February 11, 2005
Dear Subscriber:

"Don, I heard your tape. Want a job?"

"Not really. I want a position."

"I hold the position. I pay the bills. All I have for you is a

It was a phone conversation I had with Phil Runnels in 1998.
We sparred with each other jokingly from the very beginning.
Our sense of humors were a good match.

Phil owns two radio stations in Alamogordo. At the time of
our phone conversation Peggy and I had just given up our lease
on our cafe on the Cloudcroft boardwalk and I needed a job.

I applied at WalMart. I could see myself in one of those
spiffy smocks gathering up shopping carts in the parking lot
and, later in my WalMart career, helping people select the
proper fertilizer for their gardens. There's nothing like
having that kind of authoritative influence over people.

I applied at a cement company. I had done some cement work and
hate working with cement and I figured everyone else did too
which meant there must me lots of job openings in that area. I
could see myself rising quickly from one of the guys slopping
around in the wet muddy stuff to the guy that drives the truck
and then to the front office booking jobs in my golf shirt with
the company logo over the left pocket.

I even applied as the janitor at a doctor's clinic. It's not
beneath me to clean toilets especially since the job description
said work starts at 5am which brought to my mind lots of
solitude and free coffee. Eventually, after a little schooling,
I could rise to the ranks of an emergency medical technician.

"Base, we have a patient here that needs a heart transplant."

"Sorry, we're fresh out of hearts. Ask him if he'll settle for
a kidney."

I kicked back after my applications and waited for the phone to
ring. No takers. I have a college education. I kept wondering
who got the janitor's job. He or she must have a PhD.

I thought maybe it might be age discrimination, but I'm not one
to whine.

"I DEMAND the right to shovel your cement at minimum wage or
I'll see you in court!"

I was 49 years old and unemployed and it seemed no one wanted to
hire me. My self esteem hit monumental lows.

Then Phil called.

I had almost forgotten how I had sent him a tape of my radio
show in Lubbock and had accordingly given up on any reply.

Phil hired me as the morning show announcer on "The Stealth,"
his classic rock FM station in Alamogordo.

Normally I would have been a little full of myself. I was a
radio veteran of 30 years and Phil's station had an audience of
about one tenth of what I used to talk to in Lubbock, but all I
could think of was I couldn't even get a job shoveling cement,
so when he said I had the job I had to exercise a little self
control not to kiss him on the face.

It was a lot of fun. Phil gave me a lot of leash. The music I
played on the air was dictated to me but I picked some of my own
favorites to play and threw in some comedy bits. The audience
was growing. I could tell by the request line calls. I put
callers on the air and that generated more calls. I was like a
kid in a candy store with a platinum Visa card.

As I said, I had been in radio for more than 30 years. It had 
been my experience that, even in smaller markets, owners and
managers were a little condescending. Not Phil. He was a breath
of fresh air. His attitude was he had a job and you had a job
so let's do it.

One day the request line rang and a listener was chewing me out
for playing an Abba song.

For those of you that don't know, Abba is not exactly a rock
group. Rock music listeners not only revere their artists, they
also have a habit of poo-pooing anything that doesn't fit into
their own category of rock. Artists like Jethro Tull and Lenard
Skinnard are rock. Abba and Jeno Vanelli are not just not rock,
they're considered by many hard core rock fans as anti-rock.

"Quit playing that crud."

"What crud is that, Sir?"

"That Abba crud."

"I like the song."

"I don't."

"Are you the program director?"


"Didn't think so. Bye." and I hung up.

The caller had bruised my ego. I thought I had a gotcha coming.
I played the conversation back on the air.

After my shift, Phil met me in the hall.

"Coffee?" he asked.

"Sure, why not?" I said.

Phil didn't bother to beat around the lamp post with the good
job I was doing or how the audience seemed to like me or all
that other stuff I had heard from past handlers in my radio
career over the years. He cut right to the chase.

"The FCC requires that you let a caller know he is going to
be on the air. You didn't do that with that guy. He called
me and threatened all kinds of stuff. I don't need that.
Here's his phone number. Call him back and apologize."

Phil left me in the hallway. The coffee clutch was over and
I hadn't even taken my first sip.

I could have gotten real indignant and pontificated about how
if the guy didn't like it he could change to another station
and yadda yadda, but all I could think about was that cement
shoveling job I didn't get.

I called the guy and apologized. I had to listen to how he was
right and I was wrong and I gritted my teeth and agreed. After
I hung up the phone I didn't feel like I had lost a battle. I
projected myself to his end of the phone. I didn't give him the
benefit of an argument. I don't think he felt like he had won,

It wasn't long after that that I had a brain aneurysm. I was
in the hospital for a month. When I got home, Phil called.

"When are you coming back to work?"

