Thursday, November 20, 2008

I Loved Being A Late-Night Disc Jockey

There’s something magical about being on the radio and, no matter which daypart you work, each d.j. finds the spell.

For me, it was being on the air late in the evening. On AM radio, you don’t know where your signal may be going. If you work on a 50,000-watt station (called, in the business, a “flamethrower”), you might be heard all over the country, or pretty close to it. If you are stuck in a little teakettle of an operation, you are lucky to reach the county line but, if conditions are right, someone driving along in their car a couple hundred miles away might be in just the right place to hear your show. You just never know.

As the evening wears on and it becomes very late, you know your audience has grown smaller. Yes, you know it; you can feel it. So you get more intimate, you speak with more of a one-to-one feeling, you are with friends, the people of the night. You are more willing to put phone calls on the air and you can trust your callers enough not to use a delay; they won’t say anything that will get you in trouble.

So there you are, on the right side or the wrong side of midnight. The music is soft and swinging, you are close-talking the mic with a quiet, low-pitched voice. You know how it sounds on the other side, coming out of the speaker: cool and neat, the late-night sound from the guy on the radio who’s in tune with the universe.

The lights are low in the studio, the music plays and I’m on the air.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hear you! How many times have I spent the night behind the wheel sipping luke warm coffee and pushing buttons on the radio. The music is fine-tuned to the late hours, or early hours before sunrise, it seems deeper and more personal and there is always an aura of me thinking, ''Gee, that guy must know that I'm listening''. Even Delilah is refreshing, as was that late night guy on the Purple Grotto.


November 20, 2008 4:52 PM  
Blogger Tom Carten said...

Al "Jazzbo" Collins, now gone, was a classic.

November 21, 2008 1:51 PM  

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