Sunday, May 21, 2017

Razor Blade Editing

Boy, all of a sudden I feel old and out of touch. When I Googled “razor blade editing” to see if I could find a picture that described the method that we used to edit audio tape back in the day, I was greeted by a bunch of references to laptops and other gaming technologies. Somewhere near the bottom of the page completely overwhelmed by all this other stuff was an article containing a picture that I wanted to show in this story.

Back in the world of 45 RPM records, reel to reel tapes and AM radio, firmly attached near the head cover of every AMPEX 351 reel to reel audio tape recorder in our production studio was an aluminum editing block. These blocks were about four inches long and had a groove on the face that was the perfect width and depth to hold ¼” audio tape. The edit point on the block was defined by a deep groove across the face of the block and the tape groove. This deeper groove was for the razor blade. It looked much like a carpenter’s miter box with a straight razor blade groove and one that was angled at 45 degrees. This is where the real magic in the production studio happened. The production DJ would find the exact place on the audio tape where he or she wanted to begin the edit, mark it with a grease pencil as it sat on the recorder’s playback head, roll the tape forward until the end point of the edit was found, and mark also it with the grease pencil.

Next, the tape would be lifted out of the heads and placed on the edit block and the grease pencil mark placed on the block at the edit point. Then the razor blade was used to cut the tape at the pencil mark. The tape from the left reel would be rolled off until the end point was located and the same thing was done. Finally the two ends were matched in the block and a small strip of translucent white plastic adhesive tape was used to connect the two halves together. Once the razor blade was used to trim off the extra adhesive tape, voila, the edit was done.

The earliest edit blocks had only one razor groove, perpendicular to the tape groove, but some genius figured out that you could eliminate the slightly audible pop by making the edit at 45 degrees instead. After that, only novices used the perpendicular groove. It was slightly harder to match up the 45 degree cuts on the tape. Needless to say, once a piece of tape was edited, it could not be used to record something new. So once the recorded announcement was completed, the edit tape was discarded into the grey metal trash can under the production console. We went through a lot of tape that way.

Once the vocal part of the announcement was completed, it was time to put music under it. There was a large collection of 33 1/3 RPM records in the production library that was designated for production only. These packages were purchased from various companies that provided music licensed for radio or television production. The voice track and the production music was mixed together and recorded onto another reel of tape and that became the “master tape” for that announcement. The master tape was then dubbed onto a cartridge tape which was placed in the on air studio for airplay. We never threw away those master tapes, they were stored either in the production studio or in the sales offices in case the on air cartridge was damaged or lost. This was a good thing too because sometimes a sponsor will ask that we use last year’s commercial long after its on air run was completed.

One had to be very careful when editing not to cut off something that was needed. If that happened, you had to go back and re-record the original piece and start all over again. Usually this followed the utterance of some choice words.

So you might think that making commercials was clean and neat, but the reality was something quite different. There were bits and pieces of tape, wrinkled up paper containing marked up copy, grease pencil smudges and the occasional spot of blood on the hands and equipment. More often than not, I’d emerge from an editing session with a grease pencil stain in my left sideburn from sticking the pencil over my left ear in order to keep track of it. That sucker would roll off a table top or the face of a self standing Ampex 351 in a skinny minute. It was definitely not work to be done in a white shirt.

But alas, like manual film editing, razor blade editing is one of those skills that has been replaced by modern technology. Electronic editors such as Adobe Audition (formerly Cool Edit) and Audacity have replaced the old grease pencil and razor blade. I’ll admit it is faster, cleaner and most importantly has an “undo” function on the pull down menus. You can do so much more with the new stuff but somehow it doesn’t have the satisfaction of doing it “the old fashioned way.” Lord, am I becoming a Luddite! Well, not really.

