Saturday, November 17, 2007

How the quiet guy in the corner got into radio (Part 3)

Some people dream of being in radio or on TV. Some people thrive on the idea of being in the public spotlight. Not me. I've never purposely pursued anything like that. Prior to July, 1994, that would have been the furthest thing from my mind, and if anyone would have ever told me that I'd be on the radio, I would have laughed and I would have defiantly told them it would never happen!

But suddenly there I was, visiting a radio station, not for the purpose of trying to get into radio, but yet being asked if I wanted to volunteer as a part-time DJ. As I said in the previous post, I did pray about it but I really thought that would be the end of the idea. However, as much as I resisted the idea, and detested the idea, and laughed at the idea, and resisted the idea some more, I just couldn't shake it. Sure, I can admit that I entertained the idea of the "fame" aspect of it all, if only ever so slightly, but really that aspect could have never been enough to draw me into wanting to do this. If I was going to do this, it had to be the Lord leading me to do it, and nothing else.

I think I prayed about it and weighed things out for a few days. Most of the time my thoughts leaned very heavily towards not doing it. But again, I just couldn't shake it. I couldn't bring myself to say "no." This was not a legalistic type of nagging in my spirit. I really felt as if I was "free" to not do this, but yet the Lord really pressed it into my heart as if it was something He was leading me to do. Finally, because of the ongoing feeling that this was of the Lord (I knew it wasn't of "me"!), I decided to do it.

My friend Rob had another friend here in town who was also interested in doing this, and it helped me to know that I wouldn't be going alone into this. The two of us went up to the station and met with the Program Director, a man by the name of Mike Kapler.  Having had no prior training or experience, we set up a time to start training with Kap. This was a small AM station that was on the air from sunrise to sunset, so the training would be in the evenings after the station had gone off the air. Kap was about ready to go on a week-long vacation, so we had to wait another week to begin training. All the more time to become anxious and nervous about this and to question if it was the right thing to do! Yet I didn't change my mind.

Well, the week passed but my other friend ended up having a bicycle accident that hospitalized him (fortunately no permanent injuries)... so I was left doing this on my own! Aaaghh! So there I was, on the evening of Monday, August 1, 1994, sitting in front of the mic, looking at all the equipment and being as nervous as I could possibly be! Kap showed me what all the stuff did, and we began the training. Back in those days, we had a few songs that we played on CD's, but we still also played vinyl records, if anyone knows what those are. ;) We played certain programs on cassette tapes, and we also played spots and promos using the old audio carts (somewhat like 8-track tapes).

I quickly caught on to all the technical aspects of running all of this. It was easy for me to transition from a CD to a cart to a record to another CD, etc, and to press all the right buttons and move all the right knobs and switches. I wished that's all there was to it! I could handle all the "behind the scenes" stuff! But yet for some reason on radio they want you to do this thing called talking! That was definitely the hardest part for me. I started with the basics, such as, "That was DC Talk, now here's DeGarmo and Key..." But I felt very timid and shy. I still have some of my old practice tapes and I cringe when I hear them!

Of course, fortunately I wasn't "live." I spent two hours that first evening in training. Mostly what I did was to begin playing songs, then fast-forwarding to near the end (or moving the needle on the record), and then turning on the mic and practicing speaking. I would start playing the next song while I was talking, learning how to talk over the ramps of songs, and I simply kept repeating all of this. Tuesday evening was two more hours of the same, and Kap asked me if I wanted to come back Wednesday evening and practice some more. So I practiced off-air for two more hours on Wednesday.

But then Kap pulled a fast one on me! He asked me if I wanted to come back and do the same on Thursday. I was essentially under the impression that I'd be in training for at least two weeks, and probably much longer than that. I could use all the practice I could get! I was FAR from even close to being ready to actually be on the air. So I said I'd come back on Thursday. But then Kap looked at me, kind of slyly, and said, "Actually... what I was thinking... is that I'd put you live on the air during the last hour tomorrow."

Just two and a half years prior I had overcome panic attacks, but I almost came close again! I think I wasn't sure if he was serious. I mean, I had mumbled and fumbled through only six hours of training, and I was to go live the next day?!?! But he was dead serious and I made my "live" debut on Thursday evening, August 4th, 1994.

(Whole series: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4)

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