I present to you here an afternoon’s worth of work. Everyone was gone and I had just recorded my third CD, and had some time on my hands. So please enjoy. This hasn’t really been shopped too much but it was fun to make. Next one, I’m breaking out the Limbaugh.
I wanted to be in radio because I loved music. But unlike the halcyon days of Wolfman Jack, Johnny Fever and Eric Begosian, music has very little to do with radio, sort of like working in a record store has very little to do with music. I interned at WECK in Cheektowaga, NY under the tutelage of one Steve Rall. A very nice man who reminded me of the Amazing Kreskin. He was more into the pragmatic side, but a guy named Paul Johnson was my true guru. A production whiz, I loved being around him just to see the magic he could create with his voice and a little cut-and-splice know-how. So I kow-towed to his know-how, but my know-how was never more than so-so, anyhoo. Anyhow, he once crafted an audio production of an arm wrestling match between Steve Rall and Clara Peller. Peller won. I listened to my cassette copy over and over. Laughing giddily at the magic that Paul had created in front of my own eyes.
When I went to Buffalo State, I fit right in at WBNY. WECK’s format was “Music of Your Life” which meant Mitch Miller, Ray Conniff, The Lettermen, and Patti Page if the coffee was strong. WBNY was the ne plus ultra of college radio circa 1987. If you’re a fan of this blog, you’ve seen some footage of my band Man Against Mauve playing in the lobby of the station itself. I had my own three hour show as a freshman. From 3-6 A.M. Saturday Night you could tune in to hear “Radio Siberia”. I would play lots of Residents, XTC, Malcolm McLaren, The Clash, and other hits of the recent past. I would traipse to the nearby Wilson Farms and grad a 2-liter of Jolt Cola, chug it, and proceed to devastate the ears of the youth with my turn-table savvy. Yeah. Sometimes the poor bastard with the 6 A.M. shift wouldn’t show up, and I’d panic. Here’s your “Metal Machine Music” triple play. I would call the sleeping PD and he would ride his bike from his dorm to the station and take over for me. This happened a few times. All in all, it was pretty lonely. Not at all like the movie “FM”. Not even close.
After I pseudo-graduated (read: gave up) from college, I forgot about doing radio for a while until some fellow from WIVB saw me playing at a local bookstore promoting a band’s CD. He said I would be perfect for a voice-over gig for Dan Georger Mitsubishi. I made the role my own. I was known as “annoying guy” to anyone who heard the spots, but according to Dan, they worked. Once a month or so I would go to the station and do that thing, and it felt great. I wish I had the spots to play for you.
I marketed myself as a voice-over guy in Raleigh when I moved to Cary with Erin. Duping tapes, attending meetings, shaking hands. Endless phone calls. Endless “we have a guy who does all our spots…” or “we don’t need anything unless you’re a black woman” or “get the fuck out of my bathroom…” but it was very competitive, and I guess I didn’t have it in me. I got some gigs and loved every one of them.
I did live out my dream of working for NPR. I somehow talked my way into a weekend spot at WUNC. I announced classical music and did announcing spots between syndicated programming like “Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me” and “Car Talk”. The board was incredible. Amazingly advanced compared to anything I had seen. And while it was difficult for me to master the cues (there are about three different signals in your headphones at any one time that all have to stop at once to make those cues sound clean) I did it! Once they were doing a tour of the studio for some of the more gracious benefactors of the station. I was operating the bard that afternoon. They came to the big glass booth just as I was performing one of these important top-of-the-hour breaks, and I executed it perfectly! And they applauded! I bowed, and thought to myself, “Self, don’t forget this…this is one of the best moments of your life. Doing what you love, and having people see you and appreciating your gift!” And so it was.
There wasn’t much money in radio, and they needed to change formats or…something. So I left. I got a song out of it. Want to hear it? evil in me
So this is a brief and truncated version of what my life pursuing my dream has been like, and I know I will do it again some day. While the cash in radio sucks, the money in voice-overs is very good. I may be unemployed soon, so you do what you gotta do. Besides, I’m knee-deep in hair system pamphlets. They’re very persuasive. Enjoy the demo, folks.