Custodian of the Tiara of Traffic

Custodian of the Tiara of Traffic
Wearing a heavy coat indoors? It's Cleveland, folks. Of course we do!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Middle-Age Crazy

I just had to do it. Some people buy snazzy cars. Re-doing the hair is cheaper.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Anticipating Jetlag

Hosting morning drive puts you at odds with everyone else's schedule. Breakfast is well before 6 a.m., and lunch at 10 is too early for most establishments to serve a lunch menu. So you eat breakfast at 10 a.m., which is really your lunch, eating from the lunch menu later on is really your dinner, and so on. It takes about two years to adjust to the schedule you must maintain in order to host morning drive. In that period, you live in a constant state of jetlag. If you go out at night, and one should now and then, lay out your clothes before you go to bed, and make sure your car has plenty of gasoline, because it's quite possible that you will oversleep the next morning. In that case, you will be obliged to jump into, or throw onto yourself, the previously laid-out wardrobe, and you will leap into the car and set off for work without checking whether you have enough fuel to get there. And how many gas stations in downtown Cleveland are open before 6 a.m.? A few -- it pays to know which ones well in advance.

Friday, November 1, 2013

My Curfew

Hosting morning drive requires you to live 4 hours earlier than the listeners. For example, if you wake up at 6:30, the announcer wakes up at 2:30. If you go to bed at 11 p.m., the announcer goes to bed at 7. This means the announcer's dinner is at 2 in the afternoon, while yours is at 6. Going out at night is a rare treat, generally only on weekends, but even so, the body demands a nap on those occasions. I won't kid you -- to stay home when the rest of you are out at concerts and plays is a killer. But one must decide in favor of preparedness. I do make exceptions for important events. A recent example is getting to meet WCLV's "Idea Leaders" following a recent Thursday night Cleveland Orchestra concert. Another was attending a local theater tech rehearsal. Another is attending opening nights. All of them important, to the listening audience and to the organizations who value the presence of WCLV's on-air hosts.

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Did the salesperson in question become more timely, with less chaotic copy? No. But the "rest of the story" is that before burning the script, I photocopied it. Later, I recorded the spot, and no one lost any revenue.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

My Proudest Moment as a Broadacaster, Part II

After years of being handed ad copy to voice right as I was leaving work, one cold January day I'd had enough. The salesperson in question was famous for getting things to people late, and the copy was always full of errors. This copy was no different. From WCLV's back door, I picked up the coffee can, the one used for cigarette butts, and placed it on the front walkway from the parking lot to WCLV's entrance. A WRMR colleague's cigarette lighter was used to flame the copy, and I flung the burning paper into the butt can and let it incinerate. Suddenly, I heard a voice familiar to WCLV listeners: "Jackie... We have heat in here." It was WCLV's co-founder and then-president Robert Conrad, who, from one of the production studios, had seen the whole thing. "I'm protesting!" I said. His expression changed. "What are you protesting?" I didn't mention the salesperson's name, but I strongly suggested that salespeople provide better copy and get it to the "talent" in a more timely manner. Months later, I learned that when news of my bonfire traveled around the building, my reputation among my WRMR colleagues, all of them radio old-timers, went up about 3,000 per cent. They were impressed that somebody protested shoddy treatment by a salesperson. Years later, when a new sales rep was being indoctrinated, she was told: "You better make sure your copy is in good shape, or Jackie will burn it."

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

My Proudest Moment as a Broadcaster -- Part I

In radio, announcers -- known as "the talent" -- live in a circumscribed world of live air shifts, show prep, and studio work recording programs for future airing, plus voicing underwriting announcements or commercials, depending upon whether the station is public or commercial. Salespeople who are not distracted, who follow up, and who write copy that makes sense are exalted in my book, because that's a tall order. It's a rare salesperson who gives you copy that is grammatical, without misspellings and organized. Salespeople are infinitely flexible, except when it comes to thinking of how the spot will sound. They're usually frantic to get the copy written and produced and get it on the air to satisfy the client. The talent are the final link in the process, and the least thought of. Until I took decisive action, which I will explain in Part II. It's my proudest moment as a broadcaster, and all I did was apply a flame.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Rules for Early-Rising Workers

Here are rules for anyone who, like a morning drive announcer, has to be at work before 6 a.m.: 1. Make sure your headlights, turn signals and tail lights are in working order. There is no surer bust in the wee hours than a cop noticing your illumination shortcomings. 2. Add battery-operated clocks and radios to your wake-up regimen. If the power fails overnight, you'll still have one or more working alarms. 3. Keep snacks in the car in case the batteries in #2 have died and you're running late. At least you won't go hungry.