The year was 1977. I was 22, just out of college, and working minimum wage for a top-forty radio station in Charlottesville, Virginia – WCHV.
I completed a grueling course to earn my Third Class Radio Operator’s license, qualifying me to be on the airwaves – and make photocopies for the other disc jockeys. Perhaps because I broke the copy machine and spilled coffee on the radio control panel, the station manager wouldn’t let me near the microphone – except to read the T & T (time and temperature) on Christmas day when everyone else was at home for the holiday.
My big break came the following Spring. It was 11:30 on a Tuesday night. I was in bed, unable to sleep because I lay there hacking and sniffling. I was sicker than a dog. Then the phone rang. It was the station manager: “Tim, Chris Furlong is under the weather and can’t do his midnight shift. I’ve called literally everybody, and nobody is available. So, what do you say? Want to be on the air?”
“Tonight?” I wheezed. However sick Chris Furlong might have been, I was feeling ten times worse. So naturally I answered: “Abso [cough] lutely, boss! [cough]. THANK [cough] YOU!”
“Sure you’re feeling all right, buddy?”, he asked? “Never felt – ahhhhh-choooo – better. I’ll be right over,” I sneezed.
I arrived at the station at 11:50 for the 12:00 to 6 am shift. At the stroke of midnight, the previous shift’s jock raced out of the studio, like Cinderella fleeing from the Ball. At that moment, it suddenly dawned on me: I was totally alone in the building. The fate of WCHV was upon my shoulders ALONE.