A just-for-fun group for former radio announcers that have made the transition to full-time VO, leaving their DJ days behind. What we miss (and what we don't) about being on the air, and working in radio in general. Share your stories!
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Several yrs ago, circa 1988-89 while working overnights at WFAS-FM, the on air staff was getting used to the new liner cards. We couldn't say "CD" because that was considered a financial investiment. Heaven forbid we confuse the audience in Westchester County, NY. We had to clearly say COMPACT DISC. CD's were relatively new and most radio stations were emphasizing their glorious new sound because the music was on CD. oooops, I mean COMPACT DISC.
Here I am, 3 o'clock in the morning, reading my liner card. "Westchester's Bright 104, where the music is not too hard, not too soft. Just right on COMPACT DICK."
Instead of drawing attention to my mistake, I just fumbled through the rest of my front sell and played the next song. Who could have heard the mistake anyway? It was 3am. So I breezed through the rest of my shift and went home for breakfast at 6am. That's when the **sh it the fan. Apparently, a group of friends with my sister were hanging out in the parking lot at a local night club after closing waiting to hear me on the air. At least 15 of them heard my error. Twenty yrs later, they still don't let me forget it.
Believe it or not, they actually serve a useful purpose as a stressometer - Whenever I start having them, I sit down and look at whatever is causing me grief, and then do something about it!
I've been off air for about 17 years, and I don't really miss it at all!
In 1983, I'd been at my first commercial station in Armidale, NSW for about a week. (I'd previously been involved in university and community radio - there are some stories there, too!)
I'd been given the 6-11.30pm shift, and being a typical country town station, I was the only person on site.
At the ripe old age of 18, it was a pretty stressful time!
Thankfully, we had a pre-recorded show on air from 9.30 to 10pm, which gave me a welcome break. At about 9.50, I went outside to do the weather obs (we were also the local met station), and the door locked behind me.
.....and I hadn't yet been given a key.....
Panic time? You betcha!!
After a minute or two of carefully considered falling apart, I ran 200m down to the nearest phone booth (no mobile phones back in those days, kiddies!) to call somebody to let me back into the station.
Got to the phone booth...checked my pockets....only enough change for one call.
OK....one call is all I need. Now, who to call?
I succumbed to a second wave of panic as I realised that I didn't know the numbers of any of the other staff.
I checked the phone book, but it was pretty useless as the on-air staff were unlisted, and I couldn't remember the surnames of the staff that may have had their names in the book. It was 9.55pm, and at this point, I was having trouble even remembering my own name!
10pm-The surname of our station engineer filtered through what was left of my sanity. I found the number and called him. Like me, he wasn't impressed-but at least he thought it was funny!
10.20pm- I'd spent the last 20 minutes wondering what job I could do next, because I was certain I'd be sacked for this one. the engineer arrived and let me in.
The dead air alarm was going crazy, the tape had run out and the auto shutoff arm on the old Ampex 440 had jammed so the reel had been spinning out of control. There were shreds of tape all over the studio.
I took a deep breath, opened the mic and apologised for the 20 minutes of dead air, caused by "Technical Difficulties" and then went to a record that I'd cued earlier.
The outcome? I got a kick in the bum, but I kept my job.....and I got a nice shiny new key to the station the next day!
I find even though I have now been "off the air" and not working on the radio either:-) (sorry people lame attempt at humor) for the last 16 years, in times of stress I still have them.
They range from somehow making the bizarre choice to leave the building during a song and not getting back in time to beat the dead air (go figure) to being in a studio that is bereft of any cds, records or carts that run any longer than 10 seconds.Who says nightmares have to make sense.
Anyway now for a dose of reality. I was all of about 18 or 19 at the time of the Falklands War in 1982 at my very 1st radio station in a little town called Burnie in Tasmania (the island state of Australia). There you did everything from on air to your own production, carting and of course reading the news.Not to mention emptying the trash and turning off the transmitter and the lights as you left after your night shift.
Anyway the Argentinians had just made a major strike against one of the English ships with an Exocet missile, a very news worthy and indeed grave event.
So my attempt at broadcasting these dire circumstances went something like this "the exocet missile hit and sunk the friggin Ardent...it hit and sunk the frig..it hit and sunk the friga" til after several lame attempts to say Frigate Ardent I resorted to saying.."it sunk the ship."
In my nervousness I wasn't aware I had even done til a colleague telling me he had almost choked on his lunch and fell on the floor in fits of laughter. Of course i didn't believe him but the rpoof was on the logger tape.
Here’s one. It’s 1998, I am on the air in LA on KEDG The Edge. Which was like the coolest station. One day the format was terminated and everyone was fired.. except me. I thought. OK, do I want to be on the street looking for a job with all the other jocks like JJ Jackson, Jim Ladd, Raechell Donahue and Cynthia Fox and Anita Gevinson? I decided to stick around and play adult contemporary music. The station was still owned by Gene Autry and they named it K-Light the call letters were KLIT.. Anyway I digress.
