My radio anniversary

WSWN building in Belle Glade, early 80's.

WSWN building in Belle Glade, early 80’s.

So, I thought today was my radio anniversary. I thought today was the day 35 years ago I applied for my first ever job, which just happened to be at a radio station. I was wrong — it was a month ago.

It was on June 30, 1980 I filled out an application for an on-air gig at the local country station in my hometown. I was still in high school, but it was summer break and I was looking for some extra cash. I also had a job possibility lined up working the stock room at a drug store, but I figured radio would be so much easier. Sit there, spin records, talk, check off commercials? Sign me up!

It was country music, which I abhorred (I was already deeply in love with prog rock at the time), but it seemed like such an easy gig. Moving boxes in a stock room just didn’t compare.

I must have passed the interview because a few days later (I’m sorry, I don’t remember the date) I got the job at WSWN-FM in Belle Glade, FL. (The station’s still there, now it’s called WBGF The Bar and it’s a rock station. Oh, that they would have let me play rock back then!) There wasn’t much of a format to follow – there was a stack of 45 rpm records and a few albums in the studio, and my job was to just make sure there wasn’t any dead air. No music log, no rotations. There was Mutual News at the top of the hour and Florida Network News at the bottom. Maybe a maximum of 4 or 5 commercials an hour that we were supposed to play whenever. Music was on records at the time. I still remember cue burns. I still recall which labels used cheaper material and whose records would cue burn after just one play.

By 1982 radio made me look like this.

By 1982 radio made me look like this.

And while we were a (barely-formatted) country station during the day, at 8 PM this dude called Nat the Cat would come in and play soul and r&b records until midnight. Yes, those were the days. Imagine a station doing that today. After Nat, back when we kept the transmitter on all night, there was the Larry King show. Yes, that Larry King. Oh, and there were high school football games we carried live — and some on “tape delay,” which meant playing it off a cassette player while holding it up to the microphone.

I didn’t intend for it to be a career. Somehow it just happened. I just kept doing it. Eventually I moved to Stuart, FL, then to Orlando, then Miami, and finally to L.A. Not a bad track if I say so myself. Along the way I’ve done about everything in radio except be an engineer or a salesperson. I’ve been a DJ, a program director, a talk host, I’ve invented formats, and here in my new halcyon days I’m a news anchor.

I’ll keep doing it until I figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

Unthinkable?

Lafayette shooting

Why do we still refer to mass shootings as “unthinkable”? They happen so often they fit the very definition of thinkable. Our first response when we hear of them now is, “Another one?” We’re not surprised and they’re almost commonplace. Hardly “unthinkable.”

I suspect we use the word “unthinkable” to fool ourselves into believing they’re not regular occurrences in American life. We try to relegate them to some other room in our minds so we don’t have to face the horrific truth that that this is the new normal.

No, laws won’t stop all criminals, but they can reduce the numbers of victims.

RANT ON. This is not an invitation to an argument, I just want to get it off my chest.

Locked doors don’t stop thieves, but we lock our doors anyway. Why? Because it reduces the chances.

Car alarms don’t stop car thefts, but we have alarms anyway. Why? Because it reduces the chances.

Once upon a time, people wanted to do something about the huge number of casualties from drunk driving. They called for stronger laws. People opposed argued laws won’t stop drunks from driving. But we strengthened the laws anyway, increased the penalties, lowered legal intoxication limits… And no, it didn’t stop all drunk driving, but incidents of and accidents caused by drunk driving PLUMMETED. The number of victims went down. Yes, there are still victims, but there are a lot less than there used to be. And THAT’S the idea.

The purpose of criminal laws is not to stop all crime. That’s impossible. Even though we have laws against theft, rape, assault, fraud and so on, those crimes still happen. But we don’t get rid of the laws. Stiffer laws may not deter all criminals, but they deter some. And THAT’S the idea.

If the fact that criminals will break a law is a reason to not have a law, then we shouldn’t have any laws at all. But when laws are well crafted, well targeted, and not full of loopholes, we know from history they can and do reduce the chances of crimes happening, or it least the number of times they happen.

We can’t stop all tragic incidents. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do everything we can to stop some of them. We can’t save all victims, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do everything we can to reduce the number of victims.

Apply this to whatever current event you will.

RANT OFF.

Sleepy time

Depending on Diphenhydramine (Benadryl and many over-the-counter sleep meds)┬áto help you sleep too many nights in a row can give you weird half-dreams… You’re not fully asleep, you’re still halfway awake. It’s more like hallucinating than dreaming. And once you realize you’re hallucinating, your body tries to snap you out of it, and you learn a fear response to falling asleep that can stay with you for weeks.┬áMelatonin and Calms Forte have the same effect on me after a couple of days.

I had one of those half-awake dreams where my dog and cat were alive again. Orson and Cecil were walking around the house, normal as anything, when suddenly I stopped and realized they weren’t supposed to be alive. “This isn’t right,” I said, as my brain began jarring me awake. “We die all over again every time you do that,” they said right before I jerked awake.

No more Diphenhydramine.

Batman v Superman: Zack Snyder finally finds the way to tell his story

Watching the Batman v Superman trailer, it seems Zack Snyder, who tried to address the morality and consequences of a “superman” in the under-appreciated The Watchmen, may have finally found the proper vehicle to tell that story. And DC seems committed to letting Marvel have comic book fun while it tries to find a deeper meaning in the whole superhero myth.

I’m cool with that.

Back in the olden days

Once upon a time, music was also art and sculpture.

(Wow, thanks, WordPress, for letting the bloggers who use your service embed Instagram photos. That’s sarcasm, by the way.)

Old school. And Squire’s bass riffs from Does It Really Happen is still the best.

A photo posted by Rob Archer (@archerpix) on Jul 3, 2015 at 2:11pm PDT

Community bombs, but Other Space is the bomb

Other Space

I finally got around to checking out some of the original TV shows on Yahoo Screen. Yes, I know I’m late to these particular parties, and Yahoo doesn’t make the same kind of splashes as new shows on Netflix do, but I had some downtime and I was bored enough to dive in.

I loved Community when it was on NBC, even that disappointing season when the creator left the show. But its rebirth on Yahoo is, damn, I hate to say it, utterly bland and not very funny. It’s trying WAY too hard to be Community but the attempt feels lifeless. Maybe it gets better but I’m not inclined to watch any more.

On the other hand, Other Space is completely lovable in the way Community was when it began. I’m hooked on it the same way I’m hooked on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Neflix. Other Space is worth checking out. It’s Star Trek (cheap sets and all) meets quirky workplace sitcom. It’s a formula that’s been tried before with disastrous results (Quark, I’m talking to you) but this one works on the strength of its characters.

(There’s a Roku app for Yahoo Screen but it’s not very dependable. You’ll have more luck just watching on a computer.)