Yes at the time of the Hendrix concert I did not realize how life in the news world was going to change soon to being an intern at one of the top CBS News operations in the country.
I was discovered in Gainesville when I was assigned to interview the News Director for WJXT in my hometown of Jacksonville, the legendary Bill Grove! He must of liked what he saw and heard because he hired me on the spot!
I gave notice and headed off to CBS and Post Newsweek which actually owned the station.
When I arrived in 1968 I had a lot to learn as an intern and they assigned me a great mentor in Jack Bookout, a long time veteran of JXT. Basically he taught me how to load the FILM cameras that we used like the Bell & Howell 35mm handheld windup model that you could use as a lethal weapon if you hit someone with it. My good buddy till this day, Allen Facemire, over at NBC actually did swing this monster around during a riot situation!
I practiced with Jack until I could load every camera we used perfectly in a blacked out room. Spending a lot of time with Jack I soon discovered he was one of the top JAZZ performers in Jacksonville. I had been a long time jazz fan having a number of jazz albums in my collection like Dave Brubeck, Sara Vaughn, Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman, etc.
Bill Grove soon learned that I might make a good Cultural Affairs reporter and that thrilled me no end! I would spend Friday and Saturday evenings at art and music events throughout Jacksonville.
We learned that The Beach Boys were coming to town and Grove pulled his magical strings and got me imbedded with them for three days as I produced a special on them. They were the nicest guys in the world and I had a ball with them.
The afternoon before the big concert in Jacksonville they came to me all concerned because they could not find Brian. They knew that I had done undercover drug related stories in the city as I guessed I told them. They asked me if I might know where Brian could be buying his drugs. Unfortunately I did not have a clue; however, Brian soon arrived and the concert went off without a hitch.
More on my America’s Music assignments in the next post!