Dave Parks - WB8ODF
Radio for me started when I was seven or eight. Every birthday and Christmas I had to have a new set of walkie-talkies, the ones with the orange button for sending morse code. The Ham bug hit me when a new family moved in three doors down and I watched the new owner erect a 40' tower and at the top of that tower sat the BIGGEST antenna I had ever seen! I was starstruck (maybe Hamstruck?)
Lucky for me he had a son my age and we became friends, so I got to go into their basement and see his father's hamshack.
Not much later, my friend and I started learning CW (Morse Code) and would talk to each other on our walkie-talkies (using both Voice and CW) until it was bedtime. At the same time, I joined the Novice Ham Radio Class at the local Red Cross.
Having passed my code and written tests, I waited for my license. It was coming up on Christmas of 1968 and my friend's father offered to sell me one of the radios he had in his shack (a Heathkit HW-16 and HG-10b VFO). My father gave me the money (under the condition that it would sit under the Christmas tree until Christmas morning) so I ran down the street and bought it.
On my 12th birthday and shortly past Christmas, my license finally came (WN8ODF) and my Elmer came to my house and helped me build a 3-band fan inverted-V wire antenna. I was off and running, making thousands of CW contacts all over the world.
I practiced CW and got my speed up to a solid 16 wpm and studied for the General test and then I was off making thousands of SSB (Single Side Band) contacts all over the world as WB8ODF.
Around 1973, I was Net Control 6 days a week on the Maritime Mobile Service Net on 14.313 after school and on weekends and fell in love with the concept of nets and I was happy for the next 6 years (until I was 18).
My second love is music and since in the state of Michigan the drinking age (1975) was 18, I was able to talk my way into becoming the DJ of the biggest/hottest disco in S.E. Michigan "The Suds Factory" (seating around 550) right out of High School.
In the summer of 1977 I enrolled in the Specs Howard School of Broadcast Arts (Southfield, Michigan) but never finished because I applied for and got a weekend overnight DJ position on KILE 1400 AM, a 5,000-Watt daytime & 500-Watt night time station on the island of Galveston in Texas, a CHR P-3 reporting station to Billboard, Radio & Records, FMQB and others.
Over the next couple of years, I held every air shift from the Weekend Overnight guy to Nights, Mid-day, Afternoon Drive and on to Mornings. In 1979, the position of Program Director became available and everyone was encouraged to apply for the job. After three interviews I was awarded the position.
Unfortunately, the job did not pay very well so I got back into my DJ-ing night clubs in Houston, TX. I worked at Cotton-Eye Joe's, Moe & Joe's, The Crystal Chandelier and Kenny Stabler's Diamondback Saloon.
This was the most fun time of my life, but also the hardest. I worked from 9PM to 2AM Monday - Saturday and then drove 75 miles south on I-45 to the radio station, slept as much as I could in my office and got up to do the Morning Show 5:30 am - 10 am.
One Friday morning, one of the radio station's record reps offered to take me to dinner. He said he might have something I'd be interested in, so of course I said... Let's eat!!!
He told me he had a lifelong friend who was the GM of a FM CHR radio station in Corpus Christi, TX and he was looking for a new Program Director right away because he had just fired the one he had. He asked me if I'd be interested in his giving him my name, again HECK YES!
The following Friday morning I received a call from a man who would soon become my mentor Chuck Dunaway, GM of KITE 105.5 (Power 105), a CHR P-2 reporting station to Billboard, Radio & Records, FMQB and others. Chuck invited me to dinner with him and his wife Kendell. We met, had dinner, chatted a while and then went out to his car to listen to my audition tape (yes we still used tape back then). Chuck offered me the job right there on the spot with only one BIG problem... He wanted me there the following Monday, I learned quickly that things move very fast in Radio.
The next few years I just coasted along loving being in radio and on a station where I picked the music and programming.
Around late 1987, Chuck Dunaway moved on and I was given the General Managers position, however I didn't really want to be GM, just Program Director and on the air. They hired a new PD, thinking I would be happy to move up, so I got to thinking I kind of miss home so I made the decision to go home and get into one or the other of two fields I knew were going to be really big very soon: Computers & cell phones.
My Third love - Computers / Programming (On-The-Air Broadcasting)
I came home to Michigan and bought a $399.00 Color Computer III (Radio Shack - called a CoCo-III) and connected up with a UNIX OS Computer Conferencing System called M-Net and started in on the computer/programming part of my life.
The FM Rock station (WIQB) in Ann Arbor, Michigan had a PD opening on the AM side (WNRS), which was OLDIES. I applied and got the Program Directors job, which I held until the station was sold. At that time, I went into Computers and Programming full time and that is where I still am today.
After a year or so of logging into the UNIX System (M-NET) and writing a lot of Shell scripts to automate things like sending and receiving emails, I decided to purchase the entire system. I offered the current owner $8,000 for the whole package (this was before the Internet was available to the public.) I'd also have to learn the UNIX OS on my own.
There were a small handful of us in the Ann Arbor, Michigan area that banded together and learned the UNIX OS and shell programming. There were very few Mom & Pop ISP's in Michigan that I didn't have some sort of a hand in helping them get up and running or give them Sys-Admin support.
And here I am today writing scripts for IRLP, enjoying my music and Ham Radio!!!