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RE: Talk Radio - Adam's quest to be on the air...

Dateline April 1978. 

An Uncle who owned an Auto Body shop advertised on our local station, WLLH
1400 Lowell (and Lawrence), MA. Knowing the General Manager, he told me to
make a demo tape and he'll make an appointment to see him. I threw together
a demo on my $19 tape recorders and record player posing as a DJ and newsman
on a mythical station in the next town. AM 760 WRON, Dracut, Massachusetts.
This was back in the day when 'clear channels were clear channels'. Anyhow,
after sitting and listening to the tape Mr. Lerner the GM of WLLH/WSSH
handed me an application. Problem was that I was 15 years old. I found a
federal program that taught kids how to prepare for job interviews, chose
careers, etc...  they provided the pay and Mr. Lerner provided the job. I
was a log clerk, but after my afterschool duties at the station with the
logs, I got to hang out in AM control and push buttons, silently hang out in
the production room observing the pros ply thier craft, and hang with the
news hounds, one of which taught me a little about writing news (I have one
aircheck of a story I wrote)... oh, and also I was pressed into service by
the station engineer (hauling around remote consoles, speakers, etc... MAN
were those heavy! I was about 90 or 100 lbs at the time. 

I never got to be on the air except for a commercial or two (bit parts in a
multi-person advert) or seguing music and jingles for the AM on-air jock
when he had to kick-start the automation in the WSSH 99.5 studio (adjoining

I didn't have my own show, but I'll tell you - I learned a LOT there; I was
literally amazed when I did land an on-air job in 1997 at 1570 then-WQAI
outside Jacksonville, FL (hired based on my deep passion for and general
knowledge of radio) of how much 'stuck with me, even though it was 19 years
later. I already knew how to operate the board and how to make use of the
different 'busses' or non-on-air circuits... how to segue elements... the
importance of playing/saying station IDs on the hour, and in engineering,
how a bad or missing ground can really screw stuff up in the audio chain and
other equipment.... (use the station's safety ground strapping)... and so on
and so forth. I even showed up the program director in the production room;
and he was an overnighter for a long time at a 100kw medium size market FM
station... All this from carefully observing everyone at WLLH/WSSH and
asking questions along the way. 

I recommend that you read aloud a lot, especially into a tape recorder.
Perhaps you can pretend you're the newsman or talk show host... throw in
some formatics perhaps. Anyway, listen to your product. See how you
pronounciate words you may not be comfortable with... or how you pick
yourself up after you stumble, or like me sometimes, lose your spot in the
script (sometimes my eyes spasm a wee bit). Notice the infliction of your
voice. Is it monotone or otherwise? One ought to start small and work your
way up. Maybe at first you can volunteer at a station, commercial or
otherwise. Age may be a problem - I don't know.... but anyway once you're in
a door, even as a visitor, you could come across a situation where a station
NEEDS a --------. Being in the right spot at the right time is everything in
my book. This was the case with my 4 year stint at WQAI/WYHI/WGSR. They
needed a *reliable* co-host for an auction. Showed up, proved myself....
then I got to jock after the auction show... they went to automation. I
asked if I could jock and the Sales Mgr said sure - have at it! While at the
station I volonteered to take on the jobs no one wanted to do. Took the
trash out, tidyed up the studio/office... they notice these things. Soon, I
displayed some technical aptitude and then I was in charge of signing on the
station Saturdays and Sundays. That enabled me to jock for about two hours
before the start of our Auction show or paid programming. When things went
on the blink with the equipment, I took the inititive to fix the equipment,
which saved the GM money instead of calling in the contract engineer. Many
of the things I learned by watching the WLLH WSSH chief engineer in action.
THe more I helped the station, the more they granted me favors or liberties.
Everyone was grateful for not having to wake up at oh-dark-thirty in the
morning to sign on during the weekends and holidays. Me - I'm in the miltary
and used to doing so... and actually looked forward to it. The company
folded and handed the station back to the licensee. I was the only employee
that was retained at the station due to my 'can-do' positive attitude and
ability to do things (albiet intuitively). Eventually, I got to recommend a
format change - the station switched from C&W to 70s Pop. The station
library was my CD collection with about 1800 selections or more of 70s pop
hits. I got to have my own show (70s hits great and small) before you know
it and was tapped to produce the first string of locally originated talk
shows. I didn't know anything about it but accepted the challenge. All I
needed to know (and to learn not to do) was all around me on the radio dial.
The host and the GM were very impressed with my work. I was asked to produce
at a local talk station in Jacksonville (bigger market) but I stayed with
1570 because of my standing with the company and didn't want to give up my
DJ shows. 

Oops working backward, before talk, I learned in one lesson how to produce
local sports play by play broadcasts. Not too hard to learn really... took
great pride in slamming the commercials and jingle right on cue with no dead

Before you knew it I was allowed to use the 10kw transmitter after midnight
to host a DX. music party that was heard nationally and internationally. I
sent about 60 QSLs out to listeners from far northerly Finland and Germany,
the Caribbean, to New Zealand.. domestically, CT to OR, CA, TN, KY, OH, GA,
SC, TX, IL, PA, MI, etc etc etc.. fun! Even folks in the industry called in
- some of them I'd call or report on thier DX tests (on AM). 

There are a number of ways you can get your foot in the door. Not many lead
a path straight to the microphones, but that's OK. With time and paitence
you'll make it if you have the will, patience, tact and determination! I
know first hand and got to live my childhood dream of being in radio. Did I
make it to the big leagues? No not yet, but once I retire from the Navy, who

Ron Gitschier

 On 6 Jan 2002 at 16:31, Adam Rivers wrote:

> You guys all know me. You know I'm not the ordinary 13
> year old, does anyone know a radio station director
> that might give me a shot for a trial talk radio show,
> if you don't believe i can have a good show, talk to
> me and find out for sure!!! So please email me off
> list or on list I don't care if you think someone
> might give me a shot. 

Without having heard you, I suspect you could do a very good radio show.  
However, there are child labor laws, which create problems with hiring 
anyone that young.  There's probably a way around it, but it's something 
you should consider.  At the very least, you'd probably need your 
parents' agreement with your plans.

I'm sure you find this frustrating and can't wait to be old enough to be 
rid of these restrictions, but that's the way it is.  If it's any 
consolation to you, the older you get, the faster time seems to go by.  

That said, I suspect the best way to get on the air might be to approach 
some local college stations and see if they will put you on.  
A. Joseph Ross, J.D.