April 23rd, 2021

Radio Ramblings: Radio guy misses the industry’s good ol’ days

By Medicine Hat News on February 21, 2019.

I’ve been taking a trip down memory lane lately and thinking about all the changes that have taken place in the radio industry.

I was the ripe old age of 15 in 1981 when I got my first radio job in Brooks. It was part-time on the weekends and boy I can tell you, it was quite nerve-wracking going on the air for the first couple of months.

Back then, and for the next decade, when you first got to work, you went to the music library where all the records were stored and pulled each song you wanted to play for your shift.

That’s right! An entire room with nothing but 45s and LPs. It was a daunting task really. There were a few guidelines the DJ had to follow when picking the music, but really it was left up to us to get the show going.

I went to radio school in 1984, to learn the finer parts of the craft and then got my first full-time job in Peace River in 1985.

It was comfortable, it was a similar setup, but with a much bigger room for the music. There was also a card-catalogue system so if you were looking for a specific song, it was much easier to find.

While I absolutely hated the winters in the north, it was a great station to work at. Independently owned stations were everywhere and most treated their employees very well, for that I was always grateful to the management.

There really wasn’t any such thing as automation in those days. I was what was called a “swing” guy, meaning I had three evening shifts and two midnight shifts a week.

While a lot of my colleagues hated doing the midnight to 6 a.m. shift, I actually quite liked it. It was kind of peaceful. You would get a few people phoning in requests, including the cute nurses at the hospital!

Sadly the old days pass into history and the industry evolved again. It was the late 1980s and early 1990s when some form of automation or syndicated radio shows took over the midnight show.

It was also around that time the way music was handled changed.  CDs became the go-to for music, then another decade passes and now all the music is stored on a computer or two in some back room that most radio people rarely, if ever, go in to.

Those getting into radio this century will never know the fun of music meetings, having to try to run to the bathroom and be back in 3:30 in order to start the next record, or if it was a really bad song, tossing the 45 record against the wall and watching it explode.

The overnight guy, no longer has to go to the news teletype machine and rip and sort all the news stories for the news department in the morning. That’s if you can even find a live body working overnights in radio anymore.

I’m really glad I had that opportunity to work in what I call “the good ol’ days.” I remember them with a lot of fondness and miss them with some sadness.

Warren Affleck is a news anchor and reporter at 102.1 CJCY

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