On The Air
This is a piece I wrote while reflecting back on my college radio days and radio in general. Radio, though theater of the mind was relegated to the back burner after TV became popular in the 50s. If you looked like Dean Martin you got a TV show, but if you looked like Larry King and Howard Stern radio was your only hope until the 1990s when TV had run its course and was desperate for anything to fill time slots. This being, those in radio were often depressed and cried out for attention. Radio was and is still the second lowest rung of the entertainment business. Only lower would be clowns that work birthday parties and mimes.
Today I present to you my skit:
On The Air
Table, chair, microphone, headphones, a half empty bottle of booze, fake radio control panel, On The Air sign.
Cast on stage: DJ Don Roberts, a seasoned wise-cracking hipster career disk jocky. He sips from a booze bottle as he listens to each caller.
Voices on phone:
Jane from Alderbrook has the voice of an uptight woman, words are crisp, well pronounced.
Robert from Uppertown has a regular voice with a local twang.
Kelly from Uniontown has the voice of a high school boy or girl. All sentences end with an upward inflection like it was a question.
Skip from Smith Point has a mopey, whimpy voice like there is a dark cloud over him.
Shirley from Ilwaco has a bubbly enthusiastic voice.
Willie from Bond Street has a dopey voice.
Margaret from Knappa has a husky voice with a twang.
Cathy from South Slope has an educated female voice.
Craig from Warrenton any voice.
A single white spotlight shines down on the radio announcer as he begins his show.
Intro music fades, dialogue begins:
DJ: Good evening listeners. This is Don Roberts and I will be your host during our overnight journey as our planet hurls itself through the solar system into another day. In the infinite wisdom of the radio gods who sign my paycheck, our humble station is going through a format change. Yes, another one. We are trying to find our niche. If you are as tired of all the format changes as I am, please listen to us 24 hours a day, and buy all the products that our advertisers are pushing. This madness has to end.
OK, we were talking about a format change. If you were keeping score, last year at this time we played country music, but our listeners didn’t buy enough Red Man and Moon Pies to keep the advertisers happy. I pleaded with the listeners. I told them, “Please buy Red Man and Moon Pies every time you git to the convenience store.” Well they didn’t listen and they lost their only Country radio station.
Then we went to syndicated conservative talk shows. Why Rush Limbaugh had to lose his hearing instead of his voice is still a mystery to me. It was hard for me not to open the mike during his shows make noises to let the listeners think that Ol Rush couldn’t hear or control himself. Anyway, the sound of radios being turned off during his show was deafening, so maybe that’s why he lost his hearing.
After four months of that non-sense we ventured into the abyss of the caterwauling retro-70’s music. Man, we must have really had good drugs in the 70. That was the only way we could listen to that crap. And why radio stations try to revive it is beyond me.
Now, if you were listening a half-hour ago, you may want to dust off your bible and start reading it again because Christian Contemporary is no longer here on your dial. We have removed the Zion Curtain from these radio waves.
We are now embarking upon the second lowest rung of radio. Nope, not call-in sports radio; that’s the lowest. Our airwaves now belong to you. We are officially a 24 hour, 7 day a week radio phone in station. You can call us and talk about issues that are important to you, be it local, national, global or personal. I am here to take your calls at 325-0000. Give me a call, let’s chat.
OK, we have Jane on the line from Alderbrook. What do you have to say for yourself Jane?
Jane: Hi Don, I’m upset that you are not going to play all that inspirational music anymore.
DJ: Sorry, Jane. It’s time for you to turn the other cheek and forge ahead as we forge ahead.
Jane: Your entire radio station is going to go to Hell for abandoning the Lords Work.
DJ: Jane, we here at the radio station are already in Hell. That’s the nature of the radio business, and since there are no local TV stations in Astoria there is no hope for redemption or absolution for any of us who are employed here. May whatever gods you patronize bless your…never mind.
Next we have Robert from upper town. Robert, what do you have to say for yourself?
Robert: Hey Don! Love your new format.
DJ: Ho boy! Don’t get used to it. What’s on your mind Robert?
Robert: OK, well, I’m a fisherman, and I’m out on the water a lot. My problem is that when I come home after being away for a couple of weeks my girlfriend seems resentful for my coming home for the first couple of days. Should I dump her?
DJ: Whoa Cowboy, it isn’t her, it’s you. Believe me, I’ve been in bars when the fleet came in. You guys stink so bad from fish that you could knock a bull dog off a meat wagon with the smell. My advice is to come home, book yourself into a hotel, throw away your clothing, especially that stupid baseball cap, and the dirty white sneakers, and spend an afternoon in a hot shower with a bucket of borax. Then go visit your girlfriend a day late and everything will be fine.
We have Kelly from Uniontown. Kelly, what do you have to say for yourself?
Kelly: Hi Don, I’m in high school and I always wanted to become a disc jockey or an announcer on the radio. Can you give me any advice?