So, when I sit down at my computer, click on Adobe Audition and begin to work on a spot announcement or a liner, I remember that production room perfume of audio tape, grease pencil and the lubrication of the reel to reel motors of that old Ampex 351. I am glad that there are no smudges of grease pencil, strips of audio tape and the occasional bloody finger to deal with. Change is good! Oh MY!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

A Ferry Ride

Every time I listen to that great 1965 British Invasion song “Ferry ‘Cross the Mersey” by Gerry and The Pacemakers I think of some of my happiest times growing up. Near the mouth of the St. Johns River, east of Jacksonville there is a gem of history that still lives today. The St. Johns River Ferry is a car and passenger ferry that connects the north and south ends of Florida State Road A1A in Duval County, linking Mayport Village and Fort George Island via a pleasant sail across the St. Johns River.

Left: The current ferry the Jean Ribault, does not have the upper deck that it did in my youth. In this fast paced world, most travelers miss that nearly one mile voyage across the St. Johns River because the ferry takes 15 minutes to load up the waiting cars on one shore, cross the river and unload on the other side. So the wait to board the ferry could be as long as a half hour. I must admit that it has been fifty years since I have crossed the river on that ferry. But I remember the last time like it was yesterday.

Just getting to the south landing of the ferry was a joy for me, because Highway A1A wound its way past Chicopit Bay, around the southwest end of Runway 5 – 23 at Mayport Naval Station, and if I was lucky there would be a mass takeoff or landing of a carrier air group as one of the big carriers was approaching or leaving port. During the cold war, it was common for all the planes to fly to the base while the carrier was docked. The reason for that is that planes cannot land or take off while the carrier is in port and they needed to be ready at all times to fly in defense of our country. Most of the planes were jets but there were a few propeller driven aircraft serving out the end of their military careers. Regardless it was a thrill for an aviation oriented kid to see that S2F, Douglas A-1 (AD) Skyraider. But If I was lucky enough to see one of the new McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantoms, my day was made. For a jet fighter, that baby was huge and had a double engine roar to match.

While waiting in the parking lot to board the ferry, I had a great vantage point just northwest of the middle of the runway to observe across the village the air operations at the Naval Station. That half hour wait flew past and it was time for Dad to crank up the car and drive across the ramp onto the big platform of the ferry. Back in those days, the ferry had an observation deck complete with benches above the automobile deck so as soon as it was safe, we would be out of the car and up on the deck ready for the crossing. There was no way I was going to stay seated on a bench, I was immediately at the rail watching the deck crew unhook the huge rope hawsers and mooring lines so that the pier crews could haul them in and prepare for the next crossing.

Next would come a big puff of diesel smoke from the ferry’s stacks and we would be on our way with a blast from the ship’s horn. The ever present pelicans and seagulls would rocket into the air from their perches on the rugged wooden pilings at the edge of the docs. It was feeding time as many passengers would eat a picnic lunch during the crossing. It was glorious, a bright sun in the windswept blue sky. The smell of salt air and sawgrass mixed with the sweet and savory perfumes of the mustard laden sandwiches, chips, cookies and the Cokes, Pepsis and the occasional Orange Crush.

As soon as the ferry cleared the dock, it would make a 45 degree turn to the left (port to all the sailors out there) to make its way up river to the northern terminal which was actually almost due west of the terminal we just left. If we were really lucky that day there would be a freighter or a tanker making its way out of the port of Jacksonville and we would have to navigate around it, adding up to five minutes to the journey.

Before long, the other landing would be in sight and the Ferry Captain would sound that big horn again as he turned the ship to the right (starboard, I know) to line up with the docs and carefully kiss the loading dock with the bow of the ship and hold it there while the deck crews placed the hawsers and mooring lines on their respective mooring posts on deck and winch them in tight to lock the ferry to the shore.

