Hey Radio, Where’s Your Sense Of Humor?
by POPSIE 1956
Anyone who knows me, even for a short period of time, knows four things about me, in no particular order;
* I am a life long Radio Guy, have been for over 40 years, I’d do it for nothing if I could afford to do so (and considering how successful monetarily I’ve been, I do…..enjoy the veal…)
* I’m a self admitted a**hole who loves to poke the bear.
* I have a strange and bizarre sense of humor, love to laugh, and find amusement in things many others might not notice.
* But above all else, I just LOVE to make people laugh.
In 2015, however, changes in my industry (and not just with my employer) have taken a LOT of the fun away from those of us (still) employed.
Could be a potential for a defamation lawsuit;
Could be the need to have a “professional” product on the air.
Could be everyone wants to just be as PC as possible.
Truth be told, I just HATE those two f*cking letters, always have, always will.
Could be Old Man Grousing, but I miss that air of mystery and suspense of wondering just what might happen on the air next.
Now, I’m not saying New Radio Bad, Old Radio Good, it’s just evolved, some may say devolved, not for me to come up with the answer.
Old School Radio People understand what I’m talking about;
The chance to make the guy On The Air break up, lose it, crap their pants…..be human.
Over these 40 plus years, I’ve had my share of practical jokes pulled on me, as well as giving out some of my own.
Here’s an example of each, for those not in the business, or for those in the business say, less than 10…less than 15…in the last 20 years, this is how it used to be ALL the time.
* The One Given To Me
The year is 1977. I’m between Junior and Senior Year at Ashland College (now University) in the Buckeye State of Ohio, working at my very first radio job for WNCO AM & FM.
This was the BEST time I ever had in my career, for that Summer I covered ALL of the vacation shifts.
Morning Guy out for two weeks, get Mike.
Afternoon Guy out for two weeks, get Mike.
News Guy out for two weeks, well you get the picture.
During my stretch as Fill In News Director, in essence, this writer WAS the News Department, doing ALL of the News Casts (remember, 1977 BC…Before Computers), going on ALL of the News Beats, covering EVERY piddly a** meeting this little College Town had on the schedule.
It was a GREAT learning experience, but even at 21, my a** was dragging, and when I get tired, I laugh and giggle more, and can’t control it as I should.
Picture this; I’m doing the 5 PM News live in one of those REAL Old School studios, like where orchestras used to play in, and where people could walk in an out of, even when someone was on the air, like I was.
Enter the Chief Engineer, a mountain of a man named Larry Levy, a great guy with a great voice, what we would call the Ten Pound Nut Sound.
We called him (and certainly not to his face…and I think he’s dead now so I’m safe)…Larry Heavy, he was a big boy, guessing in the 400-500 pound range.
OK, so as I’m doing the News, Larry walks through the studio, carrying a large…and long..piece of PVC pipe over his shoulder.
I see him in the corner of my eye, for some reason, I find that amusing and a smile comes across my face.
Larry, seeing my smile, starts smiling back…this can’t end well.
All of a sudden, this 400-500 pound man with the large and long piece of pipe TAKES that pipe, puts it between his legs, and simulates an intimate act.
With full emotion.
That’s all brother.
I start laughing, check that, cackling like a hyena in heat.
I’ve seen the video, they really do.
Unfortunately, if memory serves me, the News Story I was reading pertained to a fatal motor vehicle accident.
Pretty sure the family of the deceased were real p*ssed off.
It’s been so long ago, I can’t remember what happened afterward, but I wasn’t fired, and despite my explanation, Larry Heavy denied being involved.
If you saw him, you bet YOUR life you’d believe him, even if you didn’t.
That was the first time I had witnessed this wonderful art of trying to make on air people fall apart, and I had learned from a Master!
* The One Done By Me.
I want to say this was 1988, 1989 or 1990, somewhere in that area. I’m in Albany NY at Top 40 FLY 92, doing Nights as “The Crier of Desire, Shadow Michaels.”
We had a new guy starting who worked for a competing station. His name was (and still is) Mike Flynn, but he’s also known professionally as Jim Steele.
To this day he’s one of my good friends, but there is a difference in the telling of this story between us.
Mike/Jim, on occasion, has asked me to speak to his Radio Class at the Broadcasting School he teaches at in Albany, and often has asked me to relay the following…and if this didn’t scare them off they were certainly quite ready for a career in Radio.
Anyway, this particular night, he’s to do his first show on FLY 92, the (dreaded to some) Graveyard Shift.
He is scared sh*tless, nervous as can be, really wanting to do a good job.
Before I go off the air, we chat some and he says “I’ve heard about you and the jokes you pull on new people, I don’t want you ANYWHERE in this room for my first break.
“Of course” I tell him.
“Bulls*it” I tell myself.
I say goodbye and go into a commercial set, leaving Mike/Jim about four minutes to prepare.
His first break is a live Station ID, and it’s what we in the industry call a donut; a jingle with space in the middle to say what you have to say before the singing starts at the end.
It has to be EXACT, one slip and you’re done.
Mike/Jim thinks I’m gone for the night.
Oh no…..not me.
With fifteen seconds to go to the break, I sneak up to right outside the doorway, Mike/Jim is in Super Concentration Mode, and doesn’t notice me crawling on all fours behind him.
At the stroke of Midnight, the jingle starts…
Here comes the part of the donut to fill.
And here’s where the disagreement comes in.
In my mind, I grab his a**.
In HIS mind, however, I BITE his a**.
To this day, I’m really not sure.
Either way, whether through my hand or my mouth, I can sense Mike’s/Jim’s buttocks tensing up as firmly as the USA and USSR during the height of the Cold War.
But he does the break flawlessly.
He turns off the microphone and starts spewing off a slew of profanity that would shame a sailor, a trucker, or a cast member from “Deadwood,” at which point I reach out, shake his hand, and say “Welcome to FLY 92.”
And we’ve been f*cking with each other since then.
God how I miss that.
It may not happen, but before I turn off the microphone for good, I want to experience that one last time.
And when I do, I promise you this…..
I won’t be wearing pants.