RESTAURATOR: Radio Days + Sugar cookies

My neighbors a few doors down started decorating their backyard for Christmas a few decades ago. At first it just started with a small display in front of the house. Over the years, they’ve added new rooms, several new characters, scenes, sets, and festive holiday elements. This is not a cheap Clark Griswold type Christmas display. It takes a few days for a whole team to set it up. In the end, I’m grateful to know – and live nearby – people who put in so much effort and so many resources to dress the neighborhood tastefully while on vacation. They created a whole Christmas village on the street. It is very complex, complex and festive and attracts many passers-by on a busy road. People even park their cars, get out and walk around posing for photos.

This year, in addition to adding several new stages in the Christmas village, they launched a radio station. The signal only covers a few blocks, but if you tune to 107.1, a small transmitter will play Christmas music in your car as you drive past their Christmas display. I like this. That’s wonderful. I am a big fan. It’s a good thing for the community.

I like my neighborhood. This is the neighborhood in which I grew up. However, when we moved into our house in 1968, the neighborhood I currently live in and the land my neighbors live on and built their Christmas village on was nothing but pine woods and jeep trails. I spent my youth cycling in these woods which probably covered almost 800 acres.

Right on the edge of those woods lived a guy who was my brother’s age, who – at 13 – had a home radio station that he played from his bedroom. The signal, like the current Christmas neighbors in the area, only covered a small area. I could barely pick up the station on the clock radio on my bedside table, but I listened often. It was the early 1970s and there weren’t many options for a good radio in Hattiesburg.

I’m not sure if this had anything to do with my entry into radio, or if it was just that I liked music and started announcing events at my school, which made me think of my mom that I could make a good radio presenter. Chances are she thought that someone with interests like me, and no apparent talent, no money, and no source of income, might need to start thinking about a career. So when I was 15, she pushed me to apply for a job at a radio station.

I immediately fell in love with the radio job. At first the program director only gave me the New Orleans Saints radio show, which involved sitting in a chair for three hours listening to Archie Manning run for his life because we didn’t have much of an offensive line. , and when the radio broadcaster that called the game sent it to a local station to get last-minute legal ID, I was able to flip the mic switch and say, “You’re listening to New Orleans Saints on WHSY AM, Hattiesburg. ” Those 12 words were huge to me. Seriously, huge.

Eventually I was able to start spinning records for a full weekend shift, and quickly got the seven to midnight shift six days a week. I liked it. At $ 2.30 an hour, I wasn’t making a lot of money. But the crazy secret is that if I had had any cash reserves, I would have paid them to let me on air and play music. It seemed like a career that could be tailor-made for me.

I worked whenever they asked me to. The typical radio station lasts four hours. For two years in a row, I worked Christmas Eve from 6:00 p.m. until Christmas morning at 6:00 a.m., and New Years Eve from 6:00 p.m. until New Year’s Day at 6:00 a.m. I’m sure all the other DJs at the resort – most of whom were in their mid to late twenties – viewed him like, “Let’s make that kid from St. John work every vacation hour.” I watched him as they give me a 12 hour shift! It’s awesome!

At that time, we had to sign live at midnight. Closing duties for DJs included playing the national anthem, signing newspapers for the Federal Communications Commission, and then shutting down the transmitter. Although many Saturday nights I would tell my friends to leave their radios on after the midnight close. I would usually wait three or four minutes after turning off the transmitter, turning it back on, going back to the DJ booth and following the Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and Beatles albums until three or four in the morning. Everything for my high school friends who drove around and most of the time, nothing good. It was my version of a personal radio station like my brother’s friend (although probably illegal).

At the time, the largest station in the South was WZZQ in Jackson. It was a real rock radio turned towards the album where the disc jockeys programmed their own music. FM frequencies were not used massively at the time. Our radio station’s FM frequency programmed a format that they call “beautiful music”. No one was listening. We begged and finally convinced the owner of the station to let us turn it into a rock album station like WZZQ. The next 18 months have been one of the most exciting times of my life. I was part of a small group of three or four who first brought real rock and roll radio to Hattiesburg. It was extremely popular.

After I graduated from high school and went to college, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, so I majored in communication. Unfortunately, I mainly specialized in partying. After a few years, I failed. Although it ended up being one of the best things that ever happened to me because I ended up working in restaurants and fell in love with catering. As much as I love music – and I really love music, all music, I’ve always done it and always will love it – the restaurant bug bit me harder and I never looked in back since.

My son wants to start a restaurant business. Lately he has started DJing. The careers that I imposed on him are not either. Maybe it’s in the blood.

Every time I pass my neighbors’ Christmas village, I turn it on the small radio frequency broadcasting Christmas music which reaches all the way to my house. Maybe it’s the Christmas spirit, or maybe it’s sentimentality, but lately I’ve been thinking about starting a local radio station. One like my brother’s friend, coming out of a room. It would only cover a few blocks, but it would also take me back to one of the greatest moments of my life.


A native of Hattiesburg, Robert St. John is a restaurateur, chef and author. He wrote a column in a weekly newspaper for over 20 years.

Sugar cookies

Yield: 8 dozen small cookies


• 1 cup of butter

• ½ cup) sugar

• 1 large egg

• 1 tablespoon of vanilla

• 3 cups of flour

• ½ teaspoon of baking powder


1. Preheat the oven to 350 ° F.

2. Cream the butter and sugar; stir in the egg and vanilla.

3. Sift the flour and baking powder together, incorporate into the mixture. Refrigerate for about 1 hour or until dough is firm enough to roll.

4. On a floured surface, roll out to 1/8 inch thick and cut with cookie cutters. Sprinkle the top with granulated sugar.

5. Cook 10-12 minutes.

Rachel J. Bradford