It's National DJ day! It's an annual celebration that, somehow, Hallmark and American Greetings has yet to latch on to. It could be because there are so few of us left. Plenty of radio announcers and on-air personalities we just aren't really called Disc Jockeys any more. Truth of the matter is we don't handle "discs" , haven't for years. Every thing is digital and played back through the computer. I'm sure there are a handful of stations and event DJ's out there that work with vinyl, LP's, 45's, platters, or stacks of wax. But that studio shown above is from nearly 40 years ago when we played albums and singles on turntables. Hey kids look over my left shoulder, that's a telephone with a rotary dial and multiple push buttons to switch lines. We would regularly talk to listeners and take requests. Those headphones aren't wireless, there's a cord to connect them to the control board. Earbuds had not even been dreamed of.
Those days of being a disc jockey were fun. At the time we could choose some cuts off of albums as well as the top hits on 45's (7 inch singles) We had a whole hallway full of albums and singles. These albums and singles were songs pressed into basically plastic which would wear out. The DJ's would place the tonearm from the turntable over the start of the record and set the needle down there. Then we would rotate the turntable back and forth to find the start of the song, thus cue-ing it up. That's where it would wear out. They would get what we called cue burn, a loud scratchy noise at the start of the song. Plus there was the chance for skips to develop on those discs, too (scratch scratch)...too (scratch scratch)...too (scratch scratch)...too. Once a cleaning lady dropped something on a record that was playing on the air. I'll admit it, there were times when we DJ's weren't paying close attention to what we were doing and the record would run out. (more scratchy noise). Yes the legend is true. We would put on a longer song in order to have enough time to run to the rest room. I have no recollection what country song was long enough for that.
Back then we had a whole team of DJ's and everyone broadcast live day after day. In my time