I have been placed not in afternoon drive (which they promised me if I stayed). but overnights midnight to 5:30am. However on this particular day there is a staff meeting and I am asked to come in and go on the air while the meeting takes place. Of course the thought of one less overnight shift was glorious. But here I am thinking I am a talented jock and I can't believe I am not even considered part of the air staff.
So everyone is there and they all are, smiling, walking past the glass walled studio waving at me. I give a reluctant wave, trying to look cool and proceed to knock over my can of Pepsi into the board.
We hear the speakers sort of fizzle out and then.. dead air. Everyone is in shock as an engineer hoofs it to the production room and cues up a record and throws a switch to make the production studio live. I skulked down the hallway to finish my shift from the production room.
To conclude this story in a positive light. I believe that experience was part of my destiny, that brought me to this moment. If you would like to know that story I will be happy to share it next time.
I've had nazi's threaten to kill me, when I was doing talk back, they didn't like the topic and the comments, aaahhhh.... the power of the microphone, I just told all my listeners what had happened and I had several security officers park themselves outside the station for several days.
A lady tried commiting suicide while on the phone.... I just kept her talking while organising the police to break down her door and take her to hospital. She lived.... hooray.
Oh... had a stalker too...
Here's my gem tho'... as part of a large radio network in Australia whenever we had artists in for interviews, we'd try and get them in the production studio for an acoustic version of their latest hit and we'd share these songs around the network. ... (on reel to reel of course)
Well, I'm on air... cued up Guns N Roses... fast forwarded and stopped a few times to have a quick listen... noticed that Axel stuffs up a couple of times but then gets straight back into the song. So... going into the break I set it up... " hey have a listen Axel's having a bad hair day.... blah blah ..." Coming out of the break... same deal...into the song. Sure enough, he stuffs up... gets back into it... stuffs up again... nearly lets slip with the f word... I hold my breath.... slowly let it out... there's another announcer in the studio opposite he looks up with the look of "phew... that was close"
Then it happened... Axel lets' fly with f*ck f*ck F*ck in quick succession... a couple of other words... and they get back into the song.
I'm like a deer caught in the headlights... oh my god, I'm dead!! My PD is gonna kill me... how did this get thru and into scheduling... how did I miss those??
My collegue is kinda looking like a deer in the headlights too... then he starts laughing...
So... a million things are going thru my brain ... I let it run, thinking okay... it's scheduled, this is late night, maybe that was the music library's joke... that's probably the worst of it over.
But no!!!!! He stuffs up again... lets fly with 4 more f*cks and a c**t
This time... I pull the song and put on another one.
Now I know I'm dead. I didn't go home after my shift...so I spent the rest of the night literally pacing the floor.. waiting for the PD to turn up... handed him the tape.... and expected to have a live execution there and then. I think he would liked to have done it too... the only saving grace for me, it was actually scheduled on my music log.
It was the best of times , it was the worst of times... what a drug!
I've got many. Probably TOO many. But I'll share this one for now. (NOTE: IF YOU'RE SQUEMISH, YOU MIGHT WANNA SKIP IT).
OK, so as a PD of WRNW in Briarcliff Manor NY back in the early 80's, I hired a P/T jock named Kim. It was her first, or second shift alone on the air one weekend, when I get a call from another jock at the station saying that Kim had VOMITED in the air studio. Another case of late nite booze, and early morning MacDonalds.
I went into the studio, where the other jock was(Kim had gone home), and could still smell that lovely aroma.
That's when I learned that she vomited ALL OVER THE BOARD.
(Good God, couldn't she TURN HER F*&king HEAD???!!!!)
We cleaned the board...with Q-tips and alcohol. Every nook & cranny.
It seemed fine.
Then 2 days later, we cleaned it AGAIN.
The liquid alcohol brought the scent BACK AGAIN.
GROSS-OUT CITY! I swear...this is true. It's too crazy NOT to be!
Yes, of course, it's an early Sunday morning on an AM daytimer (remember those?) that shall remain nameless and after signing on I realize one of the two cart machines (that's all we could afford) isn't working. Nothing. I checked everything, of course, and determine there's no way I'm going to be able to last six hours with just one machine. So I suck it up and call the chief engineer. It's about 6:15 AM. Just like Joe, I get the wife first, then the groggy chief, who wakes up enough to say "I'll be there in a while." Seemed like an eternity, but it was probably 30 minutes. He walks into the studio (I swear he still had his pajama tops on), takes one look at the machine through his half-open eyes, kneels down under the board, plugs the power cord back into the wall, and walks out. Never said a word. In fact, I don't think he ever said a word to me again. Man, I miss those days.
The first type of dream is that I am working for WJBR-FM in Wilmington, DE. Except I've forgotten what TIME my shift is or realize at the last minute that I'm due to be on the air before I could possibly make it to the station.
The other one I have A LOT. I'm working weekends for Boss 97 in Atlantic City, and apparently I've rehired for the umpteenth time after being out of radio for quite some time. Things have changed quite a bit, but nobody bothered to give me a tour or any kind of orientation and I'm just expected to know what the hell I'm doing. I'm always alone, trying desperately to find--like Joe Cipriano--a HIT, specifically, something in the format. Dead air abounds, yet for some reason I never get hotlined and nobody EVER comes in wondering what the deal is.