Les Brown's DJ Dream
Les Brown and his twin brother were adopted by Mamie Brown, a kitchen worker and maid, shortly after their birth in a poverty-stricken Miami neighborhood.
Because of his hyperactivity and nonstop jabber , Les was placed in special education class for the learning disabled in grade school and throughout high school. Upon graduation, he became a city sanitation worker in Miami Beach. But he had a dream of being a disc jockey .
At night, he would take a radio to bed where he listened to the local jive -talking DJs. He created an imaginary radio station in his tiny room. A hairbrush served as his microphone as he practiced his patter , introducing records to his ghost listeners.
His mother and brother could hear him through the thin walls and would shout at him to quit flapping his jaws and go to sleep. But Les didn't listen to them. He was wrapped up in his own world, living a dream.
One day, Les boldly went to the local radio station during his lunch break from mowing grass for the city. He got into the station manager's office and told him he wanted to be a disc jockey.
The manager eyed this disheveled young man in overalls and a straw hat and inquired, "Do you have any background in broadcasting?"
Les replied, "No sir, I don't."
“Well, son, I'm afraid we don't have a job for you then.”
Les thanked him politely and left. The station manager assumed that he had seen the last of this young man. But he underestimated the depth of Les Brown's commitment to his goal. You see, Les had a higher purpose than simply wanting to be a disc jockey. He wanted to buy a nicer house for his adoptive mother, whom he loved deeply. The disc jockey job was merely a step toward his goal.
Mamie Brown had taught Les to pursue his dreams, so he felt sure that he would get a job at that radio station in spite of what the station manager had said.
And so Les returned to the station every day for a week, asking if there were any job openings. Finally the station manager gave in and took him on as an errand boy - at no pay. At first, he fetched coffee or picked up lunches and dinner for the DJs who could not leave the studio. Eventually his enthusiasm for their work won him the confidence of the disc jockeys who would send him in their Cadillacs to pick up visiting celebrities. Little did any of them know that young Les did not have a driver's license.
Les did whatever was asked of him at the station, and more. While hanging out with the DJs, he taught himself their hand movements on the control panel. He stayed in the control rooms and soaked up whatever he could until they asked him to leave. Then, back in his bedroom at night, he practiced and prepared himself for the opportunity that he knew would present itself.
One Saturday afternoon while Les was at the station, a DJ named Rock was drinking while on the air. Les was the only other person in the building. He went back and forth in front of the window in Rock's booth. Only minutes after the program was on, the phone rang. Les pounced on it. It was the station manager, as he knew it would be.
Les, this is Mr. Klein.
Yes, said Les, "I know."
Les, I don't think Rock can finish his program.
Yes sir, I know.
Would you call one of the other DJs to come in and take over?
Yes, sir. I sure will.
But when Les hung up the telephone, he said to himself, "Now, he must think I'm crazy."
Les did dial the telephone, but it wasn't to call in another DJ. He called his mother first, and then his girlfriend. "You all go out on the front porch and turn up the radio because I'm about to come on the air!" he said.
He waited about 15 minutes before he called the general manager. "Mr. Klein, I can't find anybody," Les said.
Mr. Klein then asked, "Young man, do you know how to work the controls in the studio?"
Yes, sir,replied Les.
Les darted into the booth, gently moved Rock aside and sat down at the turntable . He was ready. And he was hungry. He flipped on the microphone switch and got his voice on air.
Because of his preparation, Les was ready. He wowed the audience and his general manager. From that fateful beginning, Les went on to a successful career in broadcasting, politics, public speaking and television.