Remembering my days as a talk-show host

When applying for positions in law and education, I would list my experiences, degrees, grades, skills and at the bottom, I had a one-line past experience: radio talk show host. To a person, the first thing I would be asked about in an interview was that radio show! 

How I got my own radio show is probably something they were wondering. I’m not exactly a conventional radio personality, although I suppose I’m somewhat conventional when it comes to small-town radio, which is what my show was broadcast on, not a major network. I have the kind of odd and uninteresting voice with a Pittsburgh accent that works out all right in life but would not work out on national radio.

When you live in a small town, interesting jobs are difficult to find. I finished college at the ripe old age of 36 and was looking for part-time work. I taught speech communication at the university as a graduate student and did part-time substitute teaching. I should say I was "almost" finished with college at that time; I didn’t know I’d go to law school at the age of 51, but that’s another story.

In our little town of Princeton, Illinois, we had one radio station, WZOE, that covered news for all of Bureau County. I dropped in one day asking to help out with the news and was hired. Shortly thereafter I was offered the morning talk-show host job! What I knew about hosting a radio show was exactly nothing. I was curious and much into knowledge of trivia so I assumed it would work out – and it did. 

For 12 years I hosted Coffee Time, a 45-minute talk show. I was sure I could tap my relatives and friends and a few famous strangers talking about food, talking about the role food plays in life, politics and the role that plays in our life, and various sundry subjects like antiques, self-help programs, new products, county fairs, books and other things that the person behind them was dying to talk about to anyone that would listen.

I loved that job. I never ran out of topics and to this day, 30 years later, my friends and family refer to me as "The Voice of Bureau County."

Eileen Vernon

Trustee of The Bay Village Foundation. Retired lawyer. Resident of Bay Village for over 32 years.

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Volume 8, Issue 10, Posted 9:46 AM, 05.17.2016