12:43 Memories

It’s funny, the things that stick in your memory. What you choose to remember, and what you don’t. 

People will look at that 12:43 in the title of this entry and think it’s a time of day. In this instance, it is a time of hour. 

When I worked at the Sun Radio Network in Clearwater, than later in St. Petersburg, 12:43 was almost always the time of the hour (12 minutes, 43 seconds) that the first network break occurred, where whoever is hosting had to stop what he or she was doing in order for commercials to be played, and for the proverbial “cash register” to be rung. 

Here’s the thing: if you heard the show on radio and had a watch or clock set to the exact time, the break commenced at 12:50, not 12:43.

That’s because we, and many other stations and networks in the radio business had a device known as a seven second delay, just in case someone used a word not approved by the FCC. If we began the show at seven minutes past the hour, what actually was aired and said over five minutes and 43 seconds took you five minutes and 50 seconds to hear. 

If someone did use one of those seven dirty words the FCC did not approve of, I would hit a small yellow button called a “dump” button. That would wipe out the seven second delay and jump the show that much farther ahead instantly.

Using normal pauses a conversation gives you, the delay builds back up, and once again there’s a seven second delay within about two to three minutes, provided nobody else curses within that time. 

And that’s how 12:43 got stuck in my head, and apparently, has stayed there. 

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