Sex, Drugs, and Rock n Roll Radio: The Audition

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Hey there. This is an excerpt from my upcoming book. It's unedited, and un-proofread, so keep that in mind! Hope you like it.

 

When a new station is launched, or a station flips formats (which is far more common than a launch from a previously static frequency), the station does what is called “stunting.” The most common stunts are “10,000 in a row before commercials” or playing clips of songs from different formats and having the listeners email or call in with their suggestions on what the new station should be (which of course is all bullshit, as the station’s final format had already been decided for months). The whole point of this is of course to snare as many fans, grab as much hype, and provide as much entertainment as possible before subjecting the listeners to the onslaught of commercials that is destined to come.

We rolled two stunts back-to-back. While the final contracts were being signed for the transfer of the station to Sunshine, the engineers thought it would be funny to play four Slim Whitman songs on a loop. Slim, if you are unacquainted, was known as the yodeling cowboy, and it had probably been decades since any station had played his songs with any kind of frequency. Those engineers could be some funny motherfuckers. Soon, though, the yodeling ended and Lars' double-kick drums began. And so, as the champagne (Dixie cups filled with water) was consumed by the managers to christen the new station as the Metallica roared on through the monitors and radio speakers everywhere in our sweltering Florida town, I prepared myself to enter the kingdom of rock n’ roll.

Soon after the barrage of Metallica, my phone rang. It was Kylee. “Can you do an airshift tomorrow afternoon?”

“Yes.”

“Just have fun with it. Roll some tape and leave it for me on my desk.”

I was excited and I thought I needed a new name. Tim Savage did nights on Mix and talked to soccer moms. I was going to be a rocker, someone fucking cool. I couldn’t have people listening and hearing my name and saying, “Hey, isn’t that the guy that talks between Backstreet Boys songs on that soccer mom station? What a fucking douche.” I never considered that A: nobody gave a shit, and B: almost nobody listening to adult contemporary would be flipping over to Pantera and asking themselves that question. So I picked a new name.

“It’s Rock100, the only station that rocks and my name is Mickey Blue Eyes.”

That is the name that I used during my tryout on Rock100 because I thought it sounded cool. I can't recall why I even thought “Mickey Blue Eyes” made any sense for me and I’m surprised Kylee didn’t drive in from her apartment hunting and break a Miller High Life bottle on my face. But all I could think was that I now had this total freedom that I never had before. Sure, there were certain words and things I couldn’t mention, but I couldn’t even say “damn” or “bitch” or “ass” on Mix without getting into trouble with Jerry. Man, I thought, I can do anything I want. I can be a rebel and be cool and I am rock and roll. I turned on the microphone, and with a new sense of freedom and power inside my soul and a glint of mischief in my eye, I opened my mouth and…choked. Lessons come quick and hard on live radio and I should have spent less time wondering what name to use and more time, oh I don’t know, figuring out what the fuck I was even going to say.

“That was Limp Bizkit and Nookie on Rock100. I’m Mickey Blue Eyes, and, uh…I’m just, uh, trying out on the station, and…yeah.” Shit. With the mic still hot, my mouth dried out and my old familiar friend “heart-exploding-mind-erasing-terror” showed up and I froze. Think. Think, goddammit. Do something. Mic still live. Nothing but my breathing coming through the airwaves. I looked around the studio for inspiration, for answers, for help, even for escape. What I found was a bottle of all-natural cleaning fluid called “Simple Green.” I did the only thing my brain could come up with in the face of my sheer terror. I yanked the spray bottle off the counter and started spitting out words.

“I’m such a rebel, I don’t care, man. I’m going to drink some of this cleaning fluid right here, live on the radio.” And, in my panicked state, because I thought what I was saying or doing would only make sense if I actually did it, I took a swig of the Simple Green and choked it down.

“Yeah, baby! Rock and roll!” Guuurrrggghgllglglglg. “Back, uh, back to the music. It’s Tool on Rock100, the only station that rocks!”

I turned off the microphone and dropped my head, staring at the ground in the cool, dark, former broom closet as “Sober” played out the soundtrack to my failure.

“I am the dumbest piece of shit on the planet. What the fuck did I just do,” I said out loud before regressing into my own head. That was it? That's all I could think of doing? I couldn’t mention something about the band, or about the weather, or the time, or what songs were coming up, or the fact that I hoped all the rockers out there liked our new rock station? All I could think of was grabbing a bottle of cleaner and taking a fucking drink of it? That wasn’t funny, it wasn’t cool, there was no point, no reason, no nothing. People wouldn’t even hear it on the radio and think, “there’s a guy that’s grasping for straws,” they probably just cringed and flipped the channel. I'm...done.

I sat in silence for another minute or two and realized that if Kylee had heard my break live, there would be no chance for me. I was just a fool looking for attention, not someone trying to make the radio station sound better or even make myself sound better. I took some deep breaths and settled myself before spiraling any further into anxiety or an OCD attack. I looked up at the tape deck, set to start recording every time the mic was turned on. I flipped my studio speakers from air feed to cassette deck, rewound my tape, and listened back to my break to hear if it was as bad as I believed. It was worse. I rewound again to the end of the previous break.

And I copied over it.

Gathering myself, I took a deep breath, decided to stick to the basics, and carefully planned each talk break in advance. When I finished, I listened to the tape a dozen times. Nothing special, but nothing disastrous. I hoped upon hope that no one important had heard my awful cleaning fluid debacle. I turned in my tape to Kylee and she never mentioned the Simple Green bit and I thanked the God I still kinda sorta believed in for the hassles of apartment hunting in a new town that surely kept her too occupied to listen to me live during my audition.

A week later I got the call. “How'd you like to be our new night guy?”