"I can't, Phil. This brain thing messed up my voice."

There was a pause.

"I'll double your salary."

"Yeah, and then when I can't hack it, you'll be stuck with
having to fire me."

"Never happen."

"You're right...it won't."

We've all had millions of phone conversations. That is one I'll
never forget.

Phil wasn't concerned with what I could do for him. He was
concerned with what he could do for me.

I saw Phil in the grocery store last week. His eyes lit up when
he saw me. I'm sure mine did too. We talked a bit, ribbed each
other a little and we went our separate ways.

Phil Runnels has taken those radio stations from on the edge of
bankruptcy when he bought them to a special place in the hearts
of thousands of listeners. I think he's done it in no small
part through his respect of other people.

What you see is what you get with Phil.

Don Vanlandingham

A big snow on Saturday. About 1.5 inches of moisture (around 18
inches of snow). The wet and heavy variety, causing some power
outages in the area.

High for the reporting period 44.8 11:31 am February 9. Low for
the same period was 14.3 at 5:41 am February 4.
Total precipitation since the first of the year -- 3.12 inches.

A glitch in our rainfall graph on the weather station at 

Cloudcroft.com due to a frozen receptor. Figures have been
corrected, except for the rainfall graph, which must recycle.
Until it recycles, please disregard the 140 inches of rain it
says fell this past Tuesday.


Parent Advisory Councils have been established for all three
levels of Cloudcroft public schools. These councils are
mandated by the state and are designed to involve parents more
directly in their child's education.
If you are interested in purchasing property in the Cloudcroft
or Alamogordo areas, or just have a curiosity about market
availability or variability, contact the Realtors at American
Southwest Realty for courteous and professional assistance. We
subscribe to the Multiple Listing Service and will be more than
happy to help you review the comprehensive listing of properties
county-wide. We take great pride in the high level of personal
service we provide to our customers and clients. 

Please give us a call at (505) 682-8515 or (866) 851-3279 
(toll free) or see the link to our web site on the Real Estate
page of Cloudcroft.com:




Q - I just recently signed up for your newsletter. How long
have you offered it and where can I find back issues?

A - We began the Cloudcroft Online Newsletter with the April 1,
2000 issue as a sister publication to Cloudcroft.com.

All back issues are available in our archives on Cloudcroft.com.


If your newsletter bounces or is blocked by a spam filter,
you are automatically deleted from our list. If you don't get
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ISP to correct that.
February 11 -- Black history of New Mexico. Flickenger Center.
Alamogordo. (505) 437-2202.

February 14 -- Chocolate Buffet & Cabaret with Cathie Ryan.
Flickenger Center. (505) 437-2202

February 14 -- Valentine Dance. Cloudcroft High School Commons.
(505) 682-2524.

February 17, 18, 19, and 20 -- White Sands Film festival.
(505) 437-2202

February 25 -- Annual Rails to Trails meeting. FNB-Alamogordo.
(505) 682-3040.

February 26 -- Luma: Theater of Light. Flickenger Center
(505) 437-2202

February 27 -- Lake Lucero Tour. White Sands. (505) 679-2599.

March 26 -- Easter Egg hunt. Cloudcroft.

March 26 -- Easter Bonnet parade. Cloudcroft. 2pm.

May 6-7 -- 2005 Organ Mountain Film Festival. New Mexico Farm
and Ranch Heritage Museum. 4100 Dripping Springs, Las Cruces.

May 7 -- Old Timer's reunion. Cloudcroft.

May 28, 29 -- Mayfest. Cloudcroft.

June 17, 18, 19 -- Western Roundup. Cloudcroft.

July 9 and 10 -- July Jamboree. Cloudcroft.
Dear Newsletter:

Thanks for sending the newsletter always look forward to it.

I enjoy coming to Cloudcroft as often as I can. Great people 
and a great place.

Harry Wood
Centerville, Texas 
Dear Newsletter:

My wife and I enjoy your newsletter very much. We have the same
love for the wonderful little village of Cloudcroft you do.

Our dream is to one day retire to Cloudcroft. (I'm only a few
short years away!) Thanks for your fine and very enjoyable work.

David and Sharon Royall 

Dear Newsletter:

My wife and I will be there in the week of April 15-21. We have
a time share at Ruidoso. This will be our first visit there.
We have seen that mountainous area from 37,000 feet numerous
times as we flew East to Dallas or Atlanta.

My father was born in Russia Canyon, Cloudcroft, in July 1900.
His name, Walter A. Martin.

His maternal grandparents, Dr John Humphrey Peake and wife Mae
Tarbell Peake, were raising potatoes and selling timber
somewhere in the area. Dr Peake died in El Paso in 1902. Mae
died in Clint, TX in 1926.

So we hope to find someone who knows the history of the area
and some history files to tell us as much as possible about
my family's background in Cloudcroft.

