Monday, October 3, 2011

Sorry, but today I don't care.

“You ruined my whole evening,” the man on the phone spat at me and hung up. I had apologized to him and explained to him that I had warned everyone that this would probably happen. But he had not heard my warning, only what I had warned against.

It was about 18 years ago. Normally I worked the graveyard shift at KNUI radio. The station was automated overnight. I changed the music reels, taped ABC feeds, produced commercials and set up for the morning show. For about a week in the fall of 1993 I worked the afternoon shift. I was thrilled to be able to be on the air on the AM portion of the station. The FM portion was automated 24 hours except news at the top of the hour. I was very familiar with the controls. So while I backtimed the two stations for the music to end right at the top of the hour I taped the ABC news off the satellite feed. It was probably just before four or five o’clock in Kahului, Maui. The news was from the west coast where it was three hours later.

Before satellite technology people who lived in Hawaii got all their TV shows a week later than the rest of the U.S. Even our TV news was a day late and the Today show was from yesterday. But by 1993 techoniogy was catching up. We got stuff the same day but usually delayed just a few hours. This afternoon I pulled a sound lever down into audition where only I could hear it. At 56.50 was a tone, then at 56.59 a chirp. I hit record and heard the voice of the ABC news begin. I may have been feeding the FM an instrumental to fade down at the top of the hour. I had chosen a song on the AM to end right when it was time for the news. I was thrilled to be doing so many things at once. I loved timing everything out in my head. This could have been my favorite part of the job right here. The ABC news ended and I rewound the tape.

At the top of the hour I took control over the FM station. We were in simulcast. I played the tape of the afternoon newsman giving the station identification and introducing the news. Then I did something I didn’t usually do. I brought up my own microphone and spoke on the AM and FM stations.

“ABC news is being broadcast from the west coast of the US mainland,” I announced. “There is a good chance that they will announce the final score of tonight’s World Series game. If you do not want to know the outcome of tonight’s game, you may want to leave the room or turn down your radio.”

The game had already been played in Philadelphia and would be on TV in Hawaii that night. I didn’t want people turning off their radio or changing the station. All I could do was warn them. And sure enough, the final score of the ballgame was broadcast.
Toronto Blue Jays – 10, Philadelphia Phillies – 3
Moments later the studio phone line lit up. I ignored it until the end of the weather and the news was over. I gave control back over to the FM and started a song on the AM. Then I answered the phone. The caller was indignant that we had announced the score. And I told him that I had warned him but he didn’t call to hear that. I wanted me to know how his evening was ruined.

I got back to work. Today, this week really, I didn’t care. Normally as I said before I would be on the graveyard shift. But the afternoon jock had graciously offered to work for me my night shift as well as part of his evening shift so that I could be home at night. This was 18 years ago and Harrison had just been born. That week I started experiencing changing diapers, hours of crying, jaundice and bilirubin and just a taste of the emotions a parent feels. No amount of whining about ball games concerned me any more. The thrill of backtiming music and newscasts was nothing compared to pinning a cloth diaper on a flailing newborn. I took a while, but I grew to love the job of being a dad most of all.

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