The Inspiration For Radio Brandy Came From Here:
The ideal for Radio Brandy, came to us from a girl, who we soon learned, was trying to escape a very abusive home; located in a small oil town, west of Bakersfield, California. On her journey to a new life, she ended up in our community in the back of our radio station. Fascinated by what she saw through the window, where she stood for hours. Looking like a lost puppy, with an obviously curiosity for what we were doing in the studio, we finally decided to let her into have a look around the station, showing her how radio works.
Opening that door was about to change our lives forever, not to mention being totally unprepared what was about to come our way. While visiting the radio station, our new friend became very relaxed, and seemed at peace. After an hour of talking about radio, she completely opened up to us about her life and why she left home. We were so taken by her story, the station crew decided to let her hang out in the production room, showing her how the controls worked, and where the CD library was located. Since we had little to do, it was decided to let her work with the equipment, while we brainstormed about how we could help.
The Radio Station:
To understand what we witness, a little background on how the radio station was equipped, would be helpful. Our studios in 1992, were anything but ordinary. The production room was equipped with five cassette decks, five CD players and instead of reel to reels, four JVC S-VHS Hi-Fi VCR's were used in their place. Computers had not made their way into the studio, and the station lacked cart machines. Instead of cart machines, the spots, liners, jingles and music in high rotation, were all on short cassettes; using the leader as a cue point.
With that in mind, you know running a tight format was no easy task; having to cue spots, liners and music cassettes manually. After leaving the girl alone for about an hour in our production room, our new friend had the board, and our funky system completely mastered, much to our amazement. We were so impressed with her skills, we decided to add a little challenge, by providing the schedule for the next two hours of our shift.
Our instructions were to follow the clock, and time out the music, so it would just in time for the breaks. We also instructed her to act as if thousands of people are listening; talk to your audience, announce songs, and give the time and temp. At the top the hour without her knowledge, we quietly placed her on the air. Two hours later, we realized the girl behind the glass was truly gifted, and budding radio talent in the making!
Several problems arose quickly for us. One was how were we going to be able to help our friend; a talented homeless girl who had just turned 18, still needing to finish high school and was far from home. Second; The crew knew that our meager DJ paychecks were already being stretched thin, besides very few wife's or girlfriends would appreciate us bringing an attractive teenage girl into the home to live, so that was out! Third: We also knew, turning her out on the street could result in bad things happening to her, and the boss couldn't afford another DJ.
The Couch Pulls Double Duty:
What a dilemma we found ourselves in! Being late, it was decided to let her spend the night on the DJ couch. Over the months, we did the best we could; including helping her finish high school, provided food and clothing for her. The boss wanted to retire, and was getting ready to sale the station, so keeping her inside the station was no longer possible.
We were not about to put our friend out on the street, so we became really creative, and came up with a simple solution! Lets park a trailer in the back of the studio! It would solve two problems: The station needed to have someone overnight; just in case one of those S-VHS Hi-Fi VCR heads clogged in the middle of the night, and our new friend needed a place to stay. We presented our ideal to the boss the next morning; To our surprise, he instantly saw it as a win-win for the station too. The boss really liked the fact someone, was going to be watching over his radio station at night. Having the light and television on in the trailer, would give the impression we had guard on duty watching over the station.
Why She Escaped:
After a few months went by, we were all still curious about what our friends home life was really like. How bad could have it been? We starting by doing a little investigating on our own, beginning with paying her hometown a little visit. It was important for us to understand what led this girl into leaving home, unprepared at such a young age.
The Hometown Visit:
We were just plain shocked over what we learned from countless neighbors we spoke to; many who knew the family and our friend since her birth. Repeated over and over again, we were told her life was really a living hell. The parents were a couple of raging drug addicts; besides the drugs, dad was extremely violent, mom did a stint in prison for forgery. The Uncle, a convicted sex offender, spent allot of time in the home alone with the children, while mom was doing her time in prison. We asked if it was so bad, why didn't the neighbors intervene?
How Could This Happen?
The answer: The family was very well connected with the good old boys, who ran the town. The good old boys included law enforcement who often abused their own children and did drugs themselves. Turning to the law was not an option for our friend, or the neighbors. We were told they tried countless times to get the law involved, but were told to stay out of it by the law for their own good. The neighbors told us our friend had been trying to leave since she was 16, but the sick family kept tracking her down with the aid of so called law enforcement. Each time the cops knowingly dragged her back home for more abuse in a lifestyle of drugs, violence and sex abuse.
Getting Over The Shock:
While driving back home to the station, most of us were silent and stunned from the disturbing information we learned. We never knew anyone growing up in a home like that! When we got back to the station, we learned it was even worse than we had been told by neighbors. Turns out, our friend had been chronicling her life in great detail in a diary that she had left out at the station.
Deputies Pay A Visit:
As we arrived at the station, we were greeted in the studio by six deputy sheriffs who had stopped by the station to cut some PSA's for us. While getting ready to record the spots, one of the deputies started reading the diary. As he read the diary, his demeanor went from cheery, joking around, to a stone face. By the time he got to the second page, he passed the diary onto the deputy next to him, and started to well up. One by one, as the diary was read, you could see the emotions coming out of the deputies. We had to know what was in the diary, shaking up these deputies, the way it did?
Good Cop, Bad Cop:
We soon learned the diary contained chilling details about our friends childhood, and the mind numbing abuse she endured for years. How bad was it? These men have seen the worst of the worst, yet what they read hit them particularly hard. One of the first things one of the deputies said " the cops in that town, are well known to be very corrupt": Including drug dealing and use. Shooting unarmed handcuffed suspects in the back! Another deputy piped up; "These so-called cops are an embarrassment to honest law enforcement". You think!
An Ideal Forms:
Having the attention of six deputy sheriffs, obviously moved by what they just read, and what they knew to be true. We sought their advice on an ideal the DJ's dreamed up.
Our thinking was: What if our friend did not end up at our doorstep? Where would she have ended up? Our friend was safe, secure, and away from a nightmare. What if other girls were trying to escape a similar nightmare? The Deputies in the studio promptly interrupted us! Saying "It is sadly all too common with most ending up on the streets selling their bodies, on drugs, or dead!".
The Ideal Takes Shape:
After talking back and forth for a couple hours, we realized our ideal was worth pursuing. The Deputies, agreed it was one of the best solutions they have heard of yet, and gave us their full endorsement; wishing us well.
Our Friend, Makes New Friends:
It was then our friend walked into the studio, still fearing the law, each Deputy gave her a big loving hug, and a business card. Our friends true family just grew by six; down to earth men who truly cared about her future.
The next day at the radio station; a stream of deputies stopped by the station offering not only their moral support to our friend, but also offered a little seed money to get the project off the ground, and help our friend get her own apartment.
Forming A New Family:
Our friend confided in us; We were the only ones she knew in her life; including her father; who did not try and make a move on her. She feels like her true family is here with us.