Next the ramp would be swung out to the lip of the deck and be secured. And just like that it was all over. Everyone climbed down the stairs to the car deck, packed up their picnic lunches and drove off onto the northern end of A1A at Clapboard Creek. For us, it was a short trip up to the beach on Little Talbot Island for the afternoon, or if we were just out for a Sunday drive, a long drive back to Jacksonville via Hecksher Drive. The expressway didn’t go out that way very far. The construction of I-95 was not compete so it was mostly surface roads back to downtown and then over the viaduct to Riverside and Lake Shore. Sitting here some 275 miles from Mayport and 120 miles from the Atlantic, I can still feel the sea breeze, see the seagull circling around in the sunlight, hear his cries and the sounds of the harbor and smell the mustard and sea air. Oh MY!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Running Down the River

If you find yourself watching a Jacksonville Jaguars home game from EverBank Field on TV, you may notice that the end zone camera shot from the north end of the field shows another football stadium in a sports complex across the St. Johns River. That complex is part of my High School Alma Mater; Bishop Kenny. Included in that complex are two baseball/softball diamonds and a bevy of tennis courts. In fact, my old school looks more like a community college campus these days than a high school.

But all those years ago, when I was roaming the halls of the two story brick buildings that made up the boys school, that sports complex with the incredible vista of the river and downtown Jacksonville was not yet a gleam in Monsignor’s eye. It was all a dense copse of palmettos, and live oaks draped over with Spanish moss. Near the perimeter of these woods there was a trail carved through the undergrowth. This was part of a one mile cross-country course used in the fall by our distance runners. We would run the course twice in order to meet the two mile requirement for a cross-country race. The section of the course that ran through the woods was nearly half the length of the entire path.

I must admit that was my favorite part of the school grounds. And part of the property that only a small part of the student body, the cross-country team, got to enjoy. Most of the time the view from the riverside part of the course was blocked by ships parked at the edge of the river waiting for their turn at the docks to be unloaded and then reloaded for their next voyage. From time to time, we would exchange greetings with sailors working on the ships as they lay at anchor. Usually, the sailors were chipping old paint off the sides of the ship and re-painting them. In the hot humid North Florida air of early fall, that didn’t strike me as a lot of fun. I’m sure the sailors thought that my teammates and I were a bit off plumb for running two miles in that heat.

Left: They are more colorful these days but you can see the 3/4 inch spikes on these track shoes. Reading this, you are probably figuring out why, despite lettering in track and cross county, I was never a star on the teams. I spent too much time worrying about those sailors and not enough in keeping up the pace. To make matters worse, given the right opportunity I could be pretty clumsy. Track and cross-country teams wore spiked running shoes. When running on gravel tracks, the most common running surface, the spikes were ¼ inch long. But for cross country, we used ¾ inch long spikes. This was great for most courses which were mainly grass or open fields but not so good for our course. There were big old live oak roots lying in wait underneath the veneer of brown leaves that made the bed of the course that wound through the woods. After running the course so many times, each of us got to know where those roots were and how to avoid them. But one had to pay attention. Sure enough, one fine day near the end of my sophomore season, on the second time around the course, back down by the riverside I was paying too much attention to what the sailors were doing and not enough to my running. Wham! My spikes on my right shoe bit deeply into that live oak root. Moments later I lay sprawled out on the course three feet down track from my shoe, which was still firmly attached to the root. As I freed my shoe and laced it back up onto my foot, I thought, “Geez, this is not gonna help my time for the course.” As I approached the finish line, Coach Parete eyeballed the stopwatch in his hand and yelled; “This is a new worst time, even for you, Wrigley!” Then he spotted my skinned elbows and knees. He shook his head and muttered that we wouldn’t be counting this run into my practice times.

Probably through Devine intervention, Coach did not cut me from the team and the next year, I made the traveling track team that competed in the Florida Relays in Gainesville. The Florida Relays are still being run annually with both high school and college. They are a bit bigger now than they were then.

By the time my senior year arrived, I was asked to be the Drum Major for the first marching band in school history. Of course, I was told that if I were to take that on, I would have to give up track and cross country. That was a no-brainer for me, be a mediocre track and cross country runner or be the drum major. No contest! I traded my track shoes and my trumpet for a baton, a place out front and a podium.

