broadcaster was thrown onto the stage at the 6,000 seat Milwaukee Auditorium,
where he acted as master of ceremonies for WMIL's live performances.
For once, the normally cool Shuster was getting butterflies.
"I was scared. I went
out, said a few words of introduction, and left the stage.
It was my 'baptism of fire.'" Shuster
introduced country acts including George Jones, Dolly Parton, Porter Wagoner,
Sonny James, Stonewall Jackson, and 'Lefty' Frizell.
soaking in the backstage atmosphere of country music, Shuster determined that
the time had come to reevaluate where his career was heading -- at age 15.
"I decided I wanted to do something that had more class, that was
more upscale," explains Shuster. "When
I looked around me, I somehow felt that being a newscaster was several rungs up
the ladder from a disc jockey. At
that time I was only slightly drawn to journalism.
For me it was mainly that being a newscaster was 'better,' 'classier'
than being a disc jockey. I had a
knack for it and developed a determination to be the best news presenter
In 1965 at
the age of 16, Shuster asked his boss at WMIL for a raise from $1.00 to $1.25 per hour.
When his request was turned down, "I burst into tears," says
Shuster, laughing at the memory. Feeling
embarrassed, dejected and seeking a place to calm down and lick his wounds,
Shuster went directly to the empty bleachers at a nearby softball diamond.
Moments later, he was surprised to see the staff of Milwaukee's popular
rock station, WRIT, arrive for a company ballgame. "I see all these famous WRIT guys there including Lee
Rothman, who was their top morning DJ at the time. I introduced myself and told him what a fan of the station I
was and that I wanted to work at WRIT…as a newsman. He introduced me to the news director, Guy Mainella.
Mainella knew my family from the old neighborhood and tells me to come
in for an audition, which I did. After
the audition, he says 'You know what? I'm
going to put you on the radio here. ' And
that's how it happened. And I was
given much more than $1.25 an hour!"
Scott at WRIT's U.P.I. teletype
nothing if not devoted to his craft. He'd
arrive for a morning air shift at 5 a.m., then leave for school two hours later.
Did being an on-air personality give him a leg up on his high school
peers? "My 10th grade
classmates were struck when they heard me doing the news on WRIT.
WRIT was Milwaukee's top rock 'n roll station and this was the '60s.
Milwaukee is a small Chicago; and records had to be a hit in Chicago
before they'd play them in New York. This
made our station an incredible focus of attention for the music industry.
The Beatle's 'Sgt. Pepper' album was delivered by courier to us many
weeks before it was released in the US. I opened the package from London and the music director later told me I
was actually the first person in America to hold a copy of that album."
young Shuster never pressed his advantage, feeling that the job was more
important than girls at the time. It
was a laser-like focus that he would carry for the early part of his adult life.