Ken Cartwright is a man used to doing things differently, so exchanging “I do’s” with Jan Castillo over the airwaves failed to surprise his family and friends.
In fact, an estimated 1,200 listeners – including relatives from California to Pennsylvania, Washington to Florida – tuned in to 1620 AM on Oct. 18 to hear longtime friend, Paul Toews, pronounce the Stayton couple “man and wife.”
“Biggest wedding I’ve ever been to!” said Cartwright jokingly.
And friends, including Toews, he said, were not surprised at his “hi-tech” exchange of vows. Cartwright owns the station, which airs around the clock in 30 countries and all states but North Dakota. The unusual wedding – perhaps the first of its kind – also was heard on the Internet by “guests.”
“We’ve had lots of phone calls from people saying they loved it,” Cartwright said. “In fact, one girl said it was the first wedding she attended in hair curlers and bedroom slippers!”
All joking aside, Cartwright believes that time, money and logistics considered, the couple’s radio wedding was the right thing to do.
“We had to wait for the right time and place to do this as our relationship solidified,” Cartwright said, referring to his relationship with Castillo, whom he met many years ago.
A little over three years ago, he said, “I had a natural urge to get to know her better.”
He asked her out. Castillo said yes.
They talked about marriage from time to time, but hardships prevented the couple from following through. Cartwright battled and is recovering from a serious illness that required surgery in May. Castillo cared for an ailing stepmother until her recent death and her mother, who has Alzheimer’s and is now in an assisted-living facility.
Cartwright decided it was time to get hitched. And just like most things he’s done in life, his proposal was just a little unique.
“I decided to ask Jan to marry me at the silent auction,” Cartwright said, of the Aug. 21 benefit at the Stayton Community Center to help him pay medical bills.
While thanking everyone for their support, he stopped long enough to tell Jan that she forgot to look at “something” at the auction table.
“She found the ring and the card and screamed like a little school girl,” he said.
To Cartwright’s “will you marry me,” inscribed inside the card, she yelled, “Yes!”
“Someone asked her when, and she asked, ‘Is there a preacher in the house?’”
And as talk about their pending nuptials centered around their novel location, Cartwright and Castillo agreed, “Why not!”
A few friends and family attended the civil ceremony, held in his radio production studio above his downtown store, Cartwright’s Music & Repair. Their “I do’s” were squeezed in between regular Sunday programming, with “guests” – known and unknown – tuning in.
“My niece joked about the wedding competing with her husband’s NFL football games,” Cartwright joked. “But she did listen in and even asked for a copy of one of the songs from the wedding.”
Cartwright also videotaped the event for those who missed it.
The couple may have set precedence with their unusual location, and Cartwright said he would consider allowing others to wed on air.
He won’t, however, replay his own wedding for listeners who weren’t able to catch the broadcast.
“Once is enough,” said Cartwright, who admits he is still giddy this few weeks after the broadcast.
About his new bride and their life together, he said, “I feel like a boy with a brand new shiny penny!”