Welcome to the glamorous world of Radio Broadcasting.
Yup- this is the radio station, no lie. This isn't the mobile remote they roll out to used car dealers on the weekends. This is THE studio of East Tennessee's very own WDVX, 89.9 FM in Clinton Tennessee, It's all inside this little tiny camper. But don't let this home brewed contraption fool you- this is one of THE hottest bluegrass stations in the country. And it's a non for profit operation, relying entirely on donations and volunteers to keep it on the air. The camper sits along the entrance drive to the Fox Inn Campground. Every time a car goes by on the gravel entrance road, a good sized cloud of dust comes into this place. So needless to say, we run the roof mounted air conditioner a lot. You can hear the low frequency hum every time the mic is turned on, which drive me crazy. It's even worse than a 60 cycle ground hum.
I met the owner of WDVX, Tony Lawson, one day, and mentioned that I was just down the street, and that if they ever needed a last minute fill in, to give me a call. Well, on a holiday weekend, I got the call to do a show on Saturday night. Keep in mind, doing a radio show is something I've only dreamed of doing. I'd been close, doing a lot of call- in wackiness with some of the big radio jocks in Chicago. It was done just for laughs, with my voice, it always seemed to throw them off, thinking I was a radio jock from another station or something, and pulling a prank on them. It got amusing and I kept it up for quite a few years. I've done a few voice-overs for radio commercials, I worked as a DJ and emcee for a high end mobile sound company, and worked in front of a few hundred people all the time. I did weddings, Christmas parties, and since we didn't spin records and were using custom made cassettes, we could do boat parties on Lake Michigan Ahh, those were the days. Anyway, I've been in front of crowds many times before, so radio was the thing I'd been working towards. But in Chicago, man, the market is impossible to break into. I did numerous demo tapes and sent them in, but I never got the gig.
That is until I moved to Tennessee and discovered this hot little radio station called WDVX.
I know, this is a huge photo, but you need it to see all the weird stuff crammed into here. Every square inch of the studio is used for CD storage. Note the car radio installed in the overhead cabinet, just below the pink "while you were out" pad hanging on a string. That's the only way to hear what's going out over the air, other than the speakers in the announce booth. The refrigerator has been removed to build a rack for the broadcast gear, the announce booth is actually set up on the upper deck of a set of bunk beds. The lower bunk is a storage area, which also contains the only other exit from the studios besides the front door, a kick out quick escape window. The one thing that you don't see in any of these photos is the roof mounted air conditioner which is in the middle of the "hallway". If I had a dime for every time I've banged my head into that thing.....
Here's the business end of the station- this is all stuck inside the upper bunk bed area, and it's only about 3 feet wide. Note the high tech weather forecast, torn out of the morning paper. There's an inside/outside thermometer on the wall next to the clock allowing me to give accurate temperatures at the top of the hour. The two CD players are totally different in the way they work, which makes coming out of the radio stations sponsors tags fun- ya hit the play button and pray it starts playing. The mixing console at the bottom of this stack of goodies is amazing- the thing is antique, but it's a workhorse. I've never seen Bakelite knobs this large in my lifetime...
Caught in the middle of a commercial break. And yeah, you'd better believe that clamp light in the upper left hand corner of the photo gets toasty after a while!
An oldie but goodie- this is the mic used to mic live bands when they come into the studio. This station is one of the most popular bluegrass stations in the South, and you'd be amazed at the top artists that stop in constantly whenever they're in the neighborhood. It's an ancient RCA microphone, but it's perfectly maintained and sounds great! When a band comes in, they are in Studio C, which is the little foam bench that runs the width of the camper at the front, which is in reality the dining room with fold up tables. Most bluegrass bands use a stand up bass, and to accommodate the lack of height in the studio, there's a small screened roof vent which they poke the top of the bass up through. You've got to love it!
And hey- now WDVX is being broadcast LIVE through the web!
I've finally found a long lost mp3 file of the aircheck from my first ever radio show.