Remembering a Major On Air Disaster!
There are always stories to tell after spending years working on the air at various radio stations. Back in the days of live radio, anything can and sometimes does go wrong! Here's one of many incidents that occurred during my on air radio career. This incident happened very early on before I learned a major trick in radio.......how to cover up mistakes!
I got my first part time job at WSUS FM in Sussex Country NJ back in 1978. I worked on Saturday evening from 11pm - 6am. At that time all music was played on vinyl records and commercials, jingles and sweepers were on audio carts.
It was my first or second show and I was the only one at the station at the time. It was about 1am. Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" was spinning on the turntable while this skinny, un-experienced kid was "groovin to the tunes" in the studio. I hadn't noticed that I had commercials coming up next. All commercials were given a number and were in a rotating cart rack sitting right next to the turntable that was one the air. (You know where I'm going with this right?) As Gloria was beginning to fade out, I frantically spun the cart rack around to quickly find the commercials that were scheduled to air next. THEN IT HAPPENED!!
The entire cart rack came crashing down on Gloria Gaynor! Needless to say, She did NOT survive. The 12' record broke into a million pieces after it made aloud scratching sound on the air! Then....OH NO....the dreaded DEAD AIR!! Being very new in the industry, instead of getting something on the air immediately, I began picking up the remnants of Gloria and placing them in a plastic bag.
The phones lit up!! I quickly began disconnecting every phone call!! While there was still DEAD AIR! I then got up enough courage to pick up the commercials, find the ones that needed to air, place them in the cart machines and press the button. In the meantime I was staring at the big red light located on the left side of the room. If that lit up, my radio career would have been cut short because that was the owners line! No call ever came! I went on with my on air "extravaganza" cleaning up as I went along. After I got off the air, I took the bag containing the pieces of Gloria Gaynor and threw them in the dumpster in the back of the station.
At the next staff meeting one of the owners kept asking what ever happened to the 12" copy of Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive? I must have been red as a tomato as my heart was racing the whole time.
Even though Gloria did not survive I did and was able to go on with my radio career!