DJ: Yes! Don’t do it! However if you insist on working in the radio business, you should drop out of school, get married and divorced several times, and develop a taste for cheap alcohol. Living out of you car is also a plus. As long as you have a good voice and are able to read you can expect to make at least minimum wage in a small market like this. Remember, this is the lowest rung of the entertainment business. If you lower your expectations you’ll do well.
Next we have Skip from Smith Point. Skip, what do you have to say for yourself?
Skip: Hey Don. I’m in love with the most beautiful woman in the world, and she won’t give me the time of day. How can I win her over?
DJ: That is a big problem, Skip. Your problem reminds me of an evening I spent in the lounge of the Ship Inn. There were about five of us bellied up to the bar when suddenly this woman walks in alone. She was an absolute knockout. Four of us looked up with our mouths open, but my pal Hank only glanced quickly and returned to his beer.
“Hank” we said, “Didn’t you take a good look at her?” Then Hank said to us, “Somewhere, somebody is sick of her.” It was then that I realized that he was right. I always got really sick of all the crap that pretty women put me through. Now, Skip, the moral to that story is to go and fall in love with someone less attractive. What you want is that knockout woman, but what you need is someone who is “convenience store ugly.” So what if a couple of teeth are missing. So what if she smells like tobacco, she may keep aphids away form your houseplants. The “convenience store ugly” woman will love you back every time.
We have Shirley from Ilwaco. Shirley, what do you have to say for yourself?
Shirley: Hi Don, I calling from my cell phone. I’m driving across the bridge, and I have a lot to talk about.
DJ: I only have one thing to say, Shirley. Hang up and drive, you idiot!
We have Jane from Alderbrook back on the line,
Jane: Do you know why I’m calling back?
DJ: Yes, Jane. Because you can’t afford a therapist.
Next we have Willie from Bond Street. Willie, what do you have to say for yourself.
Willie: Yeah Don, my car is running like crap, and someone told me that I should put in some new spark plugs. I called a mechanic and he want’s 50 bucks to do the job. Someone told me it’s an easy job, so I’m going to try to do it myself. I have only 20 bucks to my name, can I buy four spark plugs with 20 bucks?
DJ: Yes Willie, I’m sure you can buy 4 spark plugs with your 20 dollars, and still have plenty of money left over for cab fare.
We have Margaret from the Knappa, what’s on your mind tonight, Margaret?
Margaret: Hi Don. I've met a wonderful man I'd like to marry, however, he is my ex-daughter-in-laws father. Do you see any problem with this?
DJ: Funny, this reminds me of a song I once wrote called "Did Your Uncle Play the Banjo When Your Father Married His Sister?" Actually, I see no problem with this, that is if you don't mind your family tree looking like a flag pole which has been decorated with cork screws. Margaret, before making this commitment, you would be well advised to travel outside your trailer park, and see what else is out there. Maybe there is a second or third cousin who would better deserve your passion. Also, please be sure to get your tubes tied before you continue down any of these paths, and remember that Veterinarians charge much less that regular doctors.
Next we have Kathy from the South Slope on the line. What’s on your mind tonight, Kathy?
Kathy: Hi Don, I work for a big local company. A co-worker asked me out on a date. We have a strict no dating policy. I explained the policy to him and his response was "rules are meant to be broken. I won't tell if you won't tell." He will not take “No” for an answer. He hasn’t been rude but he is persistent. I don’t want to jeopardize my job. How can I get him to take No for an answer.
DJ: Kathy, you can do this the slow way or the fast way. The slow way is to marry him, and divorce him and get half of what he owns because you had to quit your job to be with him. Or you can bring a sexual harassment suit against him, and get half of what he owns right away. You've obviously already said no to him, so you have grounds.
If this is unacceptable, you can tell him that you are three months pregnant, and you don't want to date until the baby is born. Men can’t stand someone else's baby. He will avoid you like the plague.
Craig from Warrenton is up next. What’s on your mind Craig?
Craig: Yeah Don, I have a blind date on Friday night and it's been awhile since I've been out on one.... Could you give me some etiquette tips?
DJ: Boy do I have advice for you, Craig, and I speak from experience with this one. There are many fine points that you must observe. First, don't mess with her dog. The dog is working, and should not be distracted from keeping her master safe. Next, do not use statements like "blind ally", "blind ambition", or "blind siding". If asked about your apartment, use words like "window dressing" not blinds. There are advantages of dating blind people. No need to dress up or even be attractive. You don't have to worry if you have something stuck in your teeth, and she won't be looking at other men. If she is a big tipper, she will not be able to see you skim some of the cash off the table when you leave. If you go back to your place for some "fun", leave the lights on, and bring out the video camera. Good luck.
Well the clock on the wall says it time for me to get out of here. This has been the Don Roberts show and I’ll be back tomorrow night to take your calls. So remember, if I don’t see you in the future, I’ll see you in the pasture. Good night Astoria.