Left: The first Bishop Kenny Marching Band. And this is where things come full circle. As I mentioned that our high school did not have a football stadium at the time. Because we did not have our own stadium, many of our home games were played at the Gator Bowl Stadium. There were two major collegiate games played in that stadium back in those days; the Florida – Georgia Game (still played there) and the Gator Bowl itself. Now that the NFL has come to Jacksonville, the Gator Bowl Stadium has gone through several renovations and name changes. It is now EverBank Field. Whenever I watch a game from there, and see my Alma Mater through that end-zone camera shot, I remember all those riverside runs past the ships and the sailors chipping paint. It is no wonder than when it was time for me to choose the service I was going to join, it was the Navy. By the way, I never got to chip paint. Oh MY!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Playing the Top of the Pops and The Cream of the Crop - April 1, 1961

As I sat down to write this week, a countdown show was just starting on the radio. As I was listening to the countdown to the number one song, I was reminded of just how many genres were represented. Just look at the countdown # 24. Adam Wade - Take Good Care Of Her, # 23. Lawrence Welk – Calcutta, # 22. Cathy Jean And The Roommates - Please Love Me Forever, # 21. Del Shannon – Runaway, # 20. Johnny Maestro - Model Girl, # 19. Buzz Clifford - Baby Sittin' Boogie, # 18. Johnny Burnette - Little Boy Sad, # 17. Clarence 'Frogman' Henry - I Don't Know Why (But I Do), # 16. Ben E. King - Spanish Harlem, # 15. Kokomo - Asia Minor, # 14. Bobby Darrin - Lazy River, # 13. The Everly Brothers - Ebony Eyes, # 12. Brook Benton - Think Twice, # 11 .Floyd Cramer - On The Rebound, # 10. Carla Thomas - Gee Whiz (Look At His Eyes), # 9. Connie Francis - Where The Boys Are, # 8. String-A-Longs – Wheels, 7. # The Everly Brothers - Walk Right Back, # 6. The Marcels - Blue Moon, # 5. Marty Robins - Don't Worry, # # 4. Jorgen Ingmann & His Guitar – Apache, # 3. The Shirelles - Dedicated To The One I Love, # 2. Chubby Checker – Pony Time and # 1. Elvis Presley – Surrender.

Everything’s there; big band, ballads, rock and roll, Soul/R&B, dance tunes, instrumentals, teenage tragedy songs and even a specialty tune. There were two songs by the Everly Brothers, a song by a girl group. There was even a song by Lawrence Welk and one by a guy who sang like a boy, a girl and a frog! No chance of a burn out listening to this list.

When the seventies came along, it seems to me that radio stations started to create music smokestacks along genres. There were fewer cross over tunes (country / pop / rock), (blues / rock), fewer instrumentals in any genre and everything being played on any given station started to sound more and more alike. There were your rock stations, your country stations, your soul and R&B stations each with their own distinct playlist. Sure there were still crossover songs but there were fewer of them. Some genres, traditional blues, Chicago and New Orleans jazz, rockabilly and bluegrass, all of which had representation in the form of the songs played on the rock and roll stations no longer had outlets in most markets.

Unfortunately the local DJs who tied all this great variety of music would soon follow and stations were drawn into larger and larger conglomerates and the focus changed from the service to the community to the bottom line of the monthly ledger. It was less expensive to purchase an automation system and run it instead of paying that guy or gal to sit in the control room and spin those records. The automation systems that came along in the 70s were mechanical monsters with large reel to reel tapes for the music and cart machines for the public service announcements, commercials and station IDs. It became more “relevant” to the centrally located station programmers to concentrate on the one genre with which they were most familiar.

