Open secret: not all live radio is live.
In order to get more work out of less people (and, sometimes, just because we can), radio uses a practice called voicetracking. We pre-record the “live” between-songs talkover and drop the tracks into the studio computer… and the computer does the rest.
Or, at least, it’s supposed to.
Today, it didn’t. And therein, as a certain Mr. Shakespeare wrote, lies the rub.
I’m on-air Sundays from 12-5… I usually do 12-2:30 live, and 2:30-5 voicetracked. That’s what I did today, finishing up voicetracking around 2:45. I then switched from the on-air Oldies studio to an off-air studio to do a production session. I was chugging along, not really thinking about Oldies at that point (my show was in the computer, I had nothing to worry about)… so I didn’t really notice when our chief engineer came in around 4:30, looking rather worried. He didn’t notice me in the off-air studio at first, either. When he did notice, he asked me how long I’d been in there. I told him… and then he said something that no radio person wants to hear.
“Did you know you’ve been off the air for 15 minutes?”
Actually, it turned out that it was 45 minutes.
When the studio computer’s Windows screensaver kicked in (60 minutes after I finished tracking), something happened that had never happened in 3 1/2 years at Oldies. The program that manages the audio simply… stopped. So there was no audio. At all. From about 3:45 until the CE restarted the program at 4:30.
So not only did we go off the air for 45 minutes… but I had spent all that time doing voicetracks that never aired! 🙂
There’s no snappy ending here. The computer is running again, the screensaver was taken out and shot :), and I have a few more grey hairs.
Mommas, don’t let your babies grow up to do radio. 🙂