I've been a professional broadcaster for over 35 years. One of these days I'm going to write a book about my adventures in radio. Looking back, one of the funniest stories is about my first ever live broadcast. It was during a heatwave in July of 1983.
Many of you might think my first live broadcast was at the Sussex County Farm and Horse Show. It was at a fair but not the one in Sussex County. The first radio station I ever worked at was in Warwick, New York. My first live broadcast was at the Orange County Fair in Middletown. If ever there was a "Baptism by fire" this was it.
I was fresh out of college only with the station for a month. We were live at the fair the entire weekend so everyone on the air got a long shift. Mine was Saturday from 12 noon to sign off. Which was sometime after 7 PM. Temperatures were in the 90's. I was under a tent on the midway by myself with about 30 vinyl records to play.
We actually brought the radio station's production room board and turn tables out to the fairgrounds. I struggled for hours trying to cue up records in 90 degree heat and stop people from taking the few records I had to play. A couple of times people lifted the needle off the record while it was playing on the air. Did I mention I had nothing to drink?
Since the production room board was not meant to be portable it kept cutting out. There were times when I didn't know if we were on the air or not. We didn't have cell phones to call back to the studio either. I was learning a major lesson real fast. In a disaster you just have to do the best you can.
Then there was one more surprise. As the late afternoon sun got more intense the vinyl records I was playing started to melt on the turntables. Finally, by a little after 7 it was over. Except for the heavy lifting. You see, I still had to wait for someone to get to the fairgrounds so we could put the production board and turn tables into the radio station van.
Things are much better today but I still help my techs set up and carry equipment for our live broadcasts. They always tell me I don't have to but I do it anyway. I honestly appreciate what they do because 35 years ago I learned how impossible my job would be without them.