Things improved with the advent of automation systems that ran on relatively inexpensive desktop computers and played songs from files on their hard drives. Now a DJ could “voice track” a 3 hour show in 45 minutes or so. It sounded more “live” than the old mechanical systems and as a result it put more DJs out of work. Through the Internet, the morning drive DJ in Miami could be the afternoon drive DJ in Minneapolis.

But, “voice – tracking” does not sound quite right. True it can be used to seamlessly back sell the song that is ending and then walk up and hit the post (the moment the singer starts singing) of the song that is starting. But when a live DJ does that, he beat matches the music that is playing under his or her voice with their delivery’s cadence. The very best DJs can interact with the elements of the music under them in a way no computer can today. So when I hear a “voice – tracked” show it becomes painfully clear that automation has control of the show. To me, that makes it less inviting. I’d much rather listen to a master of the art ply his or her trade.

Now, I’m far from being a Luddite with a distaste of everything technical. There are a lot of things that computers and the Internet can do to make radio better. For example, when an automation system is run in “DJ Assist Mode” it can help by counting down to the “post” on the screen or by searching its database for that song that was just requested among other things. The amount of mechanical work the DJ has to do during the show is greatly decreased. It can even keep the performance rights logs of the songs that are being played, something we used to have to do by hand.

I don’t think we will ever see the day where radio was all “mom and pop” owned stations each with a cadre of local live DJs again but there are signs that the current corporate structure of radio may be changing. If that happens the millennials may discover how much fun can be had listening to the local DJ spinning the tunes for “All the cool cats, and all the hot kitties!” Oh MY!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Working on a Holiday

Today is Easter Sunday and that means most of us are taking time to be with our families and friends. These days, that is less true for those who work in retail than it used to be.

When I was a young pup, just getting my feet wet in broadcasting, the band of brothers and sisters working on Easter was much smaller, police, fire, hospitals, a few short order restaurants and of course, radio and TV broadcasters.

I remember my first Easter shift; April 10, 1966. I was working one of my last weekend shifts at WCOS. During that period I was filling in on Saturday Nights on the all night show that I would be doing full time Monday through Saturday in two weeks. I worked from 1 AM until 7 AM Easter Sunday then returned at 7 PM that evening to control op a couple of New Orleans’s style Jazz shows followed by a rock and roll record show from 9 PM until 1AM Monday.

By that time, I had already worked over the past year on a couple of holidays as a part timer filling in for the regular DJs. But this was going to be my first major holiday. This was starting to be real serious; the first time I won’t be traveling home to be with my family on a big holiday. As I walked from my apartment to the station, I realized that my life was really changing and for the first time I was going to miss that family gathering.

As I sat down in the air chair, my first task of the night was to read the news between the Nightbeat Show that was just ending out at Doug Broome’s and the All Night Satellite. I felt a little sad and lonesome as the show ended and I punched the button to start the news sounder, but that soon changed. I didn’t have much time to think about things during the news, the commercial and the weather. There was much less time to think after that. Next came the end of news announcement, the station ID which we always read live and then the intro jingle to my show.

I was off to the races! Since the top 40 45 RMP records were in the box being brought back to the station by the DJ before me from Doug Broome’s, I had fewer choices for music to play. The top 20 songs were recorded to cartridge tapes both as backups to the vinyl copies and to provide music during the time it took to get them back to the station. Columbia was much smaller then and it rarely took more than ten or fifteen minutes to get back.

The only drawback was that there were only three cart machines in the studio, one for the song that was playing, one for the commercial that followed, and one for the next song. If there were more than one commercial, I would have to stop the music cart after it finished in order to play the next song. I had to remember to put the first cart back in and let it re-cue after the next song started. It was like playing musical chairs. I was sure glad to see the DJ with the records walk in the door. By the time that happened, the phone calls were coming in and folks were wishing me a Happy Easter and requesting their favorite tunes the rest of the night.

