Let’s face it; I was too cocky. I made it through the winter without catching anything. As old man winter departed the state I gave him a high five and said “Better luck next time! See ya, sucker!”
I should have remembered that “Pride goes before a fall!” Something has been going around town for a month or so and it finally knocked on my door last Wednesday evening and said “Here I Am!”
I wasn’t sure that something was going on Thursday morning, so I went to work and pretty much isolated myself from my co-workers. By the time I went home I was pretty sure that I was coming down with a summer cold.
Friday afternoon, I needed to record a show that runs on Radio Tatras International located in Poprad Slovakia. RTI-FM is an English speaking station operated by some of the most famous voices in Europe. So I sat down in the air chair and cranked out a pretty decent show despite being a little groggy. Yesterday, was the same for my three hour live show on my own station; Our Generation Radio. Other than that it has been mostly Aleve, Benadryl and my easy chair. I missed out on two events so as not to infect anyone else. In retrospect, I should not have gone to work on Thursday morning. My only defense was that I was not sure that I was coming down with a summer cold. I’ll know better next time.
Today I’m glad to report that I am Naproxen free and feeling decent.
Left: a typical "Air Chair" of the day WPDQ Jacksonville circa 1968 When I sat down to write this blog, of course this cold was foremost on my mind. Flashing through my memory were those times back in the day, when I worked on the air with a cold, sore throat and even hoarseness. We didn’t have the luxury of letting the automation run the station while we lay in bed. There had to be a live DJ in the station to play the music and run the transmitter. If things were really bad, we could call the boss and he would get a part timer to come in and cover our shifts.
So, a box of Kleenex was added to the cluster of records, carts, copy and logs on the console desk. During the course of the show the trash can under the cart machine was filled with a toxic mess of tissue paper. While the records played we would fold our arms on the desk and lay our heads on them. I was very lucky in that I never fell asleep but some of my co-workers did. But we were all so attuned to the primary rule of no dead air allowed that the first hint of silence at the end of a record shocked us awake. This explains some of the goofy comments that went on the air back in those days. Well, some of them at least. The others were a result of wacky DJs working in wacky times.
As you can imagine; with all of us working on the same console, touching the same knobs and switches, handling the same records and carts and working close to that RCA 77-D Microphone that we shared colds each year. The first DJ to come down with a cold came in to the station with a big bottle of Lysol. Each DJ sprayed and wiped everything down while the first record was playing. The biggest problem was the records themselves as it was possible to ruin one with too Lysol and there were so many to clean. The next biggest was the RCA 77-D as it was possible to spray Lysol through the grill of the microphone case and coat the sensitive ribbon inside. That could negatively affect the sound of the microphone.
Indeed, I came into possession of a pair of those RCA 77-D microphones that we used at WCOS. When I rebuilt them, I discovered stains on the “innards” that smelled like Lysol when I cleaned them. Fortunately, from what I could tell, Lysol was the only thing that penetrated the screen.
One of the other things that made it possible to do a show with a cold was the fact that the consoles in those old studios were at standard desk height and sported a real “Air Chair” which was usually a standard office chair of the day. As crude as that seem by today’s standards; in my opinion; those studios were much better than the “stand up” studios that we have in most stations these days. It seems that during the 70s some bright consultant came up with the idea that DJs sounded better when they were standing rather than sitting. You couldn’t prove that by me. WUSC-FM has a stand up studio and I have tried standing while on the air. Listening to the show playback, I can’t tell the difference between when I was standing and when I was sitting on the bar stool kept in the studio for old guys like me.
Come to think of it, I have never been in a “stand up” studio that did not have a bar stool in it. And rarely do I see a DJ who is not seated on that stool while announcing. Before you say, “Wait a minute, Broadway Bill Lee stands up at WKTU in New York and JoJo Cookin' Kincaid rocked San Diego from Q-106 on his feet”, I stipulate that they did, but if you look carefully at the videos of these guys, I do believe that you will spot a bar stool behind them somewhere. Additionally, those guys pull air shifts much shorter than the ones we used to do. Five or six hours were the norm, not the exception.
So you can count on me doing the DJACBB (DJ Air Chair Behind Boogie) on the nicely padded bar stool at WUSC-FM tomorrow. I can do stand up radio but I’m much more comfortable with my groove thing firmly in contact with the air chair. So I’ll see you cool cats and hot kitties at 9 AM in the morning. Oh MY!