“Wow! I was hanging with the stars.”
Those were the words of a young Doug Birkmaier, who had just taken the train from his home in Prince Albert to the big city, at least in his eyes, of Saskatoon, where he went to the old Empire Hotel in the downtown area and met up with some people at CKOM Radio.
He was enthralled.
As Birkmaier told us, “I talked with Digger Dave Palmer of CKOM. He eventually ended up working at CKLG and CFUN in Vancouver. Dave’s dad worked at CKBI back in Prince Albert.”
His case of radio fever now fully inflamed, Birk (as we’ll call him from now on) returned to Prince Albert eager to get on full time with CKBI.
That was, however, not to be the case.
“I eventually quit high school,” he said, “and CKBI would not give me a regular job so I ran away from home and went to apply for work at CFSL in Weyburn.” (see map)
Birk said things went well at first but then the question of a starting salary came up.
In his words, “They tried to pay me $160 a month but I thought of myself as a big shot with experience and I headed for the door. The owner called me back and offered me $200.”
Bluntly, said Birk, this experience taught him a bitter lesson. “I took from this the fact that, in my opinion, most small radio stations were run by egomaniacal assholes.”
On a lighter note, Birk told us that at this time he was calling himself Douglas B on the air, but eventually switched over to using his full name. “In retrospect I probably should have prefaced it with ‘The Amazing…’”
After three months in Weyburn Birk zoomed off to the “big city of Regina and CJME, “ he said, where he lasted for less than three months. “Sorry, Sonny,” they told him,” back to the little leagues.”
Next up, a job in Melfort, and Birk’s big break.
(To be continued.)