Left: A Western Electric audio board similar to the one in this story. The evening shift that day was a bit lonelier. I was running the board for those Jazz shows that ran on both the AM and FM stations. At 9 PM, things got scary busy. My rock and roll show started on AM and my Classical Music started at the same time on FM. To do this, I had to split the console and DJ the rock show on one “side” of the audio board the classical show on the other. To make matters worse, I used the same microphone for both shows, the difference was the direction I flipped the switch. Fortunately, I only had to talk a couple of times during the classical show as I flipped the LP from one side to the other. The FM show went off the air at midnight with the station sign off while the last hour of the AM show was just coming up to speed. I think this is where being ambidextrous was a great benefit.

By the time, that last hour of the Easter shift was over; I realized that I was going to be OK with working on the holidays. Radio was such a big part of our lives back then. That day, I heard from police headquarters, the fire station and a hospital or two when my fellow holiday workers called to wish me a Happy Easter and to ask for a favorite song or two. It wasn’t until the 80s that I finally had a job that didn’t require holiday work. So today I salute all of you who are covering a shift at a hospital, in a police car, riding on a fire engine, keeping a grocery store open or broadcasting a TV or radio show; I’ve been there and I appreciate what you do for us. Oh MY!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

End of an era!

Those of you who are Facebook friends have seen in the past my Sunday morning rants about my newspaper being missing. Usually there is a cat pictured with a woebegone face because she can’t follow her Charlie Brown that day. My cat hates technology and refuses to read the comics on a tablet. After all, the Sunday comics in glorious color on newsprint are what it’s all about around here.

A few weeks ago, I thought I had the problem solved when I asked the circulation department to have my carrier “throw” the paper into my front yard instead of using the white plastic tube that has been attached to my mailbox post since the early seventies. For several weeks all was good; whoever the person that was stealing the paper was, he or she would not walk into the yard to retrieve it off the ground. I guess the temptation of that fluffy paper sitting in the tube street side right at car window level was too much; a quick tap on the brakes and a fast nab and they were on their way with my paper.

But for some reason, my carrier had returned to the old habit of sticking the paper into that crusty, lichen encrusted tube. I don’t know if they have forgotten not to use the tube or if I have a new carrier. Today was the first Sunday after they reverted to using the tube and sure enough, the paper is missing again. Despite the promise of the person who handles delivery complaints in a thick Indian accent, that they would re-deliver the paper by noon, I still don’t have a paper, and my kitty does not have her Charlie Brown.

That paper tube has been part of the front yard so long that it has outlasted several mailbox posts. The sunlight has bleached off the lettering for “The State” Newspaper over time. Over the years, the lichens that adorn the bark of the nearby pine trees found that it can make itself quite at home on the white plastic. It did so quite artistically and I never had the heart to clean it off. I convinced myself that it added a rustic touch to the suburban American disaster that is my front yard. We can talk about the effects of many years of incipient drought on my grass another time.

So, shortly after noon, on my final trip to see if the paper was delivered, I carried my power drill out and sadly removed the four screws that held that venerated paper tube to the post and carried it back to my shop. I don’t have the heart to throw it away, but if the paper carrier can’t remember not to use it, I have no recourse but to force him or her to “throw” the paper instead of “tubing” it. I did inform the circulation person with the nice Indian accent that I would be removing the tube and that the carrier must “throw” it anywhere in the yard except near the street.

As I look at that paper tube on the floor, I can’t quite make myself throw it away. It has been part of my daily routine longer than several jobs that I’ve held and longer than any of the pets that live around here. The outside is pretty weather beaten but the inside, while a little dirty is quite pristine. There must be some other use for it. An idea is beginning to form; I can mount it on the wall of the shed and use it as a caddy for long handled yard tools such as hedge clippers. Yeah, that’s it! It will be inside, protected from the elements. The lichen won’t like that too much but it still has the trees. So, mister paper tube, you will still be around, rustic look and all. After all, the rest of that shed is already rustic too. Oh MY!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Taking requests and kicking a little wax!

