Remember Being On the Air on Christmas Day?

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Remember Being On the Air on Christmas Day?

Postby jon » Mon Dec 26, 2016 6:13 pm

A popular Facebook Closed Group got a lot of comments from this opening post (posted Christmas Day at 8:17 am):
How many of you worked Christmas Day in the era before automation? I did for at least the first 10 of my 50 year career. Rather than being a downer I found it to be gratifying as listeners called to wish Merry Christmas and share some thoughts. More than one probably had a few drinks, but all were pleasant and thankful that a real human was there. Good memories. (Paul Hemmer)

If it can generate 155 comments on Facebook, I'm sure there are some tales to tell here.
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Re: Remember Being On the Air on Christmas Day?

Postby jon » Mon Dec 26, 2016 6:40 pm

I might as well start:

My first year getting paid to work in Radio saw me working both Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

I arrived well before my 9:00 a.m. start time. In their infinite wisdom, station management had assigned the afternoon drive announcer to do Christmas morning live. By the time I got there, he was completely plastered.

Fortunately, he sounded fine on the air, but his hand-eye coordination left much to be desired. He had totally destroyed the needle on one turntable and bent the needle on the only other turntable in the AM control room.

Since there were no commercials to be aired on Christmas Day, it was just his announcing, a pile of Christmas LPs, the hourly News and the occasional bit of imaging on cart.

I got him going by stealing a needle from the only turntable in the Production Control Room, and managed to straighten the bent needle.

The station used the best phono cartridges that money could buy at the time, so there was hell to pay two days later when management came back to work, given that the station price was $35 a needle.

I took over at 9:00 a.m., playing the voice tracks that had been recorded for the rest of Christmas Day, without further incident. But not before writing a memo to my boss, explaining what had happened, to ensure that I still had a job on December 27th.

On Boxing Day, I was assigned to FM. Both stations played nothing but Christmas music until 6:00 p.m.. Every hour was short a lot of music, because there were no commercials, so I got to fill. I decided to treat myself, so the last song played before the commercials began and the Christmas music ended was a perfect fit for the time remaining after the assigned music ran out: 9 minutes and 52 seconds. "What's Going On?" by Quincy Jones fit the station's format and, at the time, was my idea of a truly great Christmas song, though it was never intended as such by either Marvin Gaye or Quincy Jones.
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