Monday, June 6, 2005

My First Day At Work

Monday afternoon, I had a chance to talk with someone who's in an entirely different line of work, but who had a common history. Well, not common. But still common.

You see, I'm a software analyst. Or something like that. I work for an Evil Corporation (to hear some talk, all corporations are evil, and I'll go along with a gag) and help with some of their Web sites. It's a fun job. But it's not the most fun job I ever had.

And Monday, like I said, I was talking to someone in the medical field, and he said one of the most fun jobs he ever had was similar to the most fun job I ever had.

It was July 20, 1975. That was a Sunday. And I was 17 years old.

Now, I had done other jobs, or more accurately worked, doing farm work, like picking peas or beans and such. But an actual job where you go to a place and have a time card and at the end of the week pick up a paycheck and have deductions and such? This was my first.

It was at a radio station. Now, I've mentioned this before, about working at the radio station. It was a little AM/FM station in a little town in southeast Georgia.

The AM was a country music station. Mostly. On Sunday mornings, they'd play two types of Gospel music. From sign-on to about 9:00 AM, we'd play what was called "Spirituals" which simply means Black Gospel music (think Shirley Caesar or The Blind Boys Of Alabama and such). From 9:00 to noon, we'd play Southern Gospel music (think The Happy Goodman Family or The Florida Boys and such). Then country music for the rest of the day and week. Oh, after ABC News at the bottom of the hour, we'd play a Gospel record. It was called the Hymn of the Hour. One wise-ass dubbed it the "Hemorrhoid of the Hour." I tell you, there's nothing like radio station humor.

The FM station was an Adult Contemporary station. Mostly. In the early mornings, from sign-on (6:00 AM) until 8:00 (or later, 8:30) it was simulcast with the AM station. If you're not familiar with "simulcast," it's from "simultaneous broadcast." Which means both stations played the same thing at the same time. Anyway, after Paul Harvey at 8:30, the stations would break, and the FM was a big tape machine that played songs and commercials and taped weather and so on. At the noon hour and at 5:00 PM, they simulcast again for news and sports and such.

At 5:30, they'd change format to the "Soul Show." Today, it's known at Urban. Used to be knows at Rhythm & Blues. And Soul. And Black. And who knows what else. But, it means predominately Black artists and predominately Black audience. That was until 7:00 PM (later, 'til 7:30). Then the "Hot 100 Show" would start. That would be popular music, based upon Billboard's Hot 100 chart. And the 7:00 PM to midnight shift eventually became mine. But not at first.

On July 20, 1975, I came in that Sunday afternoon for a Braves game. You see, in addition to playing music, we also carried sporting events. And that meant Atlanta Braves baseball. And University of Georgia football. And Georgia Tech football. And Georgia basketball. And NASCAR races. And local high school football, baseball, and basketball. And Atlanta Falcons football. And Georgia Southern College (later, University) football. And GSC (GSU) basketball.

You have to wonder when we had time for music. Well, we did on occasion. But it was okay with me when we had sports. Because we carried the Braves on the FM station. Remember, they had the big automated tape system that played music? Well, those machines can't do Braves games. You need a warm body for that. And I was a warm body.

I enjoyed doing Braves games. Sure, the Braves got their butts kicked on a regular basis. In 1975, they lost 94 games and ended the season 40½ out of first place. And, sure enough, they lost their game on my first day of work, 5-4 to Montreal in 11 innings. But, despite the loss, I enjoyed the heck out of it.

As it turned out, I must have done a pretty good job, because I quickly became the one they called in for day games all the time. And, they finally put me on the board playing music and announcing songs and such. Friday nights, doing high school football, had it's drawbacks. But somebody had to do it, and the other high schooler who usually worked Fridays was in the band, so he got off during football season. And, after football season was over, I got a regular weekend shift. And eventually, Saturday and Sunday nights.

After the school year ended, the Monday-Friday guy left. But I didn't. And I inherited his shift. Which had me working seven nights a week. And, one crazy Sunday, I signed on and stayed there all day long. That's a lot of different styles of music and programming to go through.

But, when you think about it, I was a teenager. I was paid to sit up 'til after midnight. And I was paid to play songs I liked. Although the pay wasn't that great, it was still the best job I ever had.

What was yours?


  1. I've had a lot of crazy jobs (at last count, something like 26 jobs in my lifetime), and the best (or at least most interesting) job I ever had was not as the "professional sportslady" you know me as today.
    I grew up in Suburban Detroit, and when I was a freshman in college, the Detroit Pistons got a brand-spanking new arena, the Palace of Auburn Hills. Yeah, it's still there.
    For two years, I worked there as an "arena hostess," which is a glorified term for "usher."
    I saw (I'm guessing) about 100 concerts, ranging from Air Supply and New Kids on the Block, all the way up to David Bowie and Aerosmith.
    But the coolest part of the job was working the Pistons games. In 1989 and 1990, the first two seasons at the Palace, the Pistons won back-to-back NBA titles. In fact, in the two years I worked there, I never saw them lose a single home game. Maybe I was their secret weapon...

  2. Hmmm. I wonder if I could have been an "arena hostess?" Nah, I probably don't have the temperment.

    Seriously, that sounds like it was a cool job!


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