That Girl’s Got Some Pipes on Her.

Jack is still in the hospital, slated to be there till tomorrow at the earliest.  He’s currently undergoing an endoscopy and a colonoscopy and we hope some answers come to light soon.  Also, everyone is very, very tired.

I could try and come up with some new material, but the above italics should indicate that I just don’t have it in me right now.  We’re kind of at the point now where everything revolves around hospital shifts, taking care of that other kid, and committments that are closing in on us that we can no longer push off.  This is to say: this doesn’t feel like living, currently.

SO LET’S TALK ABOUT WHEN I WAS IN RADIO!

Yes, about a million years ago, I was in radio.  It started because I wanted to be a news anchor, but they want you to have an EDUCATION for that (… which is hard to tell if you watch local news), and radio?  Radio will hire any one with a voice.  TA DA!  I have a voice!  I can talk fast, even!

I was 18?  19?  When I heard the local night anchor grasping at straws one night, trying to get any sort of content going.  So I did what any red-blooded woman would do: I called him and flirted with him on the air.  He liked that I was quick, and I do have an okay “radio voice”, so he asked me to intern.

 

I’m Intern Diva down there in the bottom right hand corner, with the Barenaked Ladies.  For my first famous people to meet in the industry, the lead singer (the one who is currently still with the band) was a giant douche.  The singer with the glasses was SO SWEET, though.

Anyway, so I interned for a year or so, doing stupid intern shit like riding a donkey for a basketball game (.. yes, donkey basketball is a thing here), trying to drink a gallon of milk on air in thirty minutes (SURPRISE, HAHAHA, YOU CAN’T!), and pranking anyone who would answer the phone.  It was glamorous work.

I “moved up” to having my own steady shift (overnights) when I was asked to move to a group in Louisiana and be their Music Director as well as midday shift jock. (We’re called “jocks”.  You ever want to insult an on-air dj, call them a “liner jock” – it means they only read shit and can’t come up with their own discussion.)

All in all, I spent close to four years in radio, which is an eternity in that industry.  The most I ever made was $19K a year and I was never offered medical insurance.  And that?  Is why I am no longer part of it.

Favorite Stories:

The Program Director (that’s the boss of that particular station, and they answer to the Owner) for my station in Louisiana had this REALLY AWESOME IDEA to do a “Turkey Drop” as a promotion.  We were going up in a hot-air balloon and dropping 1,000 turkeys from .. I dunno, balloon height?  The turkeys would be numbered and then we’d do a drawing.  Winning Number of Winning Turkey would get $5,000.

Read that a couple of times. (You may remember this as a stunt on WKRP in Cincinnati.  He lucked out that we were all too young to realize he had ripped this off.) Of course, the gag of this is that these are the turkeys we were going to throw:

That is, obviously, not a real, live turkey.  But as part of the promotion, we were of course forbidden to clarify to our listeners.  Sooooo .. PETA was involved, people were going insane over this, and it kind of spiraled out of control. (I often told listeners that we would never do anything as cruel as throw live turkeys.  OBVIOUSLY, THEY WOULD BE FROZEN BUTTERBALLS.)(This probably did not help.)

The day of the giveaway, which was being held in our local mall parking lot, the weather was bad.  It was far too windy to take up a hot-air balloon.  So we rented a cherry picker, which obviously gave away some of the questioning about the live turkey aspect since you’re space-limited.  Nevertheless, we had about two dozen picketers from PETA. 

And about 3,000 locals to catch turkeys.

So here’s the picture.  It’s really, really windy.  These are PAPER turkeys.  And there are 3K folks who are gunning for that $5K prize.  This is a poor town; that’s a LOT of money. 

Our Program Director called in sick that day, not even shitting you.

So Jen, his morning show co-host, and I are in the station van.  The night jock is up on the cherry picker and he released the turkeys.  PEOPLE WENT APESHIT.  Three broken legs, tons of concussions, and a stampede of massive proportions.  No collaborations had been made with local law enforcement, so there was no control.  It was awful.  Jen and I retreated to the station van with a quickness, WHERE THEY STARTED TO ROCK AND TRIED TO TIP OVER THE VEHICLE.

