Are you listening?
Hello? Can anybody hear me?
Um, no, they could not and it was my first day on the job as a radio DJ on a rock station. I was “live” on the air and no one could hear a word I was saying.
There was one particular station I listened to on most days (not the one I eventually worked for). I loved the afternoon Jock…literally, but no one really knew that at the time, including me. I have since written about him, but let’s get back to the story…
I had made friends with several people at the station including the new [to that market] morning show host Bob Madden [he is now on 101.3 FM aka KATY]. He was a riot and when I asked him what I needed to do to be a radio DJ he basically told me going to school yadda yadda would be a waste of time and money and invited me down to the station during after-hours to teach me how to use the equipment.
Of course I took him up on it. I would also like to mention that there was NO hanky-panky going on between us. We had simply become friends and are still friends to this day.
I had no formal training, but I did have a wild hair up my ass worth pursuing so I pursued. This man taught me everything I needed to know to make a demo tape for the broadcast group. Little did I know I would essentially be snubbed for the better part of a year before I got, “the call” and who could have known it would be a combination of unusual events that would galvanize the powers that be to give me a chance.
The GM of the broadcast group finally called me. They needed help because several of the air-staff had come down ill all at the same time and there was a huge multi-station event getting ready to go down. They needed someone in-studio to not only run the board, but to also crack the mic and introduce and banter with air-staff that was live on location as they checked in during their remote broadcasts.
This meant I was to turn the mic on, introduce myself, mention the station name and call letters, introduce the DJ that was calling in, let them talk, then wrap up the call and get back to the music.
Easy enough right?
I did mention I had no formal training right?
Although my morning show buddy had taught me how to use the equipment in the production room, no one had really taught me how to use the studio stuff. In fact, I had never even been in the actual studio up to that point.
Rowdy — the program director at the time, was also new to the station and had taken a whopping 5-minutes to show me around the studio I would be using and go over the “log” with me (I didn’t even know what a log was) so I would know what time the varied Jocks would be calling in. He did all of this on the morning I was to go live for the first time…the morning of this huge station remote and he did it right before he and everyone else left to go to their locations.
I should mention, he repeatedly said I was to use”mic 1″ and showed me where to find it on the board. What he didn’t do is show me which of the actual microphones in the studio was “mic 1″…
Everything was going smooth. Music was playing, the Jocks were all stationed around town and I was feeling relatively comfortable alone in the studio although I was nervous about going live on the air. To add to the pressure, the first Jock that would be calling in was THE Jock…you know which one I mean…my heart was starting to race a little.
I kept looking at the clock, the log and the board. Rowdy — the program director, had even left me a note on the white board in the studio to remind me to, “Use mic 1!!!”.
Time seemed to go really slow. I later learned, in radio, you can accomplish a lot in 60-seconds.
Anyways, I was sure I could do this. I was anxious and just wanted to get from point “A” to point “B” so I could prove to these people I had what it takes to be a DJ.
As I counted down the last few seconds before I went live for the first time, I adjusted my headphones and the height of “mic 1”, took a few deep calming breaths, felt my heart fly out of my chest and then all of a sudden it was show time.
I hit the “on” button and slid the volume lever up…
I said the station name and the call letters…
I told the listeners we were going live to “Preston Stone” from Blockbuster Video who was out fingerprinting kids for safety…
I slid the sound lever up up on the call…
I said “Hi” to Preston and asked how it was going…
I could hear him! Great! It was working, or so I thought…
I was excited! Everything was going according to plan, except that he could barely hear me and it wasn’t just him, it was every listener of the station. I sounded like I was very far away and whispering.
After the calls were over and I went back to music a couple of the Jocks called me to see if we could figure out what the sound issue was.
“Are you using mic 1?” they all asked…
“Yes, I am” I’d respond.
How did I know? Well because there was a sticker on the board that said “mic 1” and that is the lever I was podding up. So yes, absolutely I had “mic 1” on, no question.
Unfortunately, the rest of the event continued like that. No one could figure out what was wrong with the sound in the studio.
It wasn’t until everyone got back to the station that they discovered that although I had “mic 1” turned on, I had actually been talking into “mic 2” which was several feet away!
Have you ever done any broadcast work or public speaking?