This isn’t really a radio story, per se, but it happened during my stint in St. Joseph. On the night of November 26, 1988, my beloved ’87 Thunderbird and I had a rather unfortunate encounter with a deer on a dark highway outside of Joetown. This was the very same night my radar detector was stolen—see Great Moments In Radio, Vol. III—it was most definitely NOT my night! Luckily for me, the deer had the courtesy to fly up OVER the car after I hit him instead of coming straight through the windshield, or you most likely wouldn’t be reading this story. Anyway, when I put The Bird in the body shop, I needed some wheels to get to work. It was early December, so walking to work (at night) was not really an option, even though I only lived a couple miles from the radio station, so our manager offered me the use of the mighty KKJO News Car—a 1979 Chevy Chevette (or the Pontiac version of the same car, whatever they called it--I forget) that they no longer used for chasing news.
Let me tell you, my friends, I have driven in downtown Boston at the heart of evening rush hour, I have driven through the ghettos of Chicago, Detroit and St. Louis (sometimes even at night), I have driven up the side of Pike’s Peak and I have driven on ice and snow many a time, but I have NEVER been more terrified while at the wheel of a moving vehicle than the week I spent driving that piece of shit! There were two major challenges in operating that vehicle: 1) getting it to go, and 2) getting it to stop. The damn thing had trouble starting, and once you did get it running, it died about as often as Kenny on "South Park", and stopping the car was a whole other matter. I felt like Yosemite Sam every time I approached a red light: "Whoa, Camel! Whoa, Camel! Whooooooa, Camel!!!" I came real close to actually getting out of the car once and screaming at it, "When I say ‘whoa’, I MEEEEANNNN WHOA!!!" Come to think of it, the damn camel might’ve gotten me to work quicker—top speed in that car was about 30 MPH. My parking spot at my apartment was on a slope, and I had to place a brick under the back wheel of the car to prevent it from rolling down the street. Among its other problems, the heater didn’t work on those chilly nights (naturally), it reeked of gasoline all the time, and the windshield wipers were possessed by Satan.
I was never more happy to see my own car again than the day I picked up The Bird from the body shop. I never found out whatever happened to the KKJO News Car after I left Joetown. They might’ve had one of those take-a-sledge-hammer-to-it for charity things at the station, or maybe they pushed it off a cliff or something—pushing it was certainly safer than driving it!