Thursday, March 13, 2008

Contemplations on the demise of the 7-inch reel....

I've had the pleasure lately of working with both KNEN-FM in Norfolk, Nebraska (man, they LOVE their Huskers there!) and WZLK-FM in Pikeville, a part of the East Kentucky Broadcasting group. I was telling my wife about the latest round of imaging pieces and I was immediately reminded of how the whole process has changed. It really wasn't that long ago that, while throwing in South Park drops into promo-pieces for "The X" in Knoxville, I secured my first client-station. Whoa....I am the "voice" of a station? Me? I'll always be grateful to Harry Kozlowski at WJYY in Concord, NH (who has a far better voice than I do!) for giving me my first station. As I was uploading the finished pieces to Walt May at EKB, I was really rather flabbergasted by what has transpired, technically, in the last 10 years.

I can recall getting a call from Harry about a promo that had to be voiced. 'JYY had access to some concert tickets and wanted to promote it during Morning Drive the next day. Here, in problem! "Hey, just email those lines and I'll jump on 'em and have 'em posted.....oh, in about an hour? Will that work?" But in 1998, well, it was a different story.

First, Harry had to fax the lines. Then, I had to record the lines a couple of times into this new device called a "digital audio workstation". I looked up at the clock. "Hmmm...4:10 p.m. The last Fed Ex pick-up is at 4:45 p.m." That meant I had to ask permission to borrow some clean quarter-inch tape from the station, play the finished "takes" back in reel time (get it? "reel" time?), listen back to the reel in real time to make sure things sounded fine, address the Fed Ex package, and then...literally...RUN downstairs to the front desk so that Mr. Federal Express person could whisk my little reel away to the state where Magic Hat brewery resides.

The only downside to that process is that Mr. Federal Express person had already "picked up"...and he was driving away! So, I had no other recourse run after him! And that's what I did. I ran down Kingston Pike, screaming at the top of my lungs for Mr. Federal Express person to stop his truck. Amidst traffic, as well as the pulmonary dilemmas due to being overweight, I managed to get him to finally slam on the brakes. Soppping wet in the east Tennessee humidity, I thrust my little reel at him, huffing and puffing a "can ya take this one, too?", and collapsed in a heap, right there in front of Long's Drug Store. Whew!! Concord morning-show listeners would get to win their concert tickets after all. And to think that some wish their "voice-guy" would "go the extra mile"? Hmmm....

Just to be clear: I DO NOT miss analog editing, by any stretch! And I do NOT miss tangled reels, splicing tape, dull razor blades, or typing labels for the top of the reel box AT ALL! However, I do sometimes wonder how many more things in our industry will go by the wayside because of the digital realm. The 7-inch reel is a museum piece. And, of course, the "Overnight Jock", in most places, is certainly a relic. Here at MAMM World Headquarters, I keep a small "token" from yesteryear, given to me by one of the engineers ("engineer....what's that?" you ask) at Sports Talk 980 in Washington, DC. It's an I-T cart machine that sits on the top shelf, and inside of it resides one Scotch cart with a label that reads "Legal ID". At times like this, when I get a hankerin' to take a meter-reading and I'm feeling all nostalgic, I reach up, pull that Scotch cart out of the deck...and then jam that sucker back in quickly so that it makes that unmistakable "plastic-hitting-metal" sound and line up my next two songs because, "hey, dude, gotta hang up. My Zeppelin Two-Fer is fading out and it's the top of the hour, so I gotta go, bro. Catch ya later!"
I'm getting all misty-eyed here.

In a little under six weeks, I'll be journeying towards the Buckeye State for a visit with the folks. It will also give me a chance to load up on Great Lakes Commodore Perry IPA, as well as Weyerbacher's Blithering Idiot, just two of many offerings unavailable here in America's Heartland. I wish there was as much beer selection as there are cornfields here. A man needs proper nourishment.

18 days until the bat hits the ball and Grady Sizemore is standing at 2nd, unscathed.


* Why not grab your favorite beverage, cop a squat, and groove to some DEMOS at

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