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This April will mark 20 years since I came to Wilmington to work for Surf 107fm. The stations changed, were bought and sold, and my jobs have changed slightly over the years, but I’ve hung on like a BARNACLE. I have had crazy people as bosses, fun co-workers, and lots of fun memories of being sent to dangerous locations alone to do remotes, free pizza just for saying hello to a pizza place, the gorgeous view of the river from the 7th floor of the Murchison Building, that one insane boss that shook a cigarette at me for not obeying some crazy thing he was insisting upon, (poor guy - he's dead now), and heading next door to Bessies with the gal who worked the country station the same time I was on Surf to grab drinks after our shifts.
I remember things like cue burn: when we used to actually play vinyl records on air with a needle and everything – the most played records would get a bad groove of wear on the beginning of the song where we cued it up for airplay and you would hear a big hissing sound just as the song started. I also remember other things from 90’s radio:
Razorblade editing: We used to record calls (requests, crazy funny people, traffic calls) on a reel to reel tape deck. To edit, we used a razor and scotch tape. Getting stuck with a dull razor for your whole shift was seriously a bummer. Worse yet, so save costs, we used to erase entire reels to use over again with tons of edits sliced into it already.
Typewriters: That’s right, TYPEWRITERS! We used these to label carts with name of song, or commercial title. Wait, what’s a cart?
Carts: Odd shaped self-contained recording mediums that looked straight up like an 8-track. You popped them into this weird machine, hit a button and record. There were tall cart carousels in the studio and you’d spin it ‘round and ‘round looking for that commercial that’s supposed to play right – omg – NOW and you would grab it and slam it in the machine just in time. To prevent this scenario of course, a DJ would arrive for his/her shift and pull all the carts needed for each hour of the shift and have them stacked and ready to go.
I started my first job in radio in 1987 at the age of 23 thinking, “Oh this will be fun until I decide what to do.” Twenty six years later………..
I feel old. But honored.
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