Thursday, December 25, 2014

On Being a Time Lord

Jocks who track radio shows (that is, to record them ahead of time) might as well be referred to as Time Lords.  Even the chicks.*  We sure earn the title.

On Wednesday when I went into work, I had already recorded the first two hours of that show the day before.  This was a strategy to help me keep the energy up and stories as fresh as possible for my Christmas show on Thursday (which is a tracked show rather than live for the holiday) and sustain the energy for the first two hours of my day-after Christmas Friday show, since I had to record all of these in a six hour period if I wanted time off on the holiday weekend.  Also, with a winter storm coming in on Thursday night, I wanted to avoid driving to work in up to eight inches of fresh snow and icy roads, and the possibility of a wreck or not making it in to work at all.

When I leave for work, it's 1:00 AM.  Snow plows don't hit the road until about 4:00 AM.  So the driving conditions when I must leave for work are always the very worst of the whole day and night, and my vehicle is not great in the snow.  Due almost entirely to these factors I wrecked my truck last year.  So I'm jittery about driving in snow storms.

After tracking the last two hours of my Wednesday show four hours early, it was time to track my Christmas show.  I had pre-loaded a folder with links and audio clips for bits; I opened the folder and my document titled "Christmas Show" with links to news stories like the stolen "leg lamp" (a replica of the lamp from the essential holiday movie "A Christmas Story", which was stolen from a liquor store couple days ago).  I built the story into a bit that ended with an audio clip from the movie: "It's a leg!  It's a lamp!  What a lamp!" and other similar topical bits with added value from holiday movies and TV shows well known and well loved by my audience.  Hopefully it made entertaining, relevant, fresh and compelling listening.  This is my dearest hope every single day. 

For the time you are tracking a certain day, you put yourself in that day.  You imagine that you are there.  You open the mic fresh on the day after Christmas (in your imagination) and announce, "Well, we survived another Christmas.  I dumped the leftover eggnog in my coffee.  Should have checked it for rum, though.  Well, hey, this will be a fun show if I don't pass out!"  It's crucial that the show sounds real and grounded in the very day and time the show will be heard.  We are exacting about our topics, our references and our energy and mindset.  We want it to be real.  So we have to be time travelers. 

It's not unusual to travel ahead in time to cut two shows and then backtrack to do the first couple hours of a show that occurred three days prior to that.  It's very common on holiday weekends and during snowstorm season.  As a result we're in a constant state of disorientation.  Most tracked air personalities have no idea, on any given day, what day it is. This is a time traveler problem.
And-all this is a dirty secret.  We must never let the curtain blow back to show the pulleys and levers. Nobody wants to hear that radio personalities pre-record shows or worse, pre-record in bulk.  We're not just Time Lords-we're undercover Time Lords.  And, we have limited time in which to execute all this genius.

Unlike The Doctor, we Undercover Radio Time Lords are at the mercy of snow storms, the news cycle as we delve for topics, busy engineers who forgot to send shows into the system or to send us the codes to access those shows so we can record them, sudden overloads of extra production work which put us even further behind, and crowded studio schedules. In the winter months when weather broadcasters throw the dice, we have to ride the numbers.  Will we get four inches of snow or eight?  Will we be able to make it to work, and/or make it without losing life and/or limb?  Should we record the first two hours of Monday on Friday?  Can we get enough studio time to do the shows when we can get into work?

We don't have spinning blue police boxes, but we do have temporal vertigo and generalized anxiety.  It's all part of being an Undercover Radio Time Lord.

It sounds so cool.  But, that's radio.  While it is a very cool job, it sounds cooler than it feels.  And it would be a lot easier with a TARDIS.

*According to wikipedia: "...the Lord of Mann, a title currently held by the Queen, and female Lord Mayors are examples of women who are styled Lord."

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