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           That Wild and Crazy Music Guy

My Career as a Radio DJ at NCSD

Fall of 1969 or more specifically; August 10, 1969 - The beginning of the two week football camp on campus. No, I was not a football player. As a matter of fact, I actually hated sports and the only way I figured I could get out of Physical Education in my last year of high school was to be a member of the "support team" of the football team. I was, back then, what was called a football manager. I was pulling duties such as waking up the players early in the morning for football practice which started at 7am before the heat of the day, prepping towels, ice packs, salt pills, and other football prepping stuff.

By the way, there were 2 football practice sessions during the weekday: one in the morning and one in the late afternoon to beat the heat of the day to avoid heat exhaustion, heat strokes, etc. In the middle of the afternoon, after lunch, there were play strategy classes for the players. I was not involved in the play strategy classes but there were free time for me between these practice sessions as well during the evenings after finishing up the managerial duties,

OK, so now you are wondering, what in the heck has this got to do with the Play List or me being a Radio DJ. OK, I'm getting there, I just had to set up a little background info before diving in.

Radio back in those days were pretty simple... very simple, either Talk, Jazz, Classical, Country, or Rock 'n Roll and the only decent station that we could receive in the mountains surrounding our campus was WMNC which programmed Talk in the mornings starting at 6am and Country until 6pm. At 6pm until midnight sign-off they were completely Rock 'n Roll.

Rock 'n Roll, eh? Well, guess who started the boom box fad on the shoulder, eh?

I loved to read and listen to music. My "The Raleigh Times" newspaper subscription would arrive in the daily mail call and I would plop down on my desk reading the paper with my roommates as well as the increasingly larger number of dorm mates and turning up the record player during the day and the radio during the evenings. My room was getting crowded, man. I just had to do something about this.

The middle weekend of football camp was actually a blessing in disguise. The dreaded Saturday morning chore duties came up and I, along with a few others were assigned to doing some chores in Upper School. My assigned chores were... you guessed right... retrieve all the old record player/amplifiers from the classrooms and stack them in the electronic room next to the library in the basement. Man, I was in hog heaven! My crowded room problem was solved!

Parts list for a dorm room studio:
Record Player/Amp -   check
Speakers - check
Wires - check
Microphone? Why not - check

These were readily had from storage rooms throughout Upper School because of the arrivals of newer replacement units. Wires and speakers were laying around so this is where recycling got started.

(By the way, it was this weekend that I took those pictures posted on this page).

Wired, from window to window, (who do you think coined Windows?) to a first floor dorm room 3 Doors Down and added a mike. Later in September, a second floor room was hooked up and still later, wired a speaker to a room next door.

Everything was hooked up, radio and record player. Whenever Rock 'n Roll stopped on the radio, Rock 'n Roll were spinning on the turntable.

We were rocking the house!

The only exception: no music was allowed during Study Hour.
Well, as a DJ, I had to turn off the system for that hour, but that did not stop me from listening to the radio. With my trusty soldering gun, all I had to do was join wires from a transistor radio's earphone jack and an unused hearing aid wire and earpiece, put the transistor radio inside my desk drawer and pretend I was wearing my old hearing aid. Old man Johnson was never the wiser.

By this time, you should be listening to around song number 39 - The Beatle's 'Come Together' and being gone for 2 weeks for Christmas and New Years.

January 4, 1970 - Sunday evening before classes; We had a fantastic Christmas! Randy received a 7' reel to reel tape recorder/player. We've gone "PRO!" says Donnie, 'The Playboy'.

Listeners threw records at me to record music to play during WMNC's non-Rock 'n Roll hours during dorm time.

So, during the course of 2-3 nights, a tape was made. This was absolutely fantastic! Play the tape at wake up, lunch time and after school. Bingo! Now we know what automation means. This was far out, man! I had a Rock 'n Roll station when WMNC was "dead"!

