October 29, 1979 12:00 PM

Richard Hovey Jr. is too young (12) to drive a Rolls-Royce legally, but that doesn’t stop him from selling them or serving as a bona fide mechanic on their invaluable innards. He puts in 15 to 25 hours a week after school in father Richard Sr.’s A&G Classic Cars showroom in Phoenix, Ariz, and already owns 10 percent of the $3 million company. Junior began at age 7 by cleaning and polishing cars and, as his dad recalls, “sort of grew into being my mechanic’s helper.” Recently young Rick diagnosed a broken push-rod as the cause of smoking in a 1960 Silver Cloud II Rolls-Royce and had it torn down, repaired and back on the road in a matter of days. At the same time, the youngster developed an eye for bargains. When he spotted a 1941 Ford for sale, he put up $25 in savings while his father pledged a ring for $100. They sold the car 24 hours later for $1,000, and Hovey split the profit with his son. By age 10, Rick was trusted enough to run a California auction when the old man had to leave for an hour. “I always worried that I might be cheating him out of his normal childhood,” his dad concedes, but adds admiringly, “I can’t believe the knowledge that young fellow has about cars. I only wish all my workers had his perseverance.”

Melanie Donahoe started in TV four years ago—as a receptionist for San Francisco’s KBHK. Today, at 25, she is the Washington, D.C.-based producer of PM Magazine, a high-rated news-feature and how-to show now syndicated in 42 cities. “I’ve surprised a lot of people because I’m so ambitious,” admits Melanie. A Stanford University graduate, she arrived for her first day’s work with a package of emery boards but never got to her nails. Instead she quizzed the station manager at lunch-time about his job, then bird-dogged the engineers, editors and cameramen for more info. Within three months she was writing, directing and announcing for the station. (She feels she acquired self-confidence and adaptability as a child when her father, an electronics executive, moved the family 17 times in six different states.) In 1977, Donahoe jumped to San Francisco’s KPIX as associate producer of Evening Magazine, PM’s pilot. “I worked like a crazy person,” she recalls of a schedule that allowed her only two weekends off in nine months. It’s a little easier now with a staff of 13, plus six free-lancers and eight interns. But Donahoe won’t be satisfied until she heads her own production company. “After all, if you have the power,” she says, “you can do something to change the world.”

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