Dead Air

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was fascinated with radios as a child.  Although I am experimenting with podcasts in the car, I usually listen to the radio.  I switch the stations around based on whatever I like – or don’t like.  Mistakes catch my ear, especially dead air.  I recognize them, because I made many of them as a DJ myself.

This is the last turntable my family has – we might fire it up at Christmas. But back when I was a rookie deejay on the radio, we had two turntables, and that’s how we aired most of our music.

At age 8, I was invited as a Cub Scout to speak for a Public Service Announcement at a local radio station in Danville.  That was the beginning of a long-term love affair with all things radio.  My mom was so proud, and I enjoyed the fame.  But the experience of speaking into a microphone was something that wowed me for some reason.

Later I would spend time recording my voice as though I was a radio announcer.  I got speaking parts in church programs.  I won a contest at the local rock station; the prize – I got to be the DJ for one hour on a Sunday night.  In college, I didn’t have much time for radio, but I did know a relative of a friend who programmed for the college station.  I got to do the weather once.  It sounded good.  One dormmate thought I was a professional.

I wasn’t fooled into thinking I was that great, but I ended up getting the first radio position I ever applied for – part time DJ at the station owned by the seminary.  Hosting several nights a week, I got about 15 hours of airtime and was able to keep up with my studies.  I got more involved with the station and later went on full-time: writing PSAs, producing recorded commercials, hosting the morning show, and emceeing concert artists that came to town.

This full-time radio position had me coming in at 5:30 am.  As a twenty-something who thought he could stay up all hours and get up whenever he needed to…that was difficult.  I found myself being sleepy all the time.  Classes, driving home in the afternoon, even the tasks of the job became difficult.  I had no idea that I might be suffering from a sleep disorder, or two, or three.

Back in the late eighties, this small Christian pop station had very little that was automatic.  I worked with vinyl LPs most of the time.  One morning I got a phone call from the boss wanting to know what was wrong with the signal.  Uh…the signal was fine, but I had fallen asleep during a song and voila, dead air.  I was so embarrassed.  Fortunately, I had the next song cued up and the world did not end.  But I knew that I was going to have to stand up, or get a drink, and begin doing something to make sure that didn’t happen again.

The boss still married me!  But then she had to begin figuring out what my sleep disorders were all about.  I’ve tried dipping my toe back into radio a few times since then.  It’s a tight market and starting at the bottom would not work for my family’s needs.  Maybe one day, I’ll get to be back in live radio.  But for today, I’ll enjoy listening to others on my Mini’s radio, and I’ll stick to other media forms (like blogging).  Keep shiftin’.

#turntables #ASD #deadair #autism

Published by Bart Shoaf

Blogging about victories and challenges as a middle-aged man with a late diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

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