When I moved to Ashland, Oregon in my early twenties, I needed a job right away. As I perused the employment section of the local paper, an ad jumped off the page with its bold heading: Copywriter Wanted. A local radio station needed someone to write ad copy. No experience was necessary, but along with a resume they wanted a sample thirty second commercial. I’d worked in newspaper advertising, but had no idea how to write a radio spot. Still, I thought it would be a fun challenge and had nothing to lose by applying.
I was surprised when they called for an interview, but even more shocked to find that the country music station was located in the middle of a cow pasture, about three miles out of town. While I wasn’t too certain about the country music, I thought the setting was a hoot. I don’t remember much about the interview, other than I didn’t do well. Nevertheless, they like me and I was hired the following week.
What started as a fun idea turned into the most fulfilling job of my life. As the copywriter I interfaced between the sales staff that sold air time and the disc jockeys who recorded the commercials I wrote. Often there was very little turn around time between the sale and getting the commercial on the air, so I had to be creative and quick. I wrote, directed and produced thirty and sixty second commercials for a variety of clients: tires, lingerie, ski equipment, shoes, etc. What I enjoyed even more than writing the commercials was producing them. I picked out the music, sound effects and who recorded each spot; and because all the disc jockeys were male, I voiced the female parts. The job didn’t pay much, but it certainly was fun.
Working in the middle of a cow pasture had benefits too. Every spring we watched new calves romp over the field, and aside from the occasional lowing of the cows it was a quiet and peaceful setting.
I didn’t care much for country music when I started, but one of the side effects of listening to it forty hours a week is that I came to have a great appreciation for it. The lyrics, the upbeat tempos, the rich harmonies. One of the speakers that monitored the station was right above my desk, so there was no escape from the music apart from when I was in the recording studio. Some of the lyrics are still lodged in my brain thirty-five years later:
These brown eyes that adored you
They’re already red
I see a black cloud forming
Just above my head
I’m turning green with jealousy
To think of her and you
You’re not even out the door
And I’m already blue.
Circumstances took me back to California a few years later, but that job taught me never to be afraid to try something new. And though familiarity often breeds contempt, listening to country music had the opposite effect. Date night these days means Buck Owens Crystal Palace and kicking up my heels. Yee Haw!