Thursday, August 4, 2011

910 In Minot KCJB!!!

 A Gates "Yard" console similar to the one at KCJB
Hear Pat read this entry 

Now lest anyone get the notion that military discipline went completely out the door at Minot, let me dispel that idea right now.   Just because the personnel at AMMS were a tad lax on some of the “chicken shit” aspects of Air Force life, didn't mean they were lax when it came to the unit's mission, just the opposite.  To a man we took this responsibility very seriously.  My instructors at Chanute had always said “in SAC you work hard, but you play hard.”  I learned immediately how true this was.  Many was the time when we'd spend our lunch period sitting at a console while we tried to work out a “No Go” condition on the bird.  Our normal workday was 7:30-4:00, but if there was a bug in the system we'd be expected to stay until we worked it out no matter how long it took.  On the other hand, when we partied we REALLY partied!  Everybody looked out for everybody else so there was rarely any backlash.

I'd arrived at Minot in the late summer, the best time of the year there.  The hottest part of the summer had passed... believe me, it gets REAL hot in North Dakota... and the weather was clear and temperate.  I was summoned to BEMO (base supply) to obtain my winter issue.  I was amazed at the amount of clothing they gave me.   A huge, thick parka, insulated “bunny pants” several pairs of insulated long johns, numerous sets of gloves... leather shells, a wool liner and satin glove to wear under all that... gigantic “Mukluk” boots etc.  The issue must've weighed 50 lbs.  “Trust me, you'll need it” I was told.  I was not looking forward to finding out!

One day at lunch I met up with a guy who had a part time job at KCJB, the local radio station.   He told me that they often relied on Air Force guys to fill the part-time slots, and that he'd be happy to introduce me to the program director if I was interested.  If I was interested?  Of course I was interested!  I took him up on the offer immediately.

The program director was a friendly enough guy, he seemed impressed with my limited credentials and introduced me to the general manager of the place.  “It's a pretty simple job” the manager told me, “doesn't pay much, but it's yours if you want it.”  Simple job!  I'd been just introduced to the kind of attitude I'd see time and time again in the industry.  On-air personnel were just “having fun,” it wasn't a “real job” at all.  I'd like to see them run the place without us.  I shook off the insult and took the job.

My first night on the air was pretty straightforward.  Dan Brannon showed me the board (the control console, or nerve center of the station) and told me “good luck. See ya!”  OK, now what?  For those of you who've never seen the inner workings of a radio station let me run through a typical sequence of events:
  • Cue up the next song on turntable #1
  • Cue up the spot for Hamms Beer on turntable #2
    Load up the cart decks (a tape machine similar to an 8 track used to record commercials, jingles and other programming elements) with the rest of the commercials in the break
  • Dig into the copy bin for the tag to read after the Hamms spot
  • Crack the mike and backsell the previous record while “slip cueing” (holding the record with your finger while the turntable spins below it) the Hamms spot.
  • Whip the TT#2 pot (volume control) open and let go of the record.
  • At 20 sec, crack the mike and read the tag
  • Hit the first cart
  • Remove the Hamms spot from the turntable and cue up the next song.
  • Hit the second cart, and load #1 with a jingle
  • Slip cue the next song.
  • Hit the jingle and crack the mike
  • Whip the mike and TT#1 pots open at the same time
  • Intro the song.
  • Do it all over again.
This sequence was repeated over and over, dozens of times per air shift.

It took awhile to get the hang of it andI had my share of “dead air” during the first hour, but by the second I had gotten the hang of it.  By the time my shift ended 5 hours later I felt like a seasoned pro.  I'd successfully completed my first, real shift on the air and hadn't done anything to put the station's license in jeopardy.

I felt that was a step in the right direction.

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