to Emerson College, but I still dabbled in radio. I had a show on WECB, Emerson's little AM station, in my junior year, sharing air time with my bud Charlene. We had a good time doing the show, but no one listened. Emerson has an FM station, WERS, that is critically acclaimed & well known around Boston, and the kids that worked at WECB were really looked down on by the WERS kids.