Pat Lynch’s UNFAIR 1970 Labor Day firing continues to resonate

It has become traditional for me to retell the story of my firing from KWOE in Clinton, Oklahoma  every Labor Day. You see, the infamous event occurred on Labor Day 1970. Lonnie Preston, the owner, came in on a national holiday to do the dirty work. It’s a rather funny story and this year is the FORTIETH ANNIVERSARY.

Fact is, everything that happened to me in Clinton is funny and I am just about convinced that this should be my first book. Not every alumni of THE VOICE OF WESTERN OKLAHOMA has such a tender-hearted recollection. This gentleman (whose name is withheld but from whom permission to publish was granted) ran across one of my Labor Day columns. His commentary is very blunt. It is much more critical than anything I have said in public about the Prestons.

This much must be said: Lonnie and Alice Preston were both broadcast owners and performers. Both appeared regularly on KWOE and expressed personal opinions on a regular basis. They are (WERE) public persons. I cannot imagine either is still alive. So, hear the unassisted remembrance of another KWOE survivor.

Mr. Lynch:  in a random Goggle search this evening for KWOE in Clinton, I found several articles you had written about your experiences at KWOE, in particular your firing on Labor Day in 1970.

I worked at KWOE as an announcer from August-October 1973.  An idealistic, probably very naive, 24-year-old, KWOE turned out to be on the one hand the lowest point in my life at that time, but on the other hand, it led to a 37 year career at XXXXXXXX, which I truly enjoyed.  (I retired in 2008.)  I couldn’t read the entire article about your Labor Day firing, because I don’t have a log-in, but it sounded like we shared the same s.o.b. in Lonnie Preston.  Those few months were an eye-opener for me, and like you, I’ve never been able to “forgive” the Preston’s for the way they managed the station. When I finally realized I had made a big mistake, and it was time to leave, I was so angry–with myself and the Preston’s–that the night I returned to Oklahoma City (after the station left the air), I loaded up my Rambler with every album I could take, not because I liked the music–I didn’t–but to get back at Lonnie.

It took me a long time to get over it.  For almost a year, I lived in a rooming house in Norman with my dog, and walked a few blocks to work atXXXXX.  When I’d walk the dog, I’d some times scoop up the results in a plastic bag, put it in a small box, and mail it “postage due” to Lonnie, with no return address.  Then the post office would deliver postage due packages, with no return address, which I doubt they do today.  Nonetheless, it gave me some satisfaction.

I always wanted to be in radio, but after KWOE it became more of a distant dream.  I know I’m lucky the career-changing job at XXXXX worked out, and I was able to achieve job satisfaction.  I still listen to radio daily, even have my own part 15 FM station “covering a vast area of 3 city blocks!”

I was in Clinton several years ago, and drove down the road to KWOE.  As you probably know, it’s still there, belting out those Spanish hits we know and love,.  The shrubs and weeds are about to overtake the property.  Sad. The ghost of Lonnie and Alice seemed to reach out, as I sped up in my car to move away from one of those things that I’d like to forget, but never will.

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About patlynch
I am a broadcaster in Arkansas, a former freelance writer and political columnist in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Writing Coach. Speaker. Director of the Christian Foundations for Ministry program, and presently enrolled in the Anglican School of Ministry Master of Ministry program.

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