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Radio Daze

Radio Daze

I was the first announcer to broadcast a live remote from the Thibodaux Fireman’s Fair in 1955. It was held on a former baseball field the Evangeline League Thibodaux Giants played on from 1946 to 1952. This was before the firemen got their own fairground.

I had done a few K.T.I.B. remotes, (programs broadcast away from the station), with “The Leroy Martin Show”, (1953-1983), sometimes solo, sometimes with Rod Rodrigue, Roy Vicknair or Jim Mitchie.

Radio was still a dominating force when I stumbled into it in 1947, first live with my band in Houma, Thibodaux and New Orleans, and then my D.J. show.

It remained so until the mid 1950’s when television began to diminish it and delegated A.M. to talk radio and later F.M. to becoming an on the air juke box.

The future IPhones and MP3 would change the music business forever.

The early remotes were primitive, demanded much work and here’s what was necessary to successfully transmit them.

The day or so before the station ordered an A.T. & T. wire dropped at the remote site and marked with a colored ribbon so that not so bright announcers (not yet called DJ’s) like me could find it. I arrived hauling a 12-inch by 12-inch by 8-inch portable (barely) transmitter consisting of tubes, transformers, regulators, generators, carburetors and fibrillators, (strike the last two), everything that has today been made almost weightless and obsolete by the inventions of the transistor and microchip.

After searching the grass beneath the telephone pole for 15 minutes finding the ribbon, the wire was connected to the “tig-a-ma-jig” plugged into a “do-jigger” and hooked unto a “ting-a-ma-bob” that transmitted the program to the station that transmitted it to the tower (in Schriever) that transmitted it to the world. Well, a very small portion of it anyway. (My knowledge of the names of electronic parts is phenomenal!)

There were no portable turntables so I went to the station early and picked the records I wanted played on my cue. I always left a stack of local artists’ records. That included L.J. Foret, Gene Rodrigue, Vin Bruce, Jimmy Cole, Dupe the Drifter, the Dufrene Brothers, and about a dozen others, and of course, Lee Martin. It would have been embarrassing for them to show up and not have their record.

The person running the turn tables at the station had a very boring job and sometimes fell asleep, visited the restroom or just generally goofed off, a very contagious disease among radio folks, yours truly shamefully included. This led to my on the air cues like, “well, here comes John Doe Boudreaux whose brand new record ‘the Water Lilly Blues’ has just hit the market and I know that Fred is busily cueing it up, Hi John.”

Whispering in my ear, Fred would say: “Stretch it, where the H—l did you put the d—n locals?”

Once such language managed to hit the air. Fortunately this was another time, another place and another disc jockey.

I continued, “I know that by now Fred has carefully picked up the record that was left for him behind the left turntable.”

After delaying about one minute, which in radio is an eternity, the record was played, the artist was happy, I was relieved but Fred was being thoroughly cussed in my mind. I’m sure you get the picture.

The live portion of the show consisted of the Grand Marshall or fair workers dropping by to plug the fair or individual booths. Sometimes I was lucky and the fair queen would drop by for a chat. They were always much prettier than the Grand Marshalls, who were by tradition all males.

Finally Delta Broadcasters, Inc., Fred Block, Ed Jackson and Sam Lawrson became successful enough to buy an all-inclusive radio van, which made remote broadcasting a piece of cake, but not always trouble free, as I will tell you about next week.

Bye Now!

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