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Radio Daze, II

Radio Daze, II

K.T.I.B. had bought a studio on wheels for remote broadcast which contained an all-inclusive studio with a board, turntables and all equipment necessary to broadcast from anywhere, along with an audience-friendly back window through which we could stare and be stared back at.

I rode it on its third remote but I forget where it was. There! I’m not infallible after all.

It sure was more fun and offered more pride and dignity but it still required an AT&T wire and an announcer to find it where it lay, usually at the base of an AT&T telephone pole tied with a ribbon and hidden in the grass.

When “The Leroy Martin Show” went on the road I often had a co-host, sometimes fellow Cajun announcer Rod Rodrigue, and often Roy Vicknair (1937-2015). Roy, a good friend and fellow announcer, is a major part of this column and I’ll tell his very interesting story next week

FM radio came on the scene sometime in the 1950’s and K.T.I.B. FM was born. It was automated but needed someone to change the pre-recorded tapes periodically. There were two multi-hour tapes, one music and the other commercials. An electronic cue stopped the music tape at pre-set times and ran a commercial, then went back to the music tape. Astounding new techniques now long antiquated.

Before the FCC requires radios to have both AM and FM, listeners were few.

The K.T.I.B. announcer had to handle his own broadcast and man the tape machine, a royal “p-i-t-a” with no more pay, so I enjoyed remotes more.

My salary, which was minimum, was not the reason I stayed in radio so long. Having five hours of radio time every week to plug your dance jobs, Vin Bruce, mine and my friends’ records, and keep my name in public politically made it worthwhile, since I was now a two-label Jin/Swallow recording artist, Cajun records on Swallow and Swamp Pop on Jin.

The remote I remember most was one Saturday afternoon at the annual Thibodaux Firemen’s Fair and my co-host was Roy Vicknair. It was the big public affair of the year in Thibodaux and I had been the first to broadcast it live in 1955. It started to rain early and by fair time it was pouring down. Roy and I had to ignore it and try to convince our listeners to “Come on Down” hiding the fact that the ground was wet and there was almost nobody there.

The show was on and I opened with: “We’re going through a heavy dew, but soon it will be over. Pick up the kids and hurry to the fair. The corn will soon be popping and the hot dogs will be hopping and every one you know will all be there.”

Horrors! I had unleashed my poetic dog!

Roy rolled his eyes and cupped his ears.

I continued: “Water’s pouring, but ignore it, water don’t scare Cajuns. Rising up or pouring down, or with the wind engaging.” (How can I remember such corn?)

By this time Roy had his hand on the doorknob choosing the rain over poetry. To keep him dry, I leashed back my poetic dog and talked prose again, but a song ran through my mind.

“It started to rain and it rained for a long, long time. Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline. They’re trying to wash us away. They’re trying to wash us away.” (Randy Newman’s song “Louisiana”).

It actually wasn’t that bad and soon the rain stopped, the sun came out and myriads slushed through the wet grounds. It was their fair and no rain was going to stop them. The fair was a big success.

“The rain then stopped, the sun came out, and people flooded (no pun intended) in. The vendors vetted, ‘come and get it’. Let the fun begin.” … Down! Poetic dog. Down!

Bye Now!

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