Doug Haslam: Gischeleman’s Blog

March 21, 2007

Radio Days, Part 1

Filed under: public radio, radio — doughaslam @ 8:50 pm

I used to work in public radio, and lately have been thinking about some of the things that happened while I was there. The stories are gradually coming back into mind: the opera singer who had a new dirty joke every night, the guy who mooned the Car Talk guys while they were on the air live; the “bathroom philosophy” memo; classical announcers packing heat; and any number of minor incidents that are hilarious to me, but may not be as interesting to you.

I still have a copy of the bathroom memo, but I’ll dedicate that to another post. This one is somewhat related; one of a series of events that led up to the memo, and the need for a “bathroom philosophy.”

The radio station as configured when I worked overnights (late 1980’s to early 1990’s) had the men’s room outside the front door in the hallway, while the women’s room was inside. That meant that the evening classical announcers and any other off-hours male workers needed to make sure they could get back in the station if they needed to go to the bathroom. Of course, things didn’t always work out.

Most of the classical announcers were part-time, and were not granted keys. That was a problem for the men, so they would rig the door to stay open. But if they forgot, or someone else closed the door–problem. Sometimes they were lucky and someone (maybe me) was already in getting ready for the overnight and could let them back in. Sometimes, it was panic time.

One evening, preparing for my overnight shift, I was walking towards the studio building form the local convenience store when a blur rushed past me. On a college campus at 11:30 in the evening, that was not so unusual. This blur stopped behind me and ran back– that made me nervous. Then I realized it was an out-of-breath Larry, the classical announcer.

“Oh, thank God it’s you. I was running to call you. I locked myself out and the record’s going to end.”

Trying not to roll my eyes at my elder, I ran with him full speed back to the station (a good city block or so), up three flights of stairs, and into the studio, where the needle was against the end of the record, “k-shhk, k-shhk, k-shhk,” and had probably been doing so for a good five to ten minutes.

If you ever were a DJ in the vinyl era, you had that nightmare– the needle that wouldn’t go on the record, the record that ended and wouldn’t change, basically the radio equivalent of not being able to start the car when the serial killer was chasing you. Well, this was real life, and it made me laugh.

As I said, similar incidents led to the new “bathroom philosophy,” and I’ll get to that in another post.

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