I graduated from Spring Hill College. It’s a small liberal arts college in Mobile, Alabama and the 3rd oldest Jesuit school in the country. At the time, its total enrollment was less than 1,000 students. As you might expect, there were advantages and disadvantages to attending a small school. Obviously, we didn’t have a football team to cheer for on Saturday afternoons (or any “major” sports teams for that matter), nor did we have the facilities required to “host” nationally or internationally recognized guest speakers, rock bands or entertainers. What we did have, however, was a beautiful campus, a high quality faculty that was readily accessible to students at all times (even to the point of hosting social outings for them at their homes), a close knit community (okay, maybe at times we were a little too close knit!) and a wide variety of campus-based activities “begging” for students to step outside their comfort zones and get involved. One of those activities was an on campus radio station.
I likely was one of the most introverted students on the entire campus. But, in my senior year, my closest friend (ironically, perhaps the most outgoing, most well-liked and most well-connected member of our class) convinced me to join him in hosting a Friday afternoon radio show. That’s right, from 3 to 7 p.m. every Friday in Fall of 1979 and the Spring of 1980, this guy was (let’s admit it) the better half of “The Don and Jack Show” on the Hill’s radio station. Much to the chagrin of our 3 listeners, Jack and I decided that our format would be “middle of the road album rock” – you know, the Eagles, CSN&Y, James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, Karla Bonoff – to name a few (and date myself in the process). While we appreciated the fact that it probably wasn’t exactly the kind of music a student body that at the time was ranked 3rd on Playboy’s survey of colleges with the greatest per capita consumption of beer in the country wanted to listen to on a Friday afternoon, it was what we wanted to listen to and we had complete autonomy on the issue!
I have to tell you, looking back, those Friday afternoons spent in that too cramped studio with Jack, fumbling our way through a control board that sometimes worked, but many times didn’t (and which we barely understood), fielding calls from adoring and not so adoring fans (including a “groupie” who somehow managed to pick up our signal in Pensacola and religiously called in every Friday afternoon to praise our work, before pleading for us to play some Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, etc.) were some of my fondest memories from college. It wasn’t just the fact that I was doing something that I never would have imagined myself doing in a million years. It wasn’t that I had at-my-fingertips access to an unlimited inventory of music that I never could have afforded. It wasn’t the freedom that came from knowing that, within limits, we had complete “control over the airwaves at our designated spot on the dial.” Mostly, it was knowing that at the end of every week, I would be spending 3 hours enjoying the company of someone who would go on to become a lifelong friend, someone who understood me, who wanted me to be happy.
So, today, I thought I would pay tribute to my friend by playing the song we used to “welcome” our listeners to the “Don and Jack” show every Friday afternoon – The Eagles’ “Sad Café.” We used it, because, as you will hear, it has a very smooth instrumental at the beginning that allowed us to do our “talk over” introductions. But mostly, we used it because it has one of the greatest sax solos (performed by David Sanborn) that you likely have never heard. Enjoy! – and thanks, Jack, for twisting my arm.