An irate listener once punched me in the mouth. Please remember, radio schools would graduate “golden throats,” not “golden gloves.” When a listener wants something, usually it’s an autograph; very few want blood. Radio industry magazines never advertise: “Wanted: Jocks who Box!” A radio career is a soft, passive profession. An announcer comes to work, plays some records, and goes home. Apparently on some days, he limps home.
Jay Michael Stevens preceded me on the air. On this fateful day, he ended his show by saying, “Radio Rick is next at ten. Poor Rick, he’s so dumb he thinks Sitting Bull is a talk show.”
Thanks, Jay. An American Indian just got insulted.
During business hours, a radio station is sometimes without adult supervision. This happens when the sales staff and management are out of the office. When the disc jockeys are left in charge, our station becomes The K-5 Day Care Center. This was the case when, one hour later, in walks a large man wearing a flat-brimmed cowboy hat, and carrying a trumpet under his arm. (Soon I would wonder if he had planned to use the trumpet to play “Taps” up an orifice of his least-favorite radio personality.)
This man had the features of an American Indian. He had the Mexican surname, Fernandez. He told the receptionist he would like to see Radio Rick, and then waited an incredible two hours for me to finish my show.
I came out to see him and he seemed pleasant enough. Shifting the trumpet to under his left arm, he introduced himself and shook my hand politely. It was then he said, ”I want you to know that Sitting Bull is every bit as good a man as President Ford.” With that he popped me on the chin!!
One thing about my fights, they never last long. I’m one of those two-hit guys; you hit me and I hit the ground. As I received this solitary blow, I took a step back, and my one quickly thought-up counter offensive was to kick this large man “where the sun don’t shine no more.” This idea might have evened up the odds, but my assailant was content to stop at one punch. He hadn’t hurt me but he had my attention.
He also got the attention of a witness, Jay Michael Stevens. Jay was watching through the window to the Production Room studio. Jay decided that blood-letting is best viewed from a position of safety. In one motion, he turned and locked the studio room door. He was ready to watch Round Two.
Round Two never happened. After taking one on the chin, I figured this listener-turned-sparring partner would wail on me until his arms got tired. Instead, he removed three quarters from his pocket, placed them in his palm, and said, “Now that we’ve made peace….”
“I don’t want to hear anything you have to say! Get out of here!” I interrupted. (Under pressure, I’m seldom clever.) Was it the force of my plea? I’ll never know, but he abruptly turned and walked out the front door. To this day, I have no idea why he carried that trumpet, or why he offered the three quarters.
I also didn’t know what Jay had said, so I had no idea why he hit me! “Fernandez the Ferocious” left the station in a battered, old yellow Ford with Arizona license plates. The receptionist, Penny Sharrock, another witness, quickly chimed in she would call the police if he returned. At long last someone was thinking!
The coast was clear, so my disc jockey friend unlocked the studio door, told me what he had said, and admitted that since the Sitting Bull punch line was his, the punch too, should have been his.
The confession, though good for Jay’s soul, came a bit late. The man who talks with fists had departed. The saga of Sitting Bull’s revenge had come to an end. But, a right cross, once delivered, may yet be transferable. To this day, Jay knows he owes me one.