26 June 2007

Charmed Life: A Memoir {Part One}

This particular blog is based on actual events. In certain cases incidents, characters and timelines have been changed for dramatic purposes. Certain characters may be composites, or entirely fictitious.

There was a time when I woke up early, real early. I was awake as the city never sleeps slept. I rode the subway with construction workers and the homeless and that's it. You know that feeling when you've been out all night and you sleep for an hour or two before you've gotta be somewhere else? That's how I felt every morning; that chill; that hot shiver is hard to explain.

Walking down the middle of 57th Street on the yellow stripes like a tightrope I saw dudes on their hands and knees polishing up that gold embedded in the sidewalk outside the Russian Tea Room. It was me, a few circling taxis and the coffee truck guys unhooking their carts from their AstroVans. They all have AstroVans.

I worked for a big time raido guy. BS'd my way into a gig there and showed my face a lot, got known, pitched ideas and they liked me. I was somewhat covered in tattoos before the whole world was so I was still a freak and they enjoyed that, naturally. I got an offer across town at a rival shop but the money was better so I took it; heard through the grapevine that big time radio guy wasn't happy. Hearing that was bittersweet. Who the F was I anyway?

So I took this other gig and it was like summer camp. I busted my ass but it was fun work. I'd BS'd my way into this gig hot on the heels of my gig with the big time guy. The new shop assumed I knew what I was doing since I worked for big time; I didn't; I had no idea, I just made it up as I went along. I can clearly recall one of the interns being quite resentful that I had the gig yet I was asking him how to use the gear. Later that same intern learned what band(s) I was in and everything changed; suddenly he was cool to me and we became bro's.

The gig was a goof. I basically answered the phones during a radio show and screened the callers. I still miss that gig. I loved being the gatekeeper to the airwaves and having grown up making prank phone calls anytime my parents left the house, I was a pro at detecting when someones story was full of ish or when someone just wanted to get past me and on the air so they could yell some B.S. or attack the hosts of the show. I really loved that gig. I miss going to my cockpit everyday.

After the show we'd sit in the back office and brainstorm for tomorrows show: "Hey, how about we have some strippers come in and roll around in kitty litter to win Yankees tickets or we could have people bob for dogsh*t to win WWF tickets?!" Stuff like that. This was work. I got paid to do this ish and all the free swag I could wear or swallow.

It was the hot sauce radio era, circa 2000-early 2001. I say hot sauce because around this time all these hack radio hosts were realising how much fun you could have on-air simply introducing hot sauce to the equation. If there was a bottle of hot sauce in the studio, chances are someone was gonna dare someone to do something with it. Nearly every contest would somehow involve hot sauce; dudes doing shots of hot sauce, dudes putting wasabi on their nuts, dudes pouring hot sauce in their ears, etc.

There were just so many new upstart companies with products to hock to this particular male demographic; this was the dawn of Viagra and all these herbal wanna-be Viagras that promised this or that; it was all snake-oil smoke and mirror pills. But there was just so damn much of it that you had to think up ideas for contests on a daily basis, and it wasn't easy to do something a) funny b) fresh c) original.

Looking back, it was the final frontier for terrestrial radio; the new and final wild west renaissance. There was a window or a vacuum there when the FCC seemed to be busy with other ish. We did stuff on the air then that we might face jail time for today, and I'm not even being dramatic; if not jail time, we'd definitely be fired, immediately.

It was like Las Vegas before they ran the mob outta town and Wall Street before it got hosed down. But just like Vegas and Wall, eventually it would all come crashing and everyone would lose their jobs.

To be continued...

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