Monday, August 03, 2009

I Was A DJ, I Was What I Played

Back in high school I was an FM radio disk jockey. I worked at a small local station, KEGR in Concord, CA, in about 1981. The owner was a radio and electronics buff, and had the station set up in his own apartment living room. It did not broadcast over the air, so he needed no FCC license, but instead over the city's TV cable system. We were a bit far from San Francisco, and many of the FM stations didn't have very good reception, so our city carried all the FM stations over TV cable. Simple, connect the TV cable to the antenna hookups on the back of your stereo and you had crystal clear reception.

It was an amateur operation, with minimal advertising (paid stuff during off hours), so the DJ's worked for free. It was a cool job. The owner worked as a manager at Radio Shack so he kept on top of his DJ's by playing the station over the store's stereo systems. Clever. I got to play all the rock faves of the time, and aside from having to play certain genres during the hour, it was free format, and the DJ's even picked the song within the required genres. If you played five Hendrix songs in a row, the owner would call you on the phone and tell you to cool it.

This was a one man operation. No engineers or call screeners. Make sure the phone was off the hook while the mic was on. Had to go to the bathroom? Put on a long song like Free Bird. One DJ took advantage of some 25 minute live Led Zeppelin songs to take a swim in the apartment pool. For such times, we had to be careful to not put on songs that had backward skips in them.

The listening audience was small, and there were a few high school girl groupies. You know, sixteen year olds that moved out and were living with fifteen year old boyfriends with guns. Rock 'n' roll stuff to be sure. The station's call letters, KEGR (The Concord Kegger) were funny to me later because they interrupted Harold Camping's string of radio stations on his network (KEAR to KEIR, I believe).

Wild times in high school.

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