Yesterday dawned clear and cool after a rainy Friday. I had packed my speakers, amplifier and all the cables I would need into my car the evening before, so all I needed to do was to grab the backpack with my computer and head out into the early morning crispness. With a song in my heart and an Oldie on the radio, I was headed out to the Old Columbia Speedway to MC and DJ the British Car Show that is held annually in conjunction with the Tartan Day South Festival.

On the way over I thought about the historic speedway which served the Capitol City area with top-level NASCAR and other racing excitement from the 1940s through the middle of the 1970s. The speedway thrived as a dirt track until NASCAR moved from dirt racing venues to all-asphalt track in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In fact the granddaddy of all NASCAR drivers, Richard Petty, ran his first race at Columbia Speedway in 1958 and returned in 1959 to capture his first win. Of course, I had my wraparound sunglasses on as I made my way through the grass parking lot, across the banked track and into the infield where the tents were being erected for the show. No, I did not wear a cowboy hat like Richard but if I owned one I might have.

You can see the banked track past the bagpipes and drums. After unloading my gear, I drove over to the north turn of the oval track to park my car. It was the first time that I had parked on that part of the track and I was surprised by the amount of bank on that turn on the asphalt track as I got out of the car. The parts of the track that I had parked on in the past were much flatter. I made my way across the sun drenched field back to the DJ tent I was surprised to pass a Quidditch field marked out between the last row of the classic cars and the edge of the infield. Soon young men and women would be running around with sticks between their legs (in place of Harry Potter’s brooms) trying to stuff balls into the three circular goals at each end of the contest field. Later from my vantage point in the tent, it was entertaining to watch, even if there was no flying involved.

My setup in the DJ Tent! As I approached the now fully erected tent, I realized that it was approximately the same size as the old radio booth I spun the 45’s while doing the Nightbeat Show in at Doug Broome’s restaurant during my WCOS days. True, that old booth was made of concrete cinder blocks with three 4’ x 8’ glass windows and a back door where I would meet the listeners who would come by with their requests and dedications written on napkins, notebook paper or whatever was handy. I would carefully stack those pieces of paper on the edge of the table that held the console by placing the latest request on the bottom of the pile. That way I would be playing them in the order I received them. I must admit that I occasionally played a non requested song between two requests that clashed with each other musically. When that happened we called those clashes “train wrecks.” These days with automated stations we hear more “train wrecks” than we did back in the age of live DJs. No one has been able to program a computer automation system to avoid them. I’ve seen many a operations manager pull up a listing of the songs that were scheduled to play that day and move individual songs around to avoid the clashes.

I really love doing the car show for two reasons. First, this group wants to hear oldies, my sweet spot, more than any other group for which I play music. The second reason is that this event puts me in the same setting as doing the Nightbeat show; taking requests and dedications. This is what makes me happy! And it makes my job easier too. One of the things I like the most is playing requests is that they ask for a song I may not have played on any of my radio shows in so long that I have almost forgotten it. A couple of those came up yesterday, “I Am The Walrus” by the Beatles and Theresa Brewer’s "Let Me Go, Lover!." Fortunately they did not come at the same time because there is a classic “train wreck” if there is ever one.

Not having cinderblock walls also affords one of my favorite pleasures, that of seeing my audience face to face to kibitz about the music, the cars and the beautiful weather. I was especially pleased at the number of my WUSC-FM listeners who came by to introduce themselves and talk about our favorite music. Yesterday was exhausting, long hours and lugging 100 pounds of equipment from home to the car to the booth and back. At the end of the day, I sank into my easy chair physically worn out, but at an emotional high. This is why I still do radio long after most people have retired and hung up their headphones. The listener is King or Queen and the 55+ crowd is growing and they are fiercely loyal to their music. There are a growing number of advertisers who want to market to them as well. They are relevant! Note: an increasing number of AM stations are switching back to oldies all over the country. I think they have figured this out. Oh MY!