My teenage years were fraught with stress and tension at home.
No matter what I did, or how hard I tried, it seemed I was doomed to failure.
Going to school was an escape for me, and something I looked forward to. My grades were high, and I had pals to share my laughter and tears. I dreaded long summer vacations when I was separated from my friends and teachers.
However, there was one constant in my life that gave me happiness -- it was listening to my radio.
My favorite station was out of Tulsa, Oklahoma. It played rock music, and I spent hours listening to Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles and Bad Company. The first thing I would do when I woke in the mornings was to plug in the radio beside my bed, and turn the volume down low so the rest of my family wouldn't be disturbed. I loved that first contact with the world in the morning, listening to the news and songs.
More important than the music, though, was the disc jockey. His name was Mike McCarthy. I tuned to his station every morning while I was getting ready for school. Because of his fast talking, bright quirky attitude and joking ways, he soon became known as "Morning-Mouth" McCarthy.
I wasn't the only Morning-Mouth fan in my small hometown. Most of my high school friends listened to him also. He never acquired the coast-to-coast fame that Wolfman Jack did, but he had a loyal following in our area. Mike seemed to march to the beat of a different drummer, and we all tried to follow his lead.
We started referring to our cafeteria milk as moo-juice because that's what Morning-Mouth called it. When Elton John's famous song Crocodile Rock came on the radio, we imitated the way Mike sang his favorite part. Slightly off-key but with gusto, he sang, "La... la-la-la-la-la!"
Mike and his sidekick, Stan, often promoted contests for the radio station. I entered one such contest called The Great Duck-Duck-Goose Application Extravaganza. I'm happy to say that I won a coveted spot on the imaginary team. I earned the position of switch-gooser.
One of the most popular things Mike did on the radio was known as the McCarthy Meter. Callers had a certain time in which to phone the radio station each morning and tell a funny, clean joke. The best joke of the day was taped, and played on the air. The joke was rated on how funny it was.
The McCarthy Meter was aired every morning after eight o'clock. Most of the kids in my school district rode a bus to school, so much to their disappointment they missed hearing the joke of the day. However, I lived near the high school and every morning I would sit on the edge of my bed, school books in hand, and listen for the joke to be told. Then I was off to school as fast as I could walk.
As soon as I came though the front doors, my classmates would start calling, "Hey, Pam, did you hear the McCarthy Meter this morning? What was it?"
I was, if only for a minute or two, the most popular and sought-after person before the first bell rang.
Although I never met Morning-Mouth McCarthy in person, he still had a great influence on my teenage years. He showed us that a person didn't have to follow the crowd to be popular. Good, clean humor was fun. And it felt great to sing at the top of your voice if a good song came on the air.
Many years have passed since those high school days. I moved away, married and started a family. I began to appreciate other types of music. I lost track of my old high school friends.
Then recently, a new radio station was formed. It plays mostly what is called Soft Oldies from the 70's. When did this happen? Since when are my teenage favorites called "Oldies" on the radio? The music was nice, however, so I began to listen again to those tunes from the past.
One morning on my drive to work, I turned to the Soft Oldies station. I was amazed at the voice I heard. It was Michael McCarthy!
I was so happy to hear that laugh once again, I was instantly hooked as a listener.
He's no longer known by his old moniker. He's now referred to as Mike in the Morning. He has a new partner, and the McCarthy Meter is gone. The radio contests are more designed for entertaining adults than a younger generation. I've grown up, also, beyond the need of having a good daily joke to impress friends. I rarely enter contests now, and I haven't said moo-juice in years.
It doesn't really matter, though.
One thing will never change. Mike will always be "Morning-Mouth" McCarthy to me.
Excuse me a moment. My favorite song just came on the radio.
-- Pamela Jenkins