This past April I paid tribute to Marion Watson, former station manager at KUOM, the University of Minnesota radio station that gave me my first real radio job. Just yesterday her name came up again, on the distribution list at the end of a KUOM Discrepancy Report I found in a box of memorabilia.
Here it is (interpretation to follow):
At 11:00 a.m. that Tuesday KUOM (770 on your AM dial) has been on the air for half an hour. Marty Croze is the engineer on duty in Master Control, an elevated cockpit from which he can see broadcast and production studios on all sides.
Betty Girling (BTG) is just finishing a chapter from whatever novel she’s reading, in installments, on Tuesdays. Betty is a remarkable woman, head of the Minnesota School of the Air (which deserves a blog post — if not a book — all to itself).
Sitting in nearby Studio Three is Curt Oliver, the station’s music director. Usually a student announcer would be handling the continuity chores between the morning programs so it’s likely he or she had called out that day and Curt is filling in.
Curt’s studio is a fully-equipped broadcast booth, with a Gates mixing console, microphone, turntables and tape playback, if memory serves. But its output goes through the Master Control board and can be turned off if necessary.
So Betty winds up her show, with something along the lines of “…and there we leave our story for today. See you next week.” At this point Marty starts the program’s pre-recorded close on cart (“cart:” a plastic shell that housed an endless loop of tape, not unlike an eight-track.) Nothing happens.
Pause. Dead air. While Marty scrambles to find the problem, Curt realizes the cart’s not working and decides to read the close live. He opens his mic and says “You’ve been listening to Betty Girling, reading…”
At that moment, Marty finds the button on the board that should have been on and hits it. The audio from the cart now mixes with Curt’s voice. A moment of panic — what to do?
Well, you could fade out the music on the cart and let Curt finish. Or you could go for option two: kill the input from Studio Three and let the cart finish. Which is the option Marty chooses.
Meanwhile, Betty sits silently in Studio Four, her On The Air light still illuminated. She may or may not be pressing her cough button. At some point Marty realizes she’s still live and kills her mic.
He also remembers to restore the feed from Studio Three so Curt can read the “weather, etc.”
All of this transpires in less than a minute.
I’m not sure who Janet is, but sometime during Betty’s program Curt or Marty discover her taped show is incomplete and Curt pulls some records to fill the next fifteen minutes with classical music (the only kind of music KUOM plays).
NPR’s Modular Arts service provides five or six short arts-related features each week, fed from Washington down the 5K phone line and recorded at each station. It’s my job to keep all the Mod Arts tapes, with their cue sheets, in order in my office. Clearly someone else must have switched the cue sheet (ahem).
Steve Benson is in charge of classroom lectures, which basically means recording a professor in his class (it was always a “he’), editing it, and putting the lecture on the air. Students can tune in and receive college credit. As I recall one of the classes Steve chose to broadcast was “Madness and Deviant Behavior in Ancient Greece and Rome.” I think half a dozen students signed up for it.
Strolling through the midst of all this is “Vici,” actually Vicki Lofquist, a reporter and documentary producer. She probably wants to make someone a courtesy dub of one of her programs, but now is not the best time.
The “left 300 in the record room” on which Vicki’s tape sits is an Ampex model 300 tape machine. There were three or four of them lined up in the room next to Master, usually taping feeds from NPR.
A very busy morning, indeed. I wonder where I was during all this?
This just in:
“I’m almost certain that Janet is Professor Janet Macy. She was an Ag extension specialist. We regularly would take a live feed from the “farm” campus studio some time in the morning. She would do a short interview show. Don’t remember the show title. It was rare that she would produce anything on tape.”
Thanks to former KUOM engineer Wayne L. for the memory jog.