of my biggest failings is that I have a low threshold for boredom. There seems
to be a pattern that I follow where ever I go. Stage one is when the new job strikes
sheer terror in me because of the uncertainty. Stage two is when I start to get
comfortable and begin to enjoy it. Stage three is when everything is so familiar
that I can't find any excitement anymore. I don't think there is a definite timetable
but I think it took about a year for it to run it course in my first radio job.|
One day as I was thumbing through a trade magazine I read that a new broadcast
facility was being built about 50 miles to the west of my present location in
Louisiana. On a lark I drove over on my day off and chatted with the owner-manager.
We seemed to mesh on ideas and goals and I was hired on the spot. So I packed
my bags and made what was to be the first of many moves in the radio business.
When I reported for duty the station was still under construction. All the employees
pitched in and helped in the technical work of getting the broadcast equipment
ready to go on the air. My knowledge of electronics was practically zero but the
engineer handed me a soldering iron and showed me how to connect a multitude of
wires that made my head swim. Somehow I got the job done. It was really a learning
experience starting from the ground floor like that and seeing our baby grows
into a real, living, breathing radio station.
The little town had never
had a radio station before and they didn't seem to be too excited about getting
one. Everywhere we went trying to drum up advertising revenue we were met with
almost total apathy. People would go to the local newspaper office and wait patiently
in line to buy printed ads. I observed one day as the merchants handed over their
money to a clerk who showed no appreciation whatever for their business. At that
moment I felt that the future of our radio station looked pretty gloomy.
weeks of exhausting work we were finally ready to go on the air. When the transmitter
was turned on and our programming started flowing over our broadcast area it was
exhilaration hard to explain. The phone rang off the wall with well wisher who
acted as if they had never had any negative thoughts about our bold venture. We
all felt that things were taking a turn for the better. Unfortunately, that balloon
burst quickly on our first sales rounds after going on the air. Nearly all the
local merchants still wouldn't budge and continued to trudge down to the local
newspaper to gladly hand over their money to an ungrateful recipient.
Old habits die hard.
from the financial side of the business I really was enjoying my daily broadcast
time. I constantly worked at my craft and worked hard at perfecting it. I would
listen to other announcers in nearby Shreveport and try to learn their techniques.
It took a bit of doing but I would eventually figure out how they were producing
some of the magic I heard on their programs. There was this one fellow who did
voices and that greatly impressed me. He had his imaginary side kick and the banter
between them was very entertaining. I knew I had to do the same. It sounded so
easy but actually doing it was a lot more than I bargained for.
my alter ego would sound like Abner from the old Lum 'n Abner radio show. I named
him Cousin Ed. I practiced at home for hours trying to get the voice changes to
flow smoothly with a minimum of pauses in between. Try as I might, I couldn't
get the natural transition I had hoped for. I finally decided to tape the other
voice while the records were playing and leave pauses for my live voice. This
worked beautifully. Soon the feature caught on and was becoming quite well received.
One day the station manager informed me that I was wearing out our only tape recorder
that way and I would have to do it live or not at all. I was severely dejected
at this edict but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I was now forced
to go back to the drawing board and learn how to do it live. It took weeks of
off-the-air practice but it eventually started to meld. Cousin Ed stayed with
for almost 40 years. Even today, after being out of the broadcast business for
15 years, I still have conversations with him to the amusement of my wife.