A journey through three decades of radio when it mattered.
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From the insanity of the life of a small town disc jockey to the drama of big city newsrooms; from the explosive social events of the late 60s to a landmark First Amendment case, I Used To Be In Radio is a journey through a time when news was more than personality and opinion. It was a time of facts and issues, not food-fighting opininators. Larry Matthews was reporter and witness to riots, protests, presidents and street life. His landmark First Amendment case - in which he was supported by major journalism and media organizations - went to the highest court. He lost and went to federal prison.
"A journey like no other..." Johnny Holliday, Radio Television Broadcasters Hall of Fame
"A compelling story. Larry Matthews is one of the genuinely great journalists of our time." Jim Bohannon, host, The Jim Bohannon Show and America in the Morning.
An “On Air” light came on. “Read the first line so we can get a level in your voice,” Slim said, smiling his reassuring smile. I read the line. “Read some more,” he said, nodding to the engineer in the other room. “Okay, we got it,” he proclaimed. “When the engineer points to you, read everything on the page. He’ll record it on tape and we’ll be finished.” I had been sneaking peaks at the script, looking for words I could not pronounce, but didn’t see any, and I read it as well as I could. When I reached the bottom of the page, I stopped and looked up. No one was frowning, but no one was smiling, either. I was the last audition of the day and they were happy it was over.
“Leave your number. We’ll make our decision and call everyone to let them know. Thanks for coming.” Slim showed me to the street. I wanted the job, although I had no idea what the job was about. I went home and took a nap. The telephone rang around four o’clock in the afternoon while I was in the deep sleep only the young can enjoy, a sleep that one climbs out of rather than awakens from. The waking process takes a minute or so and I was in another zone of consciousness as Slim told me that I had the job. I did not comprehend what he was saying at first. I was still partly in a dream about Elizabeth Taylor, a dream I did not want to end at that moment. He sensed that I was not all there and asked me if I had heard him.
“Yes, that’s great,” I said, sitting up and allowing Elizabeth to slip away.
“Do you know where the station is?” he asked.
“No, I don’t. It’s here in Woodbridge isn’t it?”
“It’s at the tower. We don’t have an off site studio.”
None of it mattered to me. I had a job in radio. It was the beginning of an adventure that would last until the federal government sent me to prison.