Friday, July 15, 2011

Radio Nightmare

Last night I dreamed I was back at WJMA, a station I worked for back in the 1980's. It was more of a nightmare than a dream. I was filling in for the regular Saturday afternoon host Even though the format was country (which it is for the station in real life),  I had been asked to play classical music, since that's what I do at WTJU.

There were some nightmarish elements fellow broadcasters could appreciate. There wasn't a log, so I didn't know when things were supposed to happen, like the news feed at the top of the hour. I didn't know what commercials to run, or even where they were in the studio or on the board (had I chosen to run any). Ditto with public service announcements. The studio clock wasn't working, so I was relying on my wristwatch for time checks.

Worse yet, the studio also doubled as the lobby, with a door opening onto the street, so people were constantly coming and going -- and of course talking the whole time, whether the mic was open or not. In fact, the News Director was there, criticizing everything I did, but only while I was trying to talk on air. When I asked him to stop, he replied that if I was doing what I was supposed to, he wouldn't have anything to say. (BTW - I worked with this person at the station, and he's still there. He's a true professional and would never do any such thing in real life).

Apparently I had done this shift the previous Saturday, and he was there with some programming suggestions. The classical music I played before was too hard to listen to. It was too long, and too complex for their country music listeners. So no vocal music, nothing over four minutes in length, and the more familiar the better.

I replied that I only had about four tracks by Bach, another four by Handel, and three by Vivaldi that fit his criteria. "That's fine," he said, "just keep repeating threm." I expressed doubts that running the same eleven tracks in rotation from 1 to 4PM was a good idea. That's when he informed me that I would be on until 5, or possible 6PM when the owner's plane landed.

I woke up.

Yes, it was all a dream -- except for one part. As I've documented in my Classical Challenge, there are quite a few music directors who labor under some of the restraints I was lucky enough to escape when I awoke.  I wonder if they consider their jobs a nightmare, or a dream?

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