And so our story concludes

Does it seem to you that the ‘70s were a more adventurous time than now? Perhaps it’s just that we were younger then.

Bruce Heikkinen was 17 when he started working in radio at the beginning of that decade. Who does that today?

When he was 24, already a seasoned radio pro after jobs at four stations, the artist formerly known as Bruce Charles headed off to college. He went to the University of Wisconsin-Stout, over in the western part of the state, and worked at the campus radio station.

In 1978, a friend asked Bruce, “Hey, do you want to go to Washington with me?”

“I’ve never seen the Capitol,” Bruce said.

“No,” his friend said. “I’m going to the state of Washington.”

So off they went, leaving college in search of adventure. Bruce had $100 in his pocket. They drove west, found a lady who rented them a place, found jobs and forged new lives.

Having learned that “talking and entertaining people wasn’t work,” Bruce found a new gig that wasn’t work, either. He spent 25 years selling advertising for AT&T and US West. Based in the Seattle area, he “traveled all over the West on a good expense account,” enjoying its benefits at a time when business was booming.

“Have you seen ‘Mad Men’ on AMC? That was us.”

These days, Bruce Heikkinen has moved on to his third career. He runs a small advertising agency in the Seattle area. He still does some voice work. He lives on 20 acres about 25 miles south of Seattle. This is the view from his deck.


These days, Bruce has a side gig that takes him beyond Mount Rainier, to taverns, saloons and roadhouses all over western Washington.

“About 15 years back, an old wino died at the pub I went to. We had a memorial and I did the eulogy for him, saying some kind words and some thoughts about life and afterlife. It turned out he was a very interesting man, a Navy diver who tried out for the Olympic swim team, had a Purple Heart from World War II and more, a lot of things no one knew or he ever shared with others.

“After that, on occasion, I’m asked to be the MC/Tavern Preacher for wakes in some of the ‘finer establishments’ for the dearly beloved. I’ve found out there’s something interesting about everyone! I try to make that individual look like a saint even though that might not be the case.”

Lest you think our man is getting too pious, remember that he’s from Wisconsin.

“Plus I get free beer!”

Ah, yes, that rock ‘n’ roll spirit is alive and well.

Bruce, would you like to cue up some of your favorite tunes for us?


“I Got A Line On You,” Spirit, from “The Family That Plays Together,” 1968.


“What’s Going On,” Marvin Gaye, from “What’s Going On,” 1971.


“I’ll Be Around,” the Spinners, from “The Spinners,” 1972.

Thanks, man, then and now.


Filed under February 2009, Sounds

6 responses to “And so our story concludes

  1. bamabob

    Your post found an interesting person too—maybe its something about being from Wisconsin??

    Great tunes too—Spirit’s tune is top notch, Gaye is always welcome, and the Spinners….ahh the Spinners, smoooooth.

  2. Oh yeah, I love The Spinners. I was sad to note in the In Memoriam segment of the Grammys (and how horrid are the Grammys these days) that the group’s bass singer has died.

  3. What a cool set of posts! Nice job, and – as always – good tunes.

  4. Lisa Marie

    Hey, those are some of my favorite albums..many memories associated with that Spirit album.
    You see I am Bruce’s cousin and
    I am 3 years younger than him. I thought it was pretty cool to have a cousin who was a deejay named “Bruce Charles.” That was a fun time in our lives!!

  5. Pingback: Spirit “I Got a Line On You” « Rock God Cred

  6. Big Tommy

    Bruce is my best pal! I can guarantee you he hasn’t “skipped a beat” since his DJ days. Bruce Charles remains an icon in my community. Always the optimist, always the life of the party and always the best friend anyone could have.

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