It's been eons since we've had "Uncle APAL's Story Time." Today's offering-- my first stab at getting a job in radio.
The passing of Paul Oles got me thinking about the old WCDL radio in Carbondale. Paul worked there for a very long time, before coming to WNEP. I applied for a job there in 1980.
I don't remember how I heard about the opening. I think there was a posting on the bulletin board at my college radio station. I made a phone call. The news director had me drive to Carbondale for an interview and audition.
At the time, WCDL was in a little old house on top of Salem Mountain, just outside of Carbondale. They used to call it "Melody Mountain." Cute. This is a picture I took yesterday, with the tower out back. WCDL was, and is, 5,000 watts at 1440. That's a pretty strong signal. Unfortunately, it's a daytimer. That means it signs off at sundown and comes back on at sunrise. In November, the station shuts down at 4:45 PM. It's 4:30 in December. Radio geeks, like myself, will delight in knowing WCDL has applied to the Federal Communications Commission for permission to go 24 hours. The night time power will be a whopping 37 watts. You can spit further than the signal will reach, but hey, it's better than nothing.
The news director gave me some wire copy to read, and I recorded it in the production booth. Not great. Not awful. We had a short chat, and I was on my way. It was one day a week, Saturday mornings. I really wanted that job to get my foot in the broadcasting door. It didn't happen.
I assume I'm like most people when they don't get the job they want. There's anger. There's depression. There's often a combination of both. I don't remember getting bent out of shape when I didn't get the WCDL job. I wouldn't have hired me. I was a sophomore in college. I was green and had yet to develop the fake radio voice I still use today. If I'm not mistaken, the job went to John Webster, now half of a very successful morning team at Rock 107.
I did get lucky a few months later, and hooked on at WARM. It wasn't much of a job, but I was thrilled to have it. My responsibility was running the Sunday morning religion and public affairs shows. Put a reel of tape on the machine. Press "play." Do the same thing a half hour later, and a half hour later, and a half hour later... The WARM job was just what I needed. I picked up so much knowledge there, and I weaseled my way on the air a few months later. I stayed for nearly eleven years.
If you remember local radio in the 60's, 70's, and early 80's, there was WARM-- and then there was everyone else. Still, I have to give the people at the old WCDL a lot of credit. It was a solid community radio station. It was in the schools, it broadcast high school sports, and it did all the small town events in Carbondale and the mid valley. I can count on the fingers of one hand the stations around here that are interested in that stuff today, and it makes me sad. WCDL isn't what it used to be. The studio is miles away, in Avoca. There is no community involvement.
I occasionally wonder what would have happened if WCDL hired me. I don't think my life would have been worse, but most certainly, it would have been different.