My Christmases In Radio

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I had the honor (and I always thought of it as such) to work in radio either on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, sometimes both days. I did so five straight years from 1989 to 1993, hit an unemployed stretch in 1994, and was in the biz but had the nights off in 1995.

Christmas of 1989 really sticks out for me, because of the big freeze we had that gave the Tampa Bay area a teeny bit of snow flurries Christmas Eve morning. This aircheck off of WDAE (then at 1250 AM on the dial) mentions the unusual forecast that weekend. I had the midnight to 7am overnight shift at WTAN radio on the night of December 23rd and morning of the 24th, but this night, it presented a problem with freezing rain and sleet in the forecast that night. My shift didn’t start until midnight, but I arrived at 8:30 that night just in case the weather made travel impossible later on.

The guy running the board before me was throwing a decent sized party at the radio station (who had a nubile blonde girlfriend who seems interested in me, though she was spoken for), and without any real prep to do, I heavily imbibed on some Budweiser beer among other beverages. It was only the second time in my life to that point that I had gotten drunk, young teetotaler that I was. As midnight approached, it was time to run the WTAN board, which was only playing a set of cassette tapes in a proper sequence. I always had a digital timer on me, so while the tape played for 45 minutes or so, I slept it off, getting up in time to change sides and play commercials. That morning, I aired J.T. Gardner’s gospel show from 6am-7am, and I don’t think anyone was wise to my inebriation, thankfully.

The next four Christmases I worked at Sun Radio Network in either the Feather Sound studios in Clearwater, or after 1992, at the complex in St. Petersburg not too far from the Home Shopping Network. Instead of talk radio, we played Christmas songs from 6pm Christmas Eve all through Christmas Day off of half a dozen or so reel-to-reel tapes. I’d play the top of the hour news from UPI Radio, later the USA Radio Network, then right after it ended it was Christmas music wall to wall, no commercials. I’d cut away from the music ten seconds prior to the top of the hour, hit the news, cue up the next reel, and do it all over again.

I loved the hell out of it, and looked forward to the Christmas programming every year I ran the board. It was the easiest shifts of the year for me to do, and it was a guaranteed night of no hassles and a lot of fun. Every radio station that doesn’t play music ought to do this every year.

But that’s just my opinion.

Tomorrow, a little treat to help you get into the Christmas Spirit…the post is scheduled for 6pm US Eastern time Christmas Eve.

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Author: tbpauly

Former radio professional (1989-1996), currently residing in Pinellas Park, FL. Blogging since 2004, at least.

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