Saturday, July 30, 2016

Advice to fellow neurotics

Do you always get sick just before a big exam? Or big performance? Or big game? Your problem might not be physical.  Take comfort.  You could just be a neurotic mess.  Your ailments could be psychosomatic.

It has happened to me.

Going back to my erstwhile radio career as a screaming top 40 disc jockey in the ‘70s, I would always get sick just as a new rating period was about to begin. Back then I was toiling in medium and small markets and ratings were only taken a few times a year. People would fill out diaries and send them in. Results arrived a few months later and since there were so few rating periods, each one packed a wallop. One bad ratings “book” and you were generally gone. Stations changed formats, people were fired, and it’s not like you were Whitney Cummings – there was no NBC to give you eighth and ninth chances.

So the pressure was on.

And I got a horrendous cold every time a ratings period started. Not that I sound great anyway, but with a cold I was Elmer Fudd. It’s hard to scream over Osmond records when you’re underwater. What came out of the radio was me at my worst.

This must’ve happened on four or five occasions.

And then one time when I was spinning the hits on KMEN, San Bernardino (and ALL of the magnificent Inland Empire), I got my usual cold and decided out of desperation to just have some fun with it. I copped to the fact that I was sick, sneezed, and blew my nose right on the air. I asked listeners to call in with cold remedies. It turned into a very funny show. One listener brought me chicken soup. Another arrived with blankets. And the best was I now had a way of dealing with my psychosomatic condition. I no longer worried about getting sick. In fact, I looked forward to it. I now had one of my better sure-fire bits. So bring it on!

I never caught another cold before a ratings period.

Better health can be yours… by fooling yourself.

(One final note: Notice I didn’t end this story by saying… “and I never got fired again!”?)

This is a re-post from 4 or 5 years ago.


B.A. said...

WKRP IN CINCINNATI used radio ratings a few times as a Situation, though none of them resolved why the Johnny Fever character played oldies and whole album sides on what was supposed to be a top 40 station.

YEKIMI said...

Never worried about the ratings. By the time I started at most of the stations I ended up on, the ratings were so bad for the stations that the sound of a turd being flushed got higher numbers than any of the DJs. I think I said this before but at one station they had brought back a morning DJ who had been very popular years [if not decades] before. It leaked out.....well, I spilled the beans....that the station was being sold and the format was going to be changed. In the middle of his show he grabbed all his props, sound effects, etc. and walked out the door and was on the first flight he could grab back to California. Over the rest of the week it was like rats deserting a sinking ship. Ended up just being me and one other DJ left at the end so they put the owners put the station on automation and we just had to sit there and check off the songs as they played and go down in the basement to switch over the reels and carts on the automation system...we weren't even allowed to give the time and temp anymore. The final day even I was gone [but was still let into the station by the last remaining guy] and the other DJ said "screw it" went back on the air live and played whatever the hell he wanted. At that point even the owners weren't listening and at midnight the new engineer came in and flipped the switch to the new satellite fed religious format. The station still is around but operates out of a closet with just the satellite dish and computer spitting out their crap. Last time they did the ratings numbers game before they quit paying for the service the ratings were way worse than anything we ever had. They didn't care because they frightened the gullible idiots by screaming every 10 minutes "Send us money or your soul will burn in Hell for eternity."

Mike Botula said...

You caught a cold...and your adoring fans brought you chicken soup. You were free to blow your nose on the air. With me, I would usually get a sudden urge to go to the bathroom. Trust me! Nobody wants to bring chicken soup or cheer you on while you "go" on the air!

Greg Ehrbar said...

There are four stages to every cold:

• I Love Lucy
• The Lucy Show
• Here's Lucy
• Life with Lucy

Matt said...

@Mike Botula,

I don't know if anybody would bring chicken soup, but I am pretty sure a lot of listeners would cheer you on if you "went" on air.

DrBOP said...

Off-Topic Kid with a pretty great interview with the daughters of Lenny Bruce, Richard Prior and George Carlin....wide-ranging and some point, it will come to you how much we are missing their dads right now: