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!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Should I Worry?

Wednesday, January 20, the "Sousalarm" just before 7:00 a.m. was Frank W. Meacham's "The American Patrol," which dates from the 1800s, and which later became a hit record by the Glenn Miller Orchestra.  An Oberlin WCLV listener called and said (1) she keeps track of every Sousalarm on WCLV; and (2) I also played "The American Patrol" on January 20th last year. She thought I should celebrate on hitting the same date two years in a row.

Celebrate?  Perhaps not. It was a coincidence, after all.

More importantly, how many OTHER things in morning drive do listeners keep track of?  You are all full of curiosity and intellectual vigor. I wouldn't underestimate any of you.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Radio and Fire Alarms

When the fire alarm goes off by accident during your on-air shift, you must (1) figure out how to back announce the current musical selection between the ear-splitting "beeps"; (2) jettison the news and weather until the alarm stops; you'd get drowned out anyway; and (3) stay in the control room while the alarm frays your nerves.  This happened last week when the fire alarm panel malfunctioned somewhere in the bowels of the building.  After 15 minutes of every-two-second beeps, the alarm stopped, only to sound intermittently at irregular intervals for another 15 minutes.

After one break, a listener called, assuming that I was holding a contest to guess the sound. I told him there was no contest, only a malfunctioning alarm. All this points up that if there was a real fire, the show must go on. The announcer is obliged to stay in the control room until the flames lick at her shoes.

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."