I was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and, while growing up, I lived in Bremerton and Seattle, Washington, El Paso and Ft. Worth, Texas, Springfield, Ohio, and Angola (near Buffalo) New York. I needed scholarships and loans to attend and graduate from The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, where I concentrated in history as an undergraduate and for a short time studied political science in graduate school. I later received a J.D. Degree with Honors, from the University of Baltimore School of Law. Even though I was admitted to the Bar in Maryland, I never practiced law. In 2012, my late wife, Janis Ahalt Riker, and I moved from Maryland to Portland, Oregon. Jan passed away on April 8, 2014.
I spent the first 15 years of my career in journalism, with United Press International in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., except for a hiatus during which I first was assistant public relations director at Johns Hopkins and then assistant press secretary to the Governor of Maryland. Among many things, I covered the civil rights movement and racial violence of the 1960s, the political rise and fall of Spiro Agnew, and the movement against the Vietnam War. I worked in the UPI Washington bureau during the height of President Nixon’s Watergate scandal when we went through its greatest crisis in our national government since the Civil War.
The next third of my career was in telecommunications, first as an executive with the pioneering long distance competitor, MCI Communications, Inc., the company chiefly responsible for the breakup of AT&T, and then as CEO of Pocket Communications, Inc, a mobile telephone company. I also provided some assistance to other companies with fund-raising, business and strategic planning. Among my various duties with MCI, I developed the company’s first billion-dollar capital construction budget, devised their first national fiber optic network plan, and managed their subsidiary cellular business. My business plan for Pocket Communications predicted the enormous growth of mobile communications that subsequently occurred. I raised nearly $1 billion in debt and equity from contracts with major equipment manufacturers in North America, Europe and Japan and from investors in Asia, Europe and the United States. I also employed the services of a number of major Wall Street banks, including J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Bear Stearns.
My third career was in bookselling, which included the operation of two retail stores and an on-line business that gave me considerable experience with the Internet. We financed an expansion of our business with a loan through the Small Business Administration.
From selling books of others, I turned to writing my own. I have published two novels, A Light Not of This World, a futuristic thriller about a nuclear attack on the U.S. by terrorists, and Seneca Point, a mystery featuring a former CIA agent turned private detective. I have completed a third novel, The Blue Girl Murders, a historical mystery set in Baltimore in 1966, partly based on my own experiences.
I have just completed first book of non-fiction is Do What Works and Call it Capitalism, which is described in a separate section on this website, and I am about to begin the effort to retain an agent to represent the book with potential publishers.