This morning, I broadcast what might be the last radio show I ever host.
Almost nobody heard it, though, because yesterday evening the station’s 15,000 watt transmitter had a seizure and stopped sending out a signal– you know, transmitting. So the station went off the air until 8am this morning, which happened to be the beginning of my show, the last in a nine-year run.
When we came back on the air, it was at 5 watts, which was all the transmitter was prepared to handle. At that level, we were reaching an area of maybe ten square blocks. At that level, the FCC technically has no province; only stations of 10 watts and above are regulated. In theory, I could have played anything I wanted with no threat of legal reprecussions. On the other hand, we were still webcasting, so I stuck to my format.
But instead of assembling a list of all my favorite tunes, I just put on two hours of Glenn Miller. This wasn’t so much a case of “what’s the point?” as it was the fact that I couldn’t get into the station until ten minutes before my show. Usually I’m there close to an hour beforehand to prepare. And granted, I could have played an hour of Glenn Miller and an hour of favorites—but in the end, I didn’t have a good answer when I asked myself “what’s the point?”.
At the end of the show, as I’d planned, I delivered a short farewell to my audience, none of whom could actually hear me unless they happened to be within a few hundred feet of the transmitter. I knew all my regular listeners, the ones to whom I’d hoped to say farewell, were beyond that range.
As I said “…and in the meantime, I’m out of here” for the last time and clicked off the microphone, the phone rang in the studio. My God, had someone actually heard me and phoned in to say goodbye?
It was a fax machine.