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AMJ's fascination with radio started with voice tapes and fake broadcasts growing up. Soon after high school, AMJ attended the Connecticut School of Broadcasting in North Palm Beach, Florida, to learn the ins and outs of radio and television broadcasting, as well as writing effective commercial copy. Of course, this was back before digital editing, when the techology consisted of reel-to-reel tapes, grease pencils, and razor blades.




Armed with his diploma and his FCC license, AMJ's first radio gig was as an overnight/weekend DJ for country station WDKC in Fort Pierce, Florida. Using the name "Mike James," AMJ ran the boards, spun records (and carts!), and recorded spots and PSAs, eventually traning the incoming air talent himself.

Bumped up to the 10AM-2PM slot, AMJ's responsibilities included the complicated "noon hour," which consisted of recording satellite feeds for playback later in the hour and running the live broadcast at the same time. Outfitted in new country duds, AMJ made personal appearances and did live remotes. His unconventional sensibilities when recording spots earned him an ADDY Award nomination, and that same approach livened up the morning show when "Skippy" (really AMJ effecting a little kid voice) announced the school lunch menu while making some hilarious grown-up asides.

By the time AMJ returned to the overnight slot, WDKC was running "The Fred Sanders Trucker Show" via satellite. Despite once earning a shout-out on Fred's broadcast, the show left AMJ with little to do in the overnight hours, so he filled them by recording songs in the production room. Amid persistent rumours that WDKC would either change formats or cease to exist altogether, AMJ left the station after 2 years to move back to Los Angeles. The plug was pulled on WDKC just five days later. Click on the links at the left to listen to a selection of recordings from AMJ's time at WDKC!



 

"Electric Youth"


"That Was So 20 Years Ago"

Because the Los Angeles radio market (#2 in the US) is a much tougher nut to crack. AMJ moved on from radio for a while until he became a volunteer for "IMRU", a GLBT newsmagazine that first aired on KPFK in the '70s. AMJ began by producing segments, and soon graduated to co-host and continuity writer, as the show had lacked formal scripts. AMJ was part of the show's first-ever cross-country remote when "IMRU" covered the GLAMA Awards in New York.

AMJ's segments were as diverse as the community they were about, ranging from the role of gays in the Old West to the beneficial effects of the then-emerging Internet for queer and questioning youth. The latter piece, "Electric Youth", was picked up by sister show "This Way Out", and aired in 85 countries. AMJ's "That Was So 20 Years Ago", an "IMRU" anniversary retrospective, was nominated for both Silver Reel and Golden Mike Awards.

At his height on the show, AMJ provided continuity scripts to the co-hosts, took care of music continuity (getting to play DJ again), and injected his offbeat sense of humour into the otherwise perfunctory "Community Calendar." But AMJ's crowning moment on "IMRU" came when he covered the 9th Annual GLAAD Media Awards, giving him a chance to interview Fran Drescher, Larry King, Valerie Bertinelli, and Howie Mandel. His coverage of the event won him a Golden Mike Award for Best Entertainment Reporting (alongside Thomas Callahan, left, and Christopher David Trentham, right).

Not long after, FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) included AMJ on a panel for his noteworthy contribution to radio, "IMRU"'s backstage drama compelled AMJ to wrap up his 3-year stint on the show. But although AMJ never made a penny working on it, he still considers the experience priceless. Click on the links at the left to hear a few of AMJ's "IMRU" segments!


AMJ has not had the opportunity to work in radio since then, but he's certainly continued to be on the airwaves. He was interviewed by stations in Denver, Indianapolis, and New Zealand in support of his book "Extra Extra!: Memoirs from a PIece of Human Furniture." He went in front of the microphone to promote "The Nine Lives of L.M. Montgomery" (the musical he wrote with Emmy-nominated composer Leo Marchildon), not to mention other theatrical productions he's been involved in.

AMJ occasionally airs on Soap Central Live, the companion radio show for soapcentral.com, where AMJ writes opinion columns. And given AMJ's soft spot for radio, you never know when he might don his headphones yet again.


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