|If you’re a regular
person with a regular job, you can say pretty much anything you want at
Two jobs that require you to watch your mouth are radio announcing and being the Pope.
I’ve been a radio announcer.
Back in 1985 or so, I was doing the morning show at Vancouver’s CFMI-FM.
Since I cannot seem to push buttons and talk at the same time, I work with a board operator. It’s the board operator’s job to take care of all the nonsense that just creates a distraction for the guy who’s on air: cueing up the music, loading and firing off the commercials, and filling out the log. I favor this setup (Fig. 1) because it gives me more time to think (hard to believe if you've ever heard my show).
But the board operator doesn’t necessarily run everything. In this case, I had my own tape cartridge players, three of them in a stack, that I would use to play the all-important FUNNY NOISES that make morning radio shows so annoying to listen to. I had to play the funny noises, I felt, because it took the delicate and precise timing of a seasoned professional to know exactly when to drop in a fart sound effect.
The only other thing I controlled was my microphone. I had a small metal box that sat on the desk, with a single pushbutton on it. Pushing the pushbutton turned the microphone on and off.
The cartridge player stack stood about a foot high. It became a habit to put my coffee cup on top of it. Hey, why not? It kept the coffee cup out of the way.
I introduced The Steve Miller Band’s “Abracadabra”, got it on the air, and leaned back to engage in idle chitchat with the rest of the morning crew. Then I leaned forward and reached for the coffee cup.
Except I didn’t quite engage the handle.
The coffee cup slipped from my hands, fell downward (as objects on this planet are wont to do) and landed, dumping scalding hot coffee into my lap.
“F**K! S**T! P**S!”, I exclaimed, but without the asterisks.
Then I took a closer look at the scene of the disaster.
On its way to my lap, the coffee cup’s trajectory hadn’t taken a direct route. (Fig. 2)
It had paused in its downward course to bounce off the microphone button. Which of course meant that the mike had been on during my outburst.
I did the brave thing: Swore everyone to secrecy under penalty of death, and told them to deny everything if questioned by management.
The expected flood of phone calls from our millions of listeners did not materialize. No one in management said anything. After a few weeks, we started breathing again.
A year later I was attending a Grand Opening of Something, and enjoying some free booze, when the Sales Manager of another radio station sidled up and hissed “I heard what you said.”
“Wudja mean?”, I asked, knowing full well what he meant.
“I was on my exercycle, wearing my Walkman, and I heard what you said in the middle of the Steve Miller Band.”
“What was, that, John?”
“F**K! S**T! P**S!”, he replied.
“Mind your language, sir’, I cautioned him. “There are ladies present.”
Of course, I did the only decent thing I could do, and told him he was hearing things.
But you can’t help but wonder how many other Walkman owners went down to the record store to ask for the special mix of the The Steve Miller Band’s “Abracadabra”.
In retrospect, I realize I could have sued the company for millions like that lady did McDonald’s when she spilled their coffee in her lap.
Dang! Another opportunity lost!