Over the weekend while I was browsing Facebook as allergies turned my head into a Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade Balloon, something appeared in my feed that made me reflect on something that happened in my past. It’s very rare for me to share my emotions on the magazine as of late. Sometimes life has a funny way of showing you what you need to be talking about.
I grew up in a small town, El Dorado Springs, Missouri. And do not bother looking the town up, you don’t want your GPS asking you “Why?”. Growing up in a small town, my ambitions became bigger than the town I lived in. I started doing stand-up in my late teens, but still felt a void that I needed to fill. And that void was radio. I always admired the men and women I would hear coming out of those little speakers on a daily basis. I wanted to be just like them. I wanted to make fun of things that started happening in the media as well as choose the music that would be played to a new generation. I felt the radio DJ had the power of a God growing up.
And one day, browsing Facebook, a friend of mine posted that the local radio station, KESM is looking for a weekend morning DJ. And I thought about it for a second, and I knew I wanted that spot. I reached out, got an interview, and was asked if I could read. Thank God for The Weather Channel Local forecast every 8 minutes. My time at KESM became some of the best in that small town. Sure, I became the buffer for older people selling old stuff to older people, but that might be my only gripe.
Shortly before launching The Saturday Night Takeover with the former morning guy Ethan, I started to help more around the station. And this may have been on of the best things to happen to me as an individual. One of the best jobs I had there during my time was helping the station owner, Don Kohn, get his office into a cleaner state. Still a mess, but a slightly more organized mess. Each one of those days, I would get to hear Don tell story after story. I am not sure how his love of WC Fields rubbed off on me at the time, but it did. I even went as far to make sure I got a photo of his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame during a trip to LA.
Don also gave me my passion for vinyl. I grew up in the era of the compact disc. Limewire just started giving computers the digital herpes. The music I wanted would be easy to find. At the time to me records were just something that collected dust or looked good on the wall at a retro diner. But Don started to change my mind. He even went as far as giving me some of the records KESM received during the early years of his ownership. And I still have those and cherish those to this very day. My vinyl collection is kind of crazy, and I owe that to Don. And to add, vinyl made a comeback. So, finding the music I love on Vinyl today is sort of surreal to me.
I will never forget Don calling during the first episode of the Saturday Night Takeover telling Ethan and I that he was laughing while driving. That moment is still special to me to this very day. The very first ever company Christmas party I ever went to, Ethan and I recorded the KESM Twas the Night Before Christmas, and seeing everyone there laugh, including Don, is a memory that a person will hold on to.
And while my time at KESM ended not in the way one would hope, I cherish my time there. The people were fantastic, but the thing I cherish most was my time with Don.
While scrolling in my feed this past weekend, I learned that Don passed away. And in that moment, I got to reflect on everything that happened at KESM.
So, while I live hundreds of miles away, I wanted to say thank you. If it was not for Don Kohn and Jena giving me a chance at that small-town radio station, the podcasts you hear on our network would not be happening. TBK Live was born in that small station over a decade ago. While it may have a different name, the knowledge and wisdom Don passed down to me will live on in each show we present.
The world lost an amazing individual.
Rest In AM/FM Power Don.
PS. Every time I see a soldering iron, I tense up. I burned myself so much helping Don.