Book Excerpt – Morning Drive to Midnight

Morning Drive to Midnight
by Renee Prewitt Killingsworth

    Publication Date: May 10, 1999
    List Price: $12.50
    Format: Mass Market Paperback, 288 pages
    Classification: Nonfiction
    ISBN13: 9781882792801
    Imprint: First Page Publications
    Publisher: First Page Publications
    Parent Company: First Page Publications

    Read a Description of Morning Drive to Midnight

    Copyright © 1999 First Page Publications/Renee Prewitt Killingsworth No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission from the publisher or author. The format of this excerpt has been modified for presentation here.

    After working together awhile, Adrienne and Selena developed a bond that transcended simple friendship. Adrienne used to say they clicked out of desperation, but whatever it was, they grew to rely on one another for courage and support in a business that was so obviously male dominated. It was an industry that told women, we’ll let you in, but you have to stay over there. Neither one fit that bill, which is why they’d lasted so long.

    Even when Selena was on the air with Adrienne, she harbored a desire to get back to the news side. So, when Adrienne left Rockford to work in the big city of Chicago and Selena was later fired for insubordination, she sought out news reporting jobs. But everywhere she went she was engaged in a battle for respect. News and public affairs programs were the stepchildren of the airwaves, a regulated necessity that interrupted a major groove. Selena knew that Adrienne wasn’t a fan of the news either. She had reduced the number, as well as the size of the newscasts at just about every station she ran. Selena wondered what she had in store for her.

    "So, what’s this big meeting about tomorrow? Are you going to fire everybody, or what?"

    "Would you please lighten up? We haven’t seen each other in five years," Adrienne told her. "We have a lot of catching up to do."

    Selena looked down at her hands. "Are we still friends? Because I have to tell you, I’m real nervous about the future of the news department."

    "Oh, come on, Selena. I’m not going to do anything drastic. I have big plans for you, but I won’t tell you until the meeting tomorrow because I…"

    "No, just tell me because the rumors are giving me an ulcer."

    Adrienne shook her head. "I can’t tell you because it will get out and people will think I’m playing favorites."

    "What’s said between us, stays between us," Selena said.

    "Yeah, right," Adrienne chuckled, but she knew her announcement would be old news by tomorrow anyway. "If I tell you, you can’t quit on the spot or run to the papers, or anything like that. Understand?"

    "Sure." She was anxious to learn her fate. "Let’s get this over with."

    "Tomorrow morning I’m announcing two changes. The first involves the FM station. We’re going totally oldies, playing a tight list of hits from the fifties, sixties, seventies and eighties. We’re going to take a drive down memory lane in a ’55 Chevy convertible, make a right turn, and head straight up to number one by appealing to a bunch of folks who associate a song to a simpler time and place.

    "The second thing I’m announcing is that I’m changing the AM station to twenty-four hours of news and talk and I want you, Selena, to do whatever it takes to make it the CNN of radio."

    Selena looked up to the ceiling and whispered, "Thank you, Lord." Then she remembered something.

    "What about Randy and Michael and Sinese and Angelo and Micky D?" She was referring to the AM on-air personality line up.

    "Don’t worry about them." Adrienne figured she would have heard about their fate by now. Or was Selena just trying to act concerned? "Can I take that gleam in your eyes as a yes?"

    Selena looked at the basket of pastries in the middle of the table. She broke off a piece of donut and popped it into her mouth. "Well, yes, I want to do it. You know I want to but I feel like it’s coming at the expense of some people who’ve been like family. I mean, Micky D has been doing the seven-to-midnight show for five years, and Angelo and his wife just bought a house."

    "Look, this isn’t about slash and burn. Believe me, I’ve had enough of that. We really had to make this dramatic change. The writing’s been on the wall for the AM side for a long time." Adrienne massaged her temples. "I have one year to prove the station’s viability or it’s going to the land of simulcasting and I had to fight like hell to get that much time. Actually, I think we can move the AM up to number five in the market by then."

    "In a year?"

    "Oh yes, my sister. Look at what’s happening out there. We’re gearing up for a mayoral race in which a black man is running for mayor against the party’s machine candidate," Adrienne said, tapping the table to emphasize her point. "Science is helping sixty-year-old women conceive, and a couple of hours on the Internet is the new dating scene. People want to talk about that stuff."

    "You don’t have to tell me," Selena agreed. "We have to cut people off during our thirty-minute call-ins every Sunday morning."

    "Exactly, and then there’s everything else that people are passionate about. Crime, employment, welfare, drugs. In fact, I’d like to see a couple of shows on the air like Ricky Lake or Geraldo."

    "Well, that kind of takes a detour from news and public affairs, doesn’t it?"

    "Selena, do you remember when we started out together and we used to say that if we ever got in a position to call the shots, we’d make sure that our job and everyone else’s was one big party?"

    "You said that. I said I’d pay everybody as much as they wanted. Remember the ten dollar raises and the time we marched into Mr. Laven’s office to protest a ‘devaluation of our worth’ with Elijah, Buster Brown and Scoop Jackson? And then you said that you were there to represent all of the on-air personalities and that you wanted to renegotiate that mere pittance of change Mr. Laven called a raise?"

    Adrienne laughed. "Speaking of raises, how does another $10,000 a year sound?"

    "You’ve just quadrupled the number of hours I have to put in. Why not double my pay?"

    "Can’t do it," Adrienne said.

    Oh yes you can, Selena thought, but you’re in Laven’s shoes now. "I’ll be running my own show right?"

    "As long as you understand what I’m after."

    "You want the AM side to be number five in a year."

    "Yes, that’s right. I’ll get the FM side to number one but there’s got to be movement for both stations in the first ratings book, in all day parts. From morning drive to midnight."

    "I understand."

    "If you really understand, then this baby is all yours."

    "Sounds great." Selena watched Adrienne sign the check for her breakfast. She was thoughtful for a moment and then she said, "Adrienne, I must tell you something before I go. For some reason, certain people have gotten it into their heads that you’re a control freak. So, there’s a cartoon circulating around the station of this robot with lots of knobs and blinking lights that marches around in long black boots. The caption reads, ‘Adrienne says…my way or the highway.’ So," Selena said, "be prepared for a little resistance tomorrow."

    Adrienne’s stomach did a flop-flop. But she shrugged it off. "It won’t be the first time."

    Selena jumped to her feet. "I’ve got to go. I’ll be in the newsroom all morning and then I think I’m going to visit my shrink and ask her if she thinks I’m crazy for accepting this job."

    "Well, if you’re crazy, that makes two of us."

    Selena was already on her way out of the restaurant so she didn’t hear Adrienne remark, "And there’s nothing like being in good company."

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