Monday, January 02, 2006
Meet Büch Literate
Brother ER whipped me up one of the best presents ever for Christmas: CDs of the ol' Erudite Redneck hisself back before he decided he had a voice for newspapering, back when he fancied hisself a radio man.
Yep, right out of high school, I marched right up to a little two-bit Gospel station and asked 'em if I could get a job emptyin' trash or something. I just wanted a job at the place, no matter what.
"No," the man said, "but we need an afternoon announcer."
"!!!," I said. "!!!!!"
And that's how I wound up with my first job in the now-pilloried "MSM" -- main-stream media.
I could tell a bunch of stories from my time at that little station in the Arkansas Ozarks. One I'll tell right now: It insulated me early on from gettin' fired from a media job. (They say if you haven't ever been fired from the media, you're not trying). How? By me gettin' fired from that first radio job.
The Highway 64 Freewill Baptist Church (name altered slightly to protect the ninnies) in Hogeye, Ark., (town name changed) wrote a letter to the station manager allowing as to how they -- and I mean "they," since every dadgum member of the church, it looked like, signed the thing -- were not going to listen to the station, or buy from its advertisers, as long as I was on the air!
It was 1982 or '83. There was no format to this radio station. They turned me loose in a studio with an RCA audio board that actually had that famous RCA Victor logo, the little dog lookin' into the big horn-like speaker on a Victrola, "His Master's Voice" on the front -- and I am telling the truth with my hand up.
Had to fold down the front of the board and blow dust off the tubes once in awhile. Had two belt-drive turntables flanking it, with two cart players and a reel-to-reel at top.
Now, those of y'all who know anything about radio and music know that "dead air" is a mortal sin. You know about segues, and you know that there is an art to fade-outs and cold breaks and fade-ins and cold starts.
Those of you who know anything about Southern Gospel music know that most of it starts cold and ends cold -- with so much of it being mostly vocal and four-part harmony at that.
Nowadays, I reckon it's real dang easy to segue from one song to another. Back then, on those old turntables, it took a kind of physics. Those old turntables, even playing 33-rpm albums, took about a turn and a half to get up to speed. I prided myself in bein' able to time a song by, say, the Happy Goodmans that ended cold and, oh, a Hinsons song that started cold -- with not a lick of dead air in between.
But it wadn't playin' the Goodmans and the Hinsons that got me fired. It was playing the Imperials and Petra and some other contemporary Christian stuff that got the Highway 64 Freewill Baptist Church in Hogeye, Ark., so fired up.
They said I was aplayin' the devil's own music. So, I got fired the day the letter came in the mail, about 8 minutes before I was supposed to go on the air.
Fortunately, I had just lined up another part-time radio gig at a station about 25 miles away, in Oklahoma, that played top 40 stuff. The owner of the Gospel station looked me in the eye and said, "You know you will go to hell for playing that music."
But neither of those is the station my dear Brother ER recorded for me back in 1984, and preserved all these years, and burned onto CDs for me for Christmas.
At this station, which played easy listening and oldies Top 40 (1960s and '70s stuff), my on-air name was the short form of my given first name and my middle name.
For purposes of this blog, then, my on-air name then, as a shortened form of Erudite Redneck, was:
"Büch Literate here with you at 7:12 on Monday night. Partly cloud and 78 outside. Nice and warm in here with this new one from Paul Anka."
Something like that. We played some old Büch Literate deejaying at Mama ER's house, and Dr. ER thought I sounded pretty good. Myself, I was FLOORED that I sounded halfway intelligent.
Back then, at age 20 or 21, with no mind whatsoever of going into the news business, heading to college the next fall specifically to studio radio-TV-film and to concentrate on production and performance, I was working hard to get rid of my eastern Oklahoma Ozarks twang. I have since let all that go, as anyone who has heard me speak, at least in the past 22 years, can attest.
"It's 8:45 on the Erudite Redneck Blog Show, with Büch Literate. A little nippy this evening since we've had the air conditioning on today, what with highs in the 70s the past day or two to start the new year! Up next, comments from some of the best blog readers in the country. See ya on the other side of this break."
Are you sure it wasn't what you said between records that done you in?
ER said:"Those old turntables, even playing 33-rpm albums, took about a turn and a half to get up to speed."
Didn't nobody ever teach you to slip-cue a record?
I had a gig once 10pm to 2am, just me, no engineer, no janitor, and no listeners.
And as far as what I said between records. I was scared to death. I just say hardly nothin' that wadn't wrote down on a card. Except one time when I dropped a cart, muttered "damn, heard myself in my earpiece (singular, no headphone set!), then said, a little louder, "shit!" as I reached to turn the mic switch back off, from bein' turned on by the falling cart. All of this as a record was playing. Nobody ever said anything to me about it, so I guess nobody heard it, or believed what they heard!
The other was when my buddy was working at a college radio station and we read the Bridge (as in the card game) Report, sorta like a sports report...
("Oh! Tough bid by West, but it is countered by South by...THREE! He bid Three! Oh the excitement is palpable here at the Bridge Tourney today!!"...etc.)
I did a time-change PSA Once, playin' off the Rapture. As in, somebody showed late for Sunday mornin' services not knowin' it had been moved to the fellowship hall, and wondered why all the cars were in the parkin' lot and nobody was in the sanctuary. Playin' off the Rapture. And the missin' thereof. ... Now that I think of it, that letter from the Highway 64 Freewill Baptist Church mighta been an excuse after all. :-)
I am anxious to hear some similar stories from Miss Cellania! Wonder how long she's been a radio gal?
ER, at least you has the sense to move on up to something better (at least better-paying). I'm still on-air 24 years later.
And segues are so easy now, all computerized, that I can take a nap right there at the board. Several times when someone walked into the studio, they got a real laugh out of me raising up and whacking my head on the mike!
Lest you think I don't do any actual work, I am in charge of 3 or 4 stations at once. Often alone.
Great great story, and I agree I think I might like that second half better also... with the cussin'