Horror flick master Wes Craven died Saturday.
I'm not a horror movie buff, although I may have seen Craven's iconic "Nightmare on Elm Street." But I had a connection to Wes Craven that goes back before he was Wes Craven.
Early in his career, Craven taught humanities at Clarkson College, where I went to school. I never had him for class, but one day between classes he approached me. I was doing a jazz show on radio two nights a week, and he asked if he could co-host with me one night a week.
Craven was maybe 28 at the time...cool, good-looking with a hot wife.
I said of course, and for almost 2 semesters, we co-hosted The Jazz Scene on the college FM station. I liked him, although I was a bit intimidated by his smarts and his caustic wit.
He had good taste and he opened my ears to some musicians I hadn't been familiar with. We had patter on air between cuts, and he often slipped in some funny cracks, probably half of which went over my head. But we had fun listening and sharing music we loved with unseen listeners on campus and beyond in New York's North Country. Sometimes his wife Bonnie would stop in at the studio.
Summer came and went. We returned to school to hear the hot gossip that Prof. Craven had left to go to Hollywood to make films. I lost track of him.
I heard about "Nightmare on Elm Street" and his other Freddy Kruger films, but since I had no interest in those films, I had no clue of who directed them.
It wasn't until his film "Scream" came out in 1996 that I realized it was Wes Craven, my co-host from Clarkson College radio. One of the news shows was doing a piece on the new film and they were interviewing Wes Craven. I was in the other room, but I heard his name mentioned. I ran over to the TV and,sure enough, it was Prof. Craven... nearly 30 years older, but Prof. Craven for sure.
I tried contacting him through his agent, to no avail. But I was saddened to learn of his death at 76 ... too young.
Others have his films to remember him, but I have something really unique. Up in my attic are several reel-to-reel tapes of the shows we did together on radio.
Now if only I could get that old tape recorder working again.