The Softest Whimper

Published 13 years, 3 weeks ago

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.


  1. Oh mate…

    That is actually tragic. Must have been a real downer. :(

  2. If it’s any consolation, I’m giving my iPod a rest and I’m listening to your show right now. I’ve always had a soft spot for Glenn Miller.

  3. Maybe it’s a sign. Like you should unretire or something a year from now, broadcast a few more seasons, and retire again whilst still in your prime. Or maybe it means that you should try out for a minor league baseball team now, and then unretire from broadcasting after a lousy stint in the minors. Either way, I think the gods were trying to reach you…

  4. Is “broadcast” still the right term for it, when you’re reaching people only within a few hundred feet of the transmitter? It might have been more effective to go up to the roof with a megaphone ;)

    (And my apologies if this post seems too frivolous.)

  5. You are loved.

  6. ok, this is normal. I still have the url in my clipboard for Eric’s radio site that I came across in one of his interviews… I was thinking how cool it would be to hear great music hosted by someone famous…. sigh. It’s ok, I always get in the longest line in the supermarket too.

  7. Oh, how sad, Eric. Of all the nights for the transmitter to blow a fuse! If only Tracey had been in town Tuesday night, we might have been up and running on Wednesday morning.

    I downloaded your Sept 7th show, thinking that was your last show, but heard you had a sub. :(

    You carried on a great legacy started by my trainee, Evan. I shed a tear for the loss of a fun show … and for the sad way your run ended.

    On behalf of the station, I thank you for your years of involvement at WRUW. My best wishes to you.

    Sometime this Fall you’ll have to visit the new studio!

    David Caban
    WRUW Technical Director
    Host of “Sunday Matinee”

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