Renaissance Man, Don Potter
By Billy Pilgrim
By Billy Pilgrim
Long, long ago, in a galaxy far away, in a broadcasting school in the Playboy Building on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood, I met Don Potter. At least I think I did. Neither of us can remember, but we know that must be so, because we were classmates together in a very special creative environment, and destined to follow our radio muse to Redding, and to work together many years later at Q97.
Meet renaissance man and unapologetic Deadhead Grateful Don Potter, who has rapidly endeared himself to radio listeners and theater audiences since his arrival in Northern California two years ago. Don works at Q97 and hosts Sunday Night Dead on legendary KPIG in Freedom, Calif. He will soon be appearing in Shasta College’s presentation of Sweeney Todd.
Enjoy: Are you having fun yet?
Potter: I’m having a blast. I am having so much fun, and it’s all on my terms.
Enjoy: What’s with all of this tie dye?
Potter: I’ve been wearing tie dye for 30 years. I work in radio where you don’t have to wear a tie, but you can wear tie dye. Every Friday is tie dye Friday. It makes people smile. You can be a walking billboard of fun.
Enjoy: First radio job?
Potter: I was 21 and working in the RV conversion business and I was miserable. I had a wife and a baby. Somehow my tape and resume ended up at a radio station in Santa Maria - KSMA, “Beautiful Music in Stereo.” They hired me for $600 a month, and fired me six months later for having too much personality.
Enjoy: What was your favorite Dead show?
Potter: Has to be my second. I didn’t get them the first time. I thought, “What’s with all these long jams? What in the world is going on?” My second show was May 25, 1974. I got it. I got on the bus that day.
Enjoy: How many times did you meet Jerry Garcia?
Potter: Five times. Maybe more. I’ve met everyone in the band. I have been so lucky.
Enjoy: You officiated your morning radio partner’s wedding at an Oakland A’s game.
Potter: I worked with Wayne Coy at KKIQ. I married Wayne and Nancy at home plate at an A’s game. It was Star Wars Night at the Coliseum. There was a guy trying to set a world’s record on a treadmill on the upper deck. There were fireworks. And the A’s lost.
Enjoy: Worst radio experience? Best radio experience?
Potter: I was on the air on 9/11 and covered the Loma Prieta Earthquake nonstop in ‘89. These events were the worst in terms of tragedy, loss of life and destruction. Yet they were the best radio experiences, too, because I was doing what I was trained to do.
Enjoy: You’ve met a lot of people in your broadcast life. Who would you like to meet that you haven’t yet?
Potter: Barack Obama. He’s handled so much with great dignity and intelligence, and has been a wonderful humanitarian.
Enjoy: What’s your hope for the future?
Potter: The world is on a crazy course right now. I trust we will survive. We will get by. I’m grateful. I’m optimistic. I trust in God. I think we will be ok.
There is a photograph of a young Grateful Don in the liner notes of the Grateful Dead’s very first box set.