Every now and then, we get a submission for The Cassette that requires a bit of a setup. That's the case this month. But we're not sure which is better, the production piece submitted for The Cassette, or the following setup....
I Can't Believe It! They Let It Go On The Air!
from Scott M. Statham, Production Director, WLAP-AM/WMXL-FM/WWYC-FM, Lexington, KY
Six hours of effort turned out a bit bizarre, and I really expected a veto. But the enclosed piece [On The Cassette] is what preceded the very first legal ID for Young Country 100 FM in Lexington, Kentucky.
WWYC went on the air at 4 p.m., Friday, February 19th, 1993, making this the first three-station facility in Lexington. The dates are somewhat fuzzy, but here's how it went down. Last October, after months of rumors (this is radio), the WMXL-FM/WLAP-AM staff got the official word that Trumper Communications would soon be taking over WLFX, Winchester. The station format remained undisclosed, but the ground breaking for expansion of our building was to occur in early November. The plan included a brand new digital air studio and a second production studio which also would be digital.
November came and went, as did December. Finally, in January, construction began. Also, just before the first of the year, equipment for the new air studio began arriving. Since the building wasn't built (didn't Gallager discuss this once?), the new studio ended up replacing our rarely used second production studio. I knew then that we were about to really have a need for that room, just as it was disappearing!
The first equipment to arrive were two DigiCarts from 360 Systems. A week after one of them was installed in production, I had it down. Then came the Ultimate Digital Studio (UDS) from TM and three Sony disk players, each with a 60-disk capacity. TM's technical guru, Ed, arrived a couple of days after the equipment to set it up and teach us how to work it. Since we still didn't have an air staff for WWYC, our engineer, the traffic department, and myself were taught the operation of the UDS. I was then chosen to teach the air staff when they arrived.
Our new Program Director arrived in Lexington about two weeks before WWYC went on the air. Since the UDS is a computer driven system, an enormous amount of information had to be input. There was no way the PD could do everything, so I "volunteered" to help. TM's library comes with cut length, intro time, out cues, etc., but all other music had to be listened to for that information. In addition to the music information, the UDS needs to know where each song can be found -- which player, which slot, which cut -- all this needed to be decided, then implemented. Kevin was glad to have my help. We were both glad to have the technical support of TM.
Then there was the job of creating our first log. TM's system follows a log which is generated by Selector. The traffic department prepares the commercial log and transfers it to disk. The commercial log is merged with the music log. They are then loaded as one into the UDS computer. We must have tried to do this fifty times before we got it right!! Again, thanks to Ed and company at TM.
Beyond helping to prepare the music and logs, I also had to produce all the IDs, liners, promos, etc.. Jingles arrived the week we went on the air. Since the DigiCart would provide all recorded information for the air, with the exception of the music, all of the above needed to be organized and catalogued.
Stated plainly, there was too much to do in the time we had. And that's not the worst of it.
We went on the air on a Friday. The following Sunday morning, lightning struck our tower and blew up the Isocoupler. What's an Isocoupler? I found out first hand. Having made myself an important player in the development of this station, the engineer again asked for my help. So, there I was on a cold, windy, February morning, at the tower, helping to remove our destroyed equipment.
Since the WWYC morning man, formerly the WLAP morning man, had nothing better to do, we tossed our Isocoupler in the back of the station Blazer and sent him on a four-hour trek to the manufacturer the following Monday afternoon. They fixed it Wednesday, and we had it installed Thursday morning. Unfortunately, something else had fried, and we didn't know it until the Isocoupler was re-installed. (Was God trying to tell us something?)
That replacement part took a Friday morning flight out of Atlanta, and WWYC finally went back on the air a week after we had done it the first time. There were many other problems. Three stations in one building guaranteed an RF problem, fragmentation of the DigiCart hard disk threw us for a loop, as did figuring out a coding system for our commercials, and on and on and on.
The night before we first went on the air, I stayed till 4 a.m. building the piece I've enclosed [On The Cassette]. The GM and PD didn't think what I'd created was exactly what they wanted. But, in the end, they let it fly. It was their thanks for my help.
But, believe it or not, I'd do it all again in a second. From the very start, the GM knew I wanted in. I told him outright that I'd be using this opportunity to prove myself for bigger and better things in our company. Way back when the word digital started appearing in the radio industry, I had decided that it wouldn't take a job from me, as so many others felt it would take jobs from them. Jumping in with both hands and an open mind has left me more secure in my position than ever before.