I’ve been signing on at WGTD every morning this week, which means covering one of the liveliest shifts in the broadcast day – NPR’s Morning Edition. It means pulling news stories off of the Associated Press wire, writing other original stories, and then jumping in all morning long with weather breaks and other announcements at the appointed times- right to the second. Fortunately, all has gone well . . . even on those two mornings when I slept a little too long and was frantically rushing around to get everything done in time for my first live on-air break at 5:59 a.m. Somehow I always managed to get everything done in time – and managed to avoid any major mishaps.
Oddly enough, Friday morning was when the my biggest mishap of the week occurred- – – although by then, with four mornings already under my belt, I should have at the top of my game. . . and I actually walked in the door of the studio at 5 a.m., a full hour before my first break – so I should have been at my very best.
Well, I wasn’t – My 5:59 weather forecast was a little bit bumbled- and as I started my 6:04 newscast of local and state news, every other phrase seemed to come out a little bit awkwardly. Not terrible but far from perfect. (I had a ferocious couple of days coming up, and maybe I just had too much other stuff on my mind.)
Halfway through that newscast I had settled down and was feeling very smooth and confident, when I suddenly realized that i was hearing other voices over the monitor in the other room- when all I should have been hearing was my voice alone. I double checked the control board and realized that I had somehow failed to disconnect the station from the state network – – – and nothing I had said over the air had been heard by anyone except me! Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb. . . and it was certainly humbling to commit such an idiotic error. I am, after all, the elder statesman at the station and one would hope well beyond such errors. (The silver lining is that my error also meant that no one except me had heard those rough breaks.)
It brought back memories of a comical error made by Marshall and me back at Luther the first time he and I tried to sign on the college station on a Saturday morning all by ourselves. Marshall was actually the one who had been shown the finer technical points of the setup, so he was pushing the buttons that morning, while I was in the front room with the associated press teletype machine, gathering news. Suddenly, Marshall called out to me from the other room “Greg, we’re not on the air!” “Are you sure,” I asked. “Of course I’m sure,’ he replied rather crossly. A few moments later, the phone rang, and it was the very calm, measured voice of Marshall’s dad . . . saying “Greg, would you please let Marshall know that he is on the air.” They had heard every word of our exchange and so had everyone else tuned into KWLC that morning. (What tripped Marshall up was that whenever you turn on a microphone in a studio, the speakers automatically shut off – the proper term is that the speakers are “defeated” – but he momentarily forgot that, so when he didn’t hear himself over the speakers, he was convinced that he wasn’t going over the air. But he was. Oops. Fortunately, he didn’t say “of course I’m sure, you blankety-blank.” That would have been worse.