Thursday, March 3, 2011

All Night

I was walking the beagle the other morning, my iPod along for entertainment.  Sugarloaf's "Don't Call Us, We'll Call You" came around in the shuffle.  A couple lines really caught my ear.

I got your name from a friend of a friend,
who said he used to work with you.

Remember the All Night Creature from Stereo 92.

That got me thinking.  Are there any "all night" DJ's left? 

I did two special assignment reports on radio a couple years ago.  One jock told me that there's not a "live" person in their building after 9 PM.  The other topped it, saying the last "live" person leaves the building at 5 PM.

To save money, most stations "voice track" during late nights and overnights.  You're not listening to a live person.  The jock's voice is on a computer file, and there are many times that jock is in a different city than the radio station.

Some of my early radio days were spent as a late night and overnight DJ.  It's a different world.  The audience is smaller, but there's a bond between listener and talent, more so than other shifts.  Most of the audience didn't want to be up all night, but there was work to do, children that needed to be cared for, insomnia to be battled, and a thousand other reasons.  I think people appreciated knowing there was a live body out there, experiencing some of the same things.

For many, listening wasn't enough.  They'd give you a call once in a while.  There is one woman, during my WARM years, in the early 80's, who I remember vividly.  It was a long time ago, and she was up in years.  It's very likely that she's in a better place now.  She was just a lonely woman on Butler Street in Wilkes-Barre, up in years.   She wasn't a good night sleeper, and the noise from the nudie bar next door made things worse.  She called every night.  There were some nights I didn't feel like talking, but I always gave her a little time.  She needed a friend.  I was glad to be one-- for a few minutes on the phone, and several hours on the radio.

Weekends and overnights used to be the places where radio stations developed their talent, sort of the minor league farm system for announcers.  Those days are gone, and you can tell.  The sound today is considerably less polished than it used to be.  There is no place to learn the craft.

There are still some live all night talk shows.  I've mentioned one before, "Red Eye."  It's news-based.  The guys who spend all night talking about UFOs and conspiracy theories don't work for me.

All Night Creature, where have you gone?