Sunday, January 28, 2007

Land Of The Midnight Newspapers

It used to be great, being a late-night disc jockey. You knew the Night People were out there and, when you left the radio station to go home, only the NP were on the road or in the diners. There was camaraderie amongst you that the day people never knew. I never could figure out exactly what it was; maybe a shared entity of being up and working at a time when the rest of civilization was tucked away in bed.

No matter who we were, what our ages or jobs, we had a common unity (which you can respell to “community”) as denizens of Those Hours.

As far as disc jockeys go, they’re pretty much gone now. Few stations have live talent on the air at night; many of the shows are networked out of some large city, while the music stations are fed from some remote point with automated voices doing what we call “liners” between the pieces. There aren’t many dj’s driving home in the wee small hours anymore.

So far, newspapers have avoided this late-night automation. They still need printers to get the presses rolling and working properly at midnight; the bundle people, with all the automatic equipment at hand, still need to do their work. And, backing their cars and trucks up to the loading platform, are the contract carriers, the people who bring the newspapers to their destinations. The presses stop rolling a little before 3:00; the carriers have loaded their cars and vans by 4:00, except for the New York Times carrier who does his local route and then carries the Times. It all wraps up by then and the Night People disappear into the darkness.


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