Tarbell C. Martin 

[Here is one story of an early Cloudcroft pioneer family.]


Dear Newsletter:

Thank you so much for your comments on the Iraq election. I
agree whole-heartedly. My husband has been there, met Iraqi’s
and helped to train the New Iraqi Army. From his first-hand
experiences, the Iraqi people want this and they need our
help. They want our help, despite what the media may say and
how the media may twist it. 

As usual, you are eloquent in the way you write about situations
in your newsletter. Thank you for putting your thoughts into
writing for people to read all over the world.
Susan Leuquire
Holloman AFB, NM

Dear Newsletter:

Your writing style is wonderful! You should be doing a column
for a major newspaper. Your writing reminds me of the
Chronicle's Leon Hale who pens the wonderful whimsical tales
from his old country place in Washington County near Houston.

I enjoyed the analogy regarding the great Iraqi voter turnout
very much. Makes me ashamed that I sometimes miss the
opportunity to vote. It's nice to know that such a talented
writer is our "part time" neighbor in the Sacramento's.

Jim and Dianna Hayhurst
Cypress, Tx. and Blanca Vista Lane

Dear Newsletter:

Loved your column! When I saw the Iraqis dancing in the street
and shouting for joy at being able to vote, it put me to shame.
Not that I don't vote (I do!), but I so take it for granted.

Thank you for reminding me why I shouldn't.

Hope M. Garcia
Rio Rancho

Dear Newsletter:

Like you Mr. Vanlandingham, I was glued to the TV watching
the elections in Iraq. After watching for a few hours, I
realized once again how lucky I am to live in America, where
we are free to practice what ever religion we choose, to have
a voice and say so if we don't like how something is being
done in our government without fear of retaliation.

If I had the choice to live anywhere in the world, I would stay
right here in the USA. I am sure the citizens of Iraq love
their homeland as much as I love mine, but I am also sure
they have had sad hearts because of how their country has been
run. Maybe now with democracy to lead their country, they will
be able to have a voice without fears of their voices being
permanently silenced.

The smiles on their faces when they left the polling places
after voting said it all.

I couldn't help but smile myself watching how happy they were. 

We mourn all of the brave soldiers who have died in Iraq and
for all of the soldiers still in Iraq, may God speed and bring
them all safely home.

Kathy Whitaker
Midland, Texas

Dear Newsletter:

Thanks for voicing your thoughts regarding the Iraqi election.
It was truly a human triumph. Imagine being so happy that you
voted that you wanted to dance in the street! Or, risking your
life just by going to the polls, or running for office! It puts
the nay-sayers to shame. The next time that I vote, I will
remember this. I feel very blessed to live in this country.

For the folks in New Jersey who feel that New Mexico is calling
to them, welcome aboard. So many of us readers have the same

As to winter, my family and I have only visited Cloudcroft in
the winter. It does get cold at night, but that's when you sit
in front of the fireplace or stove, and sleep under the
blankets. Besides, during the daytime, it doesn't feel as cold
as the thermometer says it is due to the low humidity and bright
sunshine. At night, there are just so many myriad stars that
just glitter in the dark skies. I wish I was there gazing up at
them right now.

Sharon Cox
Magnolia, Texas

Dear Newsletter:

It may be selfish, but I don't want to see Cloudcroft grow
any more than it has. If I wanted to visit Ruidoso, it is
just a short drive to there from Cloudcroft. One of the
virtues of your village is its size and atmosphere, which
would be changed forever if it grew too much.

Growth of a town or village is not all beneficial. There aren't
too many places that have the charm that Cloudcroft has today,
and I would hate to see that change. Let's keep a few places
where we can still get away from it all. I need my Cloudcroft

Lee Phillips

Dear Newsletter:

Whatever you do please don't let the fast food franchises
come in and commercialize Cloudcroft That would be a total
disaster. The place is perfect the way it is and and doesn't
need to be muddied up with neon signs and golden arches.

We used to vacation occasionally at Sanibel Island in Florida
and there, as in Cloudcroft, all of the shops, restaurants and
accommodations are locally owned and locally operated and
totally in harmony with the ambiance of the island. 
Cloudcroft is a unique place unto itself and if there is one
thing it doesn't need it's a lot of glitz and glamour. If
that's what people want when they go on a vacation, let 'em
go to Las Vegas.
Cloudcroft is perfect just the way it is and my motto is "If
it ain't broke, don't fix it!"
Anybody that badly in need of a "grease fix" can drive down
the mountain to Alamogordo. There are plenty of fast food
restaurants down there.
Phyllis Kindred
Shreveport, LA

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Copyright © 2005 Cloudcroft Online
The Travel and Visitor's Guide to Cloudcroft, New Mexico.
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