8.09.2010

Do you have a recurring dream? I do. Every six months or so, after I've fallen into deep sleep, I am taking back to the year 1986. I was 18-years old, just about to graduate high school, and a part-time announcer at the local country music radio station, WNLD 1290 AM.
Even now, as I type the words WNLD, I can't but hear one of the overly-produced, station ID sound effects --the one that featured a deep and booming voice of a man (unknown to anyone who worked at the station or lived in Franklin County):

"1290 RADIO-O-O...W... N... L... D..."

I loved the way that mystery voice enunciated the station call letters! Sometimes, I tried to imitate his power and technique, but I just didn't have the chops to do it well and, instead, sounded like a DJ-wannabee.

Of course, as a teenager with exactly zero prior broadcasting experience, that's what I was-- a wannabee, who happily manned the shifts nobody else wanted for a whopping 4 dollars per hour. On Sundays, for example, I worked the hours between the morning's Preacher Feature and NASCAR or ACC basketball, depending on the season. At the top of every hour during that 6-hour stretch, somewhere between the Voice of Shalom and Jefferson-Pilot Radio Networks, devoted listeners got to hear Diane Gregory, the Queen of Country, do her weather forecast, which, in reality, meant I had looked out the back window, read the current temperature from the thermometer, and decided whether to call the day sunny, partly cloudy, or cloudy.

Fun times, really.

But in my dreams, I am never taken back to the those good times--when working the controls was easy and mindless. Instead, I am taking back to my early days in radio, when I was just learning the ropes from station owner Donny Brook, and neither my attention span nor fingers were nimble enough appropriately organize and handle what seemed to be stacks and stacks of 8-track tapes of songs and commercials.

The problem was I never seemed to know when the song was ending or when the commercial break was beginning. As a result, I offered listeners the disastrous effect known in the industry as "dead air" --where for 2, 3, 4 or 10 seconds not a sound was transmitted from the tower to the listener's ear.

Really, Donny should have dubbed me Diane Gregory, the Queen of Dead Air, because I did it so well.

Now in my dream, it's always the same scenario. I'm sitting in front of the control panel with my head phones on, looking both cute and professional at the same time. Randy Travis sings I'm Gonna Love You Forever and Ever, but "forever and ever" only lasts three and a half minutes. Randy's sudden departure leaves me dumbfounded and without a single commercial to play. I'm left scrambling for something to shove into the tape player--usually a holiday commercial from last season or of something about the Leggett sale that ended the week prior.

Some people have recurring dreams about being chased, walking in public naked, or falling endlessly. Not me. Twenty-five years after leaving WNLD, I still dream about "dead air" even though everything about my current life is so very much full and alive.

I don't know what it means. I do know that whenever I have my recurring dream, sleep is not restful. And I always wake up relieved to know that on that particular night, REM, refers to my state of sleep and not a band I neglected to play during my shift.

3 comments:

Snooker said...

Ha Ha!! The Queen of Dead Air. I like it.

I too have these dreams still. You are not alone.

As a radio producer, my dead air moments were usually because my dead brain DJ was thinking about something else and had blown off his cue to come back in.

My dreams are of me running down the hall that separated us to look into the studio window giving the "dead air" signal of my hand moving back and forth under my chin.

Yeah, good times ... to be relived about once a year or so.

Good to see you back in the Blogging Saddle. Come over to Hamburg for the Whiney Expat Bloggers Meet Up if you dare.

LZ Blogger said...

I still remember your old posts with your voice on them. Great radio voice! ~ jb///

American in Norway said...

Your back?..... Your BACK! YEA!!!