My birth name is Richard Allen Weirich but I’m known by many other monikers.
Everybody in my family, back in the day, called me Dickie or Dick. Every now and then, I hear from somebody who knew me in my younger days and they still call me by that name. But now it sounds so strange.
Somewhere around my junior or senior year in high school, I had been scheduled as the featured soloist in a band concert. On the program, my name was misspelled. Richard Weinch. After that, many of my band buddies called me Wench.
Then came my radio career and a new name. In those days, many entertainment personalities adopted adjectives to give more color to their names. For example: Machine Gun Kelly, Fats Domino, Chubby Checker, The Big Bopper. I became, Little Dickie. Yeah. Stupid. I still regret that one.
In 1973, I was hired to work at WIST in Charlotte, NC. My first day on the job, Program Director Scott Christianson, took me out to lunch and in the presence of my new fellow DJ staff I asked, “What do you think about the name, Dick Weirich?” His response: “Well, Bob, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that.”
Prior to my coming to the station, they had purchased a pricey new jingle package. One of the personalized jingles featured the name of Bob Burton, who for whatever reason, only lasted a week. His replacement assumed the same name. He didn’t last either. But WIST had invested $300, or so they claimed, on that one jock jingle. To make good on their investment, I was given the name Bob Burton.
After that, I was known as Bob. Even my wife started calling me that because nobody knew who the heck Dick or Richard was.
By 1974, I had moved onto WJDX in Jackson, MS, and the name Bob Burton continued with me. The jingle stayed in Charlotte.
Then came a morning show partner, Kurt Kilpatrick. I decided to call our show the Burton-Kurt Show. However, it sounded to our listeners as Burt and Kurt. So staff called me Bob and listeners called me Burt.
After stops in Tampa, Houston, and ultimately Birmingham, the name Burt was firmly established.
But I wasn’t finished with the name changes. In 1989, I entered the ministry, which resulted in the name, Reverend Richard Weirich. Church members called me, Brother Richard.
By the time I started writing novels in 2012, I was in a quandary as to what I should call myself. That’s when I decided that the name my parents gave me would do just fine.
Recently, the Strasburg High School graduating class of ’66 celebrated its 50th anniversary. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend. But I have heard from some of my old classmate friends who still call me Dick. I suppose that means I’ve now gone full-circle.
I am blessed with many friends from the many chapters in my life who call me by different names. But it’s not the names that matter but the great experiences and colorful personalities I encountered along the way. That’s one of the reasons I write. There’s always someone from my past to inspire me.