Yeah.  That was good times.

Also, that Program Director later called me a whore in a staff meeting.  So he was A WINNER. (Huntsville locals – you probably have heard him on-air.  He did mornings here for awhile.)

I have interviewed Judge Joe Brown, who was my favorite interviewee, and had a personal friendship with Vince Vance, who is a Louisiana legend – mostly for his hair.

And yes – I was on-air during 9/11.  I was drying my hair when the first plane hit, and was at the station by the time the second plane hit.  I was asked to take-over when that same Program Director started saying “It looks like Armageddon” on-air.  You can’t say that in a religious town.  We had people thinking it was, in fact, the End of Days.

I spent eight or nine hours on-air that day, and thirteen hours the next as we opened phone lines to take calls from locals.  I sincerely think that being on-air is the only way I could’ve gotten through that tragic time; I felt useful, felt like I was doing something, helping folks.  I talked to tons of locals who were depending on my voice to tell them what was going on as schools were locked down and businesses closed doors.  And – also – I love being a news anchor.  I’m a newshound at heart.  It was a good fit.

I learned a lot about myself in radio, both good and bad.  And it’s taught me a LOT of life skills – how to write a concise message for a :15 spot, for example.  You have fifteen seconds to get across your message – GO.  I learned how to deal with people who were complete strangers, but felt that they KNEW you.  There is a good and bad side to that assumed familiarity.  I learned the value of hard work, and I learned to stand up for myself when I was being treated unfairly.

I also learned that I don’t like Hennessy and how to spot good weed, but that’s not really a life skill.  Anymore.

Now, I do local spots for local businesses and it’s decent side money.  It’s an appreciated skill that I can walk in, take a script, do two takes, and give them a good product.  Time vs money, I get paid very well to do it.  And it reminds me of my first love, the one that stroked my ego and made me more sure of myself than I ever had been before.

Admittedly, I do miss it from time to time.  Then I go see a doctor and pay a copay and am like, NAAHHH.

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6 Responses to That Girl’s Got Some Pipes on Her.

  1. Linnea September 1, 2011 at 1:16 pm #

    Yeah, my actual degree is in Radio Television Broadcast Journalism. I spent most of college on the air (it was required for one of our classes, then I just sort of stuck around), and did a year in TV news (production, not on air) doing the early morning & midday shows right after graduation.

    Not knocking your passion at all, but I hated news. Hated it. I lived in a very safe, quiet, wonderful town, and even doing the midday show where we got to showcase dogs for adoption and fun new recipes to try with your kids, the morning show would have the public believing we lived in the worst hood of NYC– a lot of that has to do with the kind of station the producer promotes, but… I left very burnt out & jaded.

    I can’t listen to tapes of myself on air, because I do not have the voice for it, but I loved having access to all that new music. I miss THAT most of all.

  2. Becca September 1, 2011 at 2:40 pm #

    I’m dying to know what local business you have worked for. I want to know if I’ve heard your voice!

  3. Michelle Smiles September 1, 2011 at 6:31 pm #

    “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.” My dad quoted that episode of WKRP every Thanksgiving.

    Wow – 9/11 on air must have been intense.

    Sounds like an unforgettable experience.

  4. TwoBusy September 2, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

    1. Saw your tweet/news about Jack — that’s terrific. Very hopeful the meds do the trick.

    2. I’m… fascinated. UTTERLY, completely, relentlessly fascinated by the Vince Vance hair.

    3. Your old program director deserves a kick in the groin. Several, actually.

  5. nanette September 4, 2011 at 5:22 pm #

    So interesting!

    That BNL info makes me a little sad, though. I’d always heard that Steve (with the glasses) was the ass. I’d thought Ed was sweet. That’s too bad.

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