About 65 years ago I was in a Broadcast Radio Class at a Technical High School in my hometown of good ol’ Omaha, Nebraska. In Nebraska, this was new state of the art technology. As part of the class, I interned at a local Christian Radio station where I pulled weather forcasts off the telegraph machine. The machine stood about 3 feet off the ground and was wired thru telephone cables to a weather company.
The whole machine would shake as the weather came in, chip, chip, chip, chipin’ away as the weather was telegraphed too us. This was before dot matrix machines existed, so it was big and noisy with an old timey typewriter thing that chiped each letter. I would eagerly await the forcast and rip the paper from the machine and run to the broadcast studio to deliver the latest weather to the DJ. Then, I would take out the garbage and other important tasks, as I was basically a free janitor.
One day the morning DJ, Vernon, offered to let me actually read the weather forcast on-air! I was nervous, but I stumbled thru it. Actually, there was no need to be nervous sine Omaha at the time only had about 2000 residents and only half of them owned radios. Even less had TV’s. In fact, at that time most of us still had outhouses and had to risk our lives walking thru grass with rattlers everytime we went to the bathrooom.
As the week passed, Vernon let me go on air more and more, then he convinced our program director to let me go on air live for a half hour each day. The request was approved as long as it didn’t interfear with my weather and janitor duties.
It just so happend that at that time the company that owned the radio station was going to be sold. The Christian AM station was being sold to one company from Indianapolis (WNTS where David Letterman got his start). The FM station that played funky soul music for funky soul brothers, was being sold to another company that wanted the FM frequency for KYNN, our country cousin, which played…you guessed it, country music.
So it turns out, that when word gets out your gonna loose your job, people start getting new jobs. And as luck would have it the 6 to midnight DJ quite on the spot with no notice. That morning, Vernon who was always nice to me, told me I should apply.
I was hesitant, insecure, and positive I would never get the job ’cause I was just a kid. Then Vernon said I could use him as a reference and he would vouch that I knew how to operate an on air shift.
He explained, “They’re desprate Bob, they need someone to fill in the shift tonight…TONIGHT! they got nobody, plus they’re all loosing their jobs in a month, so they really don’t care who they get. It’s a perfect opportunity to get a real broadcasting job under your belt.”
I thought about it, “I guess it would be a pretty good opportunity if they gave me the job.”
“Go, go now. The managers in, and he needs someone now! Go-Go-Now!”
“I don’t even have a demo tape or a resume.” I stammered nervously at the prospect.
“You don’t need one…go, go now!’
So I did, I went to the managers office and said I would like the new position and I have been on the air live and Vernon can vouch for that.
“The FM station is automated, do you know how to opperate the automation machine?” He asked, he almost looked relieved that he had someone to fill the shift. At that time, automation just meant that all the music was on big reel to reels, that you put on and let them run. Then you cut in once in a while and gave the weather. Not too technical by today’s standards.
“No, not really.” I was shure this was the nail in the coffin.
“Well, you can learn. Can you make it in tonight at five?”
“Your hired, be here at five and John will train you how to use the automation.”
“Ok, I’ll be here at five.” I was stunned and just stood there for an uncomfortable amount of time, not knowing what to say or do.
“Ok…you can go now.” He said as he started looking thru some papers.
I heard a hundred “I told you so’s…” from Vernon. He kept laughing and saying, “I told you so…”
Then he asked, “So what are they paying you?”
“I don’t know. I forgot to ask.” I explained.
“Probably minimum wage, but you got the job! I told you…!”
AND NOW YOU KNOW!
Coming Next: The All Nighter…
Song in my head:
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