July 17th, 2019

Radio Ramblings: Radio then and now and how times have changed

By Medicine Hat News on January 10, 2019.

What a journey!

The summer of 1975 took me to Lloydminster for my first radio job.

I’m pretty sure at that point, I never thought that I would still be broadcasting in 2019. But here I am!

Most of the men and women I work with today have only lived in a computer world.

When I started in radio, computers were still a thing of the future. We may have joked about computers someday taking our jobs, but that was over a few beers after work.

This brings us to my subject for this column. How we retrieve our music today versus the 1970s.

Today we walk into the control room and there it is. Nicely stacked in order on a computer screen, all set to go, waiting for someone to hit a button, and the show begins.

In the ’70s and early-’80s, things were quite different. It was an adventure!

During these years, music came in many forms. Long play albums, 45s, reel-to-reel tape, and “Carts.”

Carts looked a lot like an 8-track cassette. (If you’re under 35 you had better Google 8-track.)

Carts didn’t hold just music, but radio commercials as well. They was only ever one song on one cart.

These music carts were generally kept in the control room, along with the commercials. However, some stations kept them in the hall outside of the broadcast booth and some kept theirs in the library. All announcers were responsible for picking their music before their show, and it could be quite the process.

There was a music log to follow, so we would pick and stack the music in the order it was to be played. You would use turntables, and cart machines, and always had a backup reel to reel, just in case your turntable or cart machine went down.

So by the time you moved all of your music into the booth, you might have a dozen 45s, three or four albums, and a stack of carts that two tall men couldn’t shake hands over. On more than one occasion, you would drop your stack, then have to regroup, and re-pick your music. Of course you were also responsible for putting away all of your music and commercials at the end of your shift.

When I moved to Medicine Hat in 1987, CJCY had a computer for generating a music log. This beast was a Commodore 64. I was pretty excited.

A few years earlier in Calgary, I was the music director, and with no computer, had to hand-log the music for a 24-hour day, 7 days a week, because then we were live — every hour of every day.

This was very tedious, and generally took a full day to generate a couple of days of music, something now that might take a few minutes.

The early days of radio for me was very “clunky” with stuff all over the place.

Today we walk into the booth with five computer screens, four keyboards, and a few computers tucked nicely under the counter.

The actual control board, if you have never seen one, might look like the controls of a 747.

Since I seem to remember the old stuff, any future columns will likely be more reflections of ‘ “then and now.

John Carter is on the radio 6-10 a.m. weekdays on “Mornings with John and Steve” at 102.1 FM and cjcyfm.com. The Best of John and Steve airs Saturday mornings from 7-10.

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