#tbt to 1998. I was working for America West Airlines with a bunch of aviation students and caught the flight bug myself. I had no interest in fixed-wing aircraft, but I did always have an interest in rotary-wing (helicopters, essentially). I called around and was able to find a guy out at Bolton Field who provided both classroom and flight lessons. So I went for it. At $392/hour. (Ouch.)

The fellow’s name was Jerry Eckstein. I didn’t get to know him real well, but he was a nice guy — clearly a wealthy guy who dabbled in wealthy guy hobbies, like race cars, high-end motorcycles and helicopters. Providing helicopter lessons, I came to find out, was one of the few ways to actually be able to finance the very expensive hobby of owning, flying, storing, and maintaining a helicopter.

I actually trained in two of his helicopters: the Robinson R22 I snapped a picture of below, and an older Hughes 300C that the R22 replaced. I much preferred the 300C — fully-glass cockpit and joystick-style cyclic. The R22 uses this strange type of crossbar cyclic that I thought was just weird.

I ended up doing about 20 flight hours before the expense caught up with me. (I also had a lot of discouragement from people who claimed that only military-trained helicopter pilots could ever hope to find actual employment. Probably true.) Those 20 hours were too awesome. Jerry was supportive, complimented my (terrible) landings, and almost made me puke demonstrating an autorotation. Great once-in-a-lifetime memories, if nothing else.

I tried to track down Jerry, but it seems he passed away about six years ago. Thanks for the great ride, my friend!

Commercial throwback to the early 2000s. I was working at WWHO at the time and couldn’t believe this when I saw it. I thought it was hilarious, but apparently not everyone agreed. It got pulled quickly. #tbt

#tbt to that time Donnie Iris suddenly called me on the request line at Star 107.9. I was playing “Love Is Like A Rock” (one of my favorite songs, actually) and the phone rang. “Hey, this is Donnie Iris. I just wanted to thank you for playing my song!” I assumed he was someone pranking me and I quickly got off the phone. “No problem. Bye!”

My boss, Jason, told me later that Donnie lived in Pittsburgh and had a show in Dayton that night, so it most likely was him as he was on his way through Columbus.

D’oh.

#tbt to the January 10th, 1997 issue of Radio & Records Magazine. It was the only time I ever got a mention in “the trades” (as they call these magazines in the radio business). We had just shut down the first station I ever worked for — 98.9 “Wild Country” — and flipped our sister station, 105.7, from classic rock to country. As a result, I was offered my first full-time job: the night show on “Kicks Country 105-7”. (They had me use the name “Stringbean Bradshaw” on the air — a nod to the skinny Hee Haw and Grand Ole Opry performer who was murdered back in the ’70s. For reasons I was never told, they referred to me as “Mike Bradshaw” in the article, even though I never used the name on the air.)

As a country station, 105.7 was a disaster. The signal was awful, yet we still tried to go head-to-head with WCOL. We were told at the beginning not to expect much more than a 1.5 share (and not be disappointed by it). After six months or so of dismal ratings and the morning guy being moved to overnights, I sensed bad things afoot and asked to go back to part-time. Shortly thereafter, the full-time staff was let go and I moved over to K95. That lasted for a month or two until I’d had enough of corporate radio and left to explore Los Angeles for a while. More on that later.

#tbt to AmeriFlora, which kicked off on this day 25 years ago. It was a big deal at the time, and, even though I was 15 and not at all into flowers, I remember it very well. You can still find flags and posters hanging here and there. Every time I go to Franklin Park, the remnants — the NavStar sculpture, the amphitheater — still remind me of it.