Thanksgiving, Shortwave Radio, and Uncle Neil

Last week, I had mentioned that one of the shows I ran the board for at Sun Radio had been unearthed: Stan Major’s debut on October 1, 1991. I had the honor of exchanging comments with Stan on that post, and I had reminded him about the show we did on Thanksgiving morning of 1991 on WWCR (World Wide Christian Radio), a shortwave station based out of Nashville.

Getting WWCR to carry the show, even for one night, was a big deal. Only two other shows from Sun had aired on WWCR: For The People with Chuck Harder (which by late 1991 was long gone), and Tom Valentine’s Radio Free America. Remember, the Internet wasn’t as easy to get for the home computer hobbyist (if you were one in the early 90’s) as it is now. These days, all you need is one station and the ability to promote your show and promote the hell out of the Tunein website or the IHeartRadio website or app. The bigger the show in those days, the more affiliates you had to have. In that particular time frame, overnight talk shows were ripe for the pickings. Larry King was in his swan song years at Mutual, plus Tom Snyder and Deborah Norville had shows that could be competed with.

I’m very proud of the work I did with Stan, especially. At Sun Radio, like Mutual or ABC at the time, his crew of the show consisted of one person: me. Larry King would have a person who ran the board, a person who screen calls, and probably a person or two who did whatever gopher work was needed. (I also didn’t have a union behind me either to insure I got paid well, working in Florida, as I would have if I were working out of NYC or DC.) That’s not me trying to brag, that’s a fact. Thank God I (or any of the other board ops) had a medical emergency (or fell asleep, as I once did for a few minutes on another show) of some kind, because whoever the host was would have been s*** out of luck had that ever happened.

My work on this particular show was not as good as I remembered it, to be honest. The last 15 minutes of Stan’s weeknight shows during this time frame where a Chinese fire drill, and I felt more like an air traffic controller than I did a board op! Not only am I answering phones (doing very light screening) and running the board, but I’m also getting the next show prepared, hosted by Max Stewart, calling him up on the Comrex. With that many balls in the air, s*** tended to happen, like leaving the outro music pot a little too hot at the end of the show.  Ouch.

At the end of the show, I get a call on the hotline we had set up for the evening from none other than Neil Rogers. This was three months before WSUN picked up Neil’s WIOD show out of Miami, so what I knew about Neil came from Stan. Neil asks me for Stan, and even a few moments after the show Stan is long gone. Neil’s in disbelief, but I’m telling him the truth. On top of this, Stan was filling in for Joel Vincent (Howard Hewes) for a 8pm-10pm shift the following night (Thanksgiving Night), on top of his normal 12am-5am shift, or 12 hours in a 29 hour stretch.

The call the farthest away that night wound up being someone in Scotland, but Stan also wound up getting calls from Canada and England as well.  Out of all the shows I did in seven years behind the scenes, it is the one that sticks out in my mind the easiest.

Again, thanks to John Baker, the Neil Rogers Archives and Stan Major for making this recording possible.

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