OBSERVATIONS AND RAMBLINGS FROM A CRANKY OLD GUY By: Jeff Spaulding
Written by Staff on November 9, 2021
This is a completely true story.
I call it a tale of redemption.
It is not meant to teach, preach or reach.
It is simply a story of a long-time friend of mine.
It began in 1974.
I’m a freshman in college in Ohio studying Broadcasting.
Among my new friends is a skinny, wise-ass punk from Jersey named Gary.
Gary was perfect for being in radio, he had what we called a “ten-pound nut” voice.
Gary was also a major music fan, with a wide variety of interests.
Gary introduced me to Springsteen.
(And this was before he was BRUCE!)
Gary introduced me to The Ramones.
Gary introduced me to Punk.
Gary, however, was not the first to introduce me to drugs, but he was a close second to my friends, the Damn Theater People.
College was my first experiment, by and large pot, although one night at a theater dorm party, we all did a bong laced with angel dust.
That night when I went to my room, I remember my black and white television became color and in 3-D, I also got major chills and became super paranoid.
To my knowledge, that was my only taste of something “harder.”
Back to Gary.
Gary was among the first of us to actually get a paying job in radio, the local AM/FM combo in town.
In 1977, Gary told me of a part time opening there, and with his help, I actually got myself a paying job in radio.
That summer, we roomed together in an apartment complex.
And hello drugs.
For me it was mostly harmless, just bongs (angel dust free), but a LOT of them.
On occasion our school chum Ernie stopped by with some REALLY good hash, and not the corned beef variety either.
I think it was 1978 or 1979 when Gary moved to another radio station in the area.
In 1980, there was an opening at THAT station, and with Gary’s help, I’m now at radio station number two.
I don’t know for sure, but sometime between then and 1982, Gary got a big job in a major market in Ohio.
We kept in touch on occasion, but like everything else we went our separate ways.
Gary was red hot in some big Buckeye radio towns, and in time I made it back home to the Capital District.
Through the college grapevine, I knew of his success, but I knew there was a major monkey on his back that was slowly killing him.
Flashback to those first radio station days.
Every day on his way to work, Gary got a coffee from McDonald’s, this is when their stirry things were little, tiny spoons.
Gary used the stirry thing for coffee, then found another use for the little, tiny spoon.
Somewhere in the last 20 odd years, I reconnected to Gary through social media.
Recently, I asked him some questions, in anticipation of writing this, like (1) How long have you been clean, (2) How bad did it get (3) What was your drug of choice (4) What made you stop and (5) Why did you change careers.
The following is in Gary’s exact words.
“I’ve been clean and sober for 34 years.
Still go to a few AA meetings a week.
I bottomed out pretty bad.
Caught forging prescriptions for narcotics.
The felony was reduced to a misdemeanor because I completed a treatment program and aftercare.
I had no idea that I would wind up counseling.
I got out of radio after being sober for a year and took a job as an activity advisor for a rehab program.
One thing led to another, and I wound up back in college to get my master’s degree. Except for the first few months I haven’t had a desire to drink or use.
I give all the credit to God and the AA program.
It also helps that I’ve been married for 24 years with a wonderful family.”
Recently, Gary partially retired and is now living the life he probably has always wanted to live.
Again, there is no finger pointing to this story.
But as I write this, I can think of a few people in my inner circle who should use him as an example.
Out of all the people responsible for my broadcasting career, without Gary’s help in the early years, I would have made a hell of a Walmart greeter.
Thank you so much my friend.
Be hearing you.