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Monday, February 19, 2018

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Hall Of Fame Remembering Don Payne

I started my radio career at a little radio station about 40 miles from my hometown of Lafayette, Indiana. The station owner didnt like hiring guys from Lafayette because once he trained them, they always left for better jobs. The only reason he hired me was because he and Bob Vizza were friends, and Bob asked him to take a chance on me. I learned all the basics at that little station, but the owner always made me feel like I'd never amount to anything. He told me I might as well settle in and enjoy the gig, because nobody else would ever hire me. I put up with it for a long time because I didnt know any better.

In 1982, Don Payne was working at WXUS in Lafayette. On Sunday nights he hosted Amateur Hour where anyone off the street could come in and play disc jockey for an hour. I figured it was the only way I was ever going to get on the air in my hometown, and I wanted to be able to say I'd done it, even if it was just once. I sent my postcard to the station and a few weeks later, Don called and invited me to come in on Sunday night. I spent the rest of the week carefully choosing my music and planning my breaks. When Sunday night rolled around, I was as ready as I was ever going to be.

Don was impressed that I'd put so much thought into it. After I did my first break, Don looked at me and said "Dude, are you sure you've never done this before?" I came clean and told him my story. I was afraid he might be angry with me, but he just laughed and said "Man, the shit we do for radio, huh?"

Don told me that I was certainly good enough to work in Lafayette. He told me that he wanted to give a tape of my show to his boss, Stuart McRae, and that I should come to work at WXUS. Things didnt quite work out, but I kept trying anyway.

A few months later, Don left WXUS and went to WAZY to do the afternoon show. I called Don and asked him to put in a good word for me with the Program Director, Scott Dugan. Shortly after that, Scott invited me to come on board in December 1982. I've always felt like that was when my career in radio really began.

Don and I remained friends for the rest of his life. With the exception of Bob Vizza, nobody ever gave me as much encouragement as Don Payne. His passing leaves a void that can never be filled. Goodbye, my friend. I'll miss you and I'll never forget you.

Heres Don on WZPL Indianapolis:

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