(Part 2)
Then...  later on in January...or was it February...anyway, it was one dark and cold night...
We were listening to our nightly ritual of Rock 'n Roll from the radio and right in the middle of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" and all of a sudden, there was silence....pure....dead....silence...I jumped out of my resting pose on my bed and dropped to my knees and started to check my connections. I checked my radio thinking the radio station went dead for some reason. Unplugged the radio from the system, nope, the radio played fine. Switched the amp to tape player mode and turned on the tape player and saw the signal meter moving but the amp was still silenced....mmmm....this is not good....switched the amp to record player mode and slapped down the first 45 record I laid my hands on and put the needle on the middle of the record. Silence still....

I looked up and saw a couple of dedicated listeners streaming into my room. Ouch, the heat is on! I hollered/signed "I'm working on it and haven't found the problem yet, so wait a few more minutes". I pulled the amp out of the shelf in my desk and noticed the tubes were not lit. Checked the fuse and put in another....no go...tried another fuse...again, no go. I looked up again and I was shocked that I couldn't even see the doorway in my room with the throng of dedicated listeners with the look of desperation on their faces.

Before I could say anything, I noticed some heads bobbling and a guy was making his way towards me and asks if I could fix it. "No," I replied, "the fuses are good and the tubes are not lighting up, so it's dead."

"Have you a spare?' he asks. "Yeah, in shop, at school," I answered, "but I can't get it till tomorrow."

"DANG!" he says, "We gotta do something about it, TONIGHT!" and then he walked away.

My dedicated listeners started leaving with some giving me words of comfort, saying tomorrow we'll be back in business and others saying they were going to bed earlier.

I started messing with the amp again, just to see if I could find a loose wire or something. I gave up and started to use my Johnson trick to resume listening to the radio on my own. Right about this time I was listening to the Sly and The Family Stone's "Thank You" when this guy walked into my room with a smile on his face carrying a amp with wires dangling behind it and laid it on my desk. I asked "Where in the hell did you get THAT?!!!....WHOA!...NEVERMIND!....DON'T TELL ME!....I don't want to know so if anybody asks me about it, I'll be telling the truth and I'll still get punished for it!"

I removed the wires and hooked it up in place of the old amp and lo and behold, we were back in business with the radio playing Sly and The Family Stone's "Everybody is a Star".

He proceeded to pick up the old amp and started to leave my room with it and I asked what he was doing with it. With a gleam in his eye, he said he was going to put this back where the new one came from so no one will know the difference except that it will be broken when the teacher tried to use it.

"PRO!" DM hollered.....

The next morning, at electronic shop, guess who received the work request to repair a broken amp?
Yep, you got that right! I went on up to the first floor and the teacher said it looked like a rat ate up some wiring behind it. I looked at it and said "Well, I'll just hook it back up and see what happens." I rehooked everything and, of course it would not turn on and told the teacher "Yep, it must've been a very big rat to do this. I'll go tell the janitor to set some traps." I left and returned with a replacement amp and it was all I could to to keep from bursting out laughing for the rest of the day.

The rest of the year was pretty much uneventful, WMNC decided to play Rock 'n Roll on weekends, except when they were broadcasting college basketball games. Weekend nights, we would burn the midnight oil, keeping our doors closed but we still played the music loud. Winter turned to spring and I still remade the play lists on the tape to "keep it fresh". The Apollo 13 incident was an opportunity for me to do a little "live" radio programming. WMNC had their updates from NBC at the top of the hour so what I did was recorded the news quip and replayed it at the bottom of the hour during their commercial breaks.

"PRO!" says DM....

There was, however, one night in early spring, that a "reporter" from The North Carolinian interviewed me and asked to broadcast it live. The interview only lasted 10 minutes and was never published.... or recorded on tape for that matter.

Easter vacation came and went, Randy returned with an extra tape reel, listeners gave me new 45 records to record...

"PRO!".....

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Article notes:
During the Tall Tales portion of the 35th Reunion, Berry enthused us Classmates about  my radio broadcasting career during our last school year in Hoffmeyer Hall, thus prompting me to searching and merging all my notes regarding my DJ career. The first half was completed and posted on February 15, 2006. Since then, I received quite a few requests to finish this article, so, after completing ongoing projects for this website and suspending other projects, I finally was able to finish Part 2.


This page was previously updated on 08/09/2009
 The Raleigh Times link was corrected on 06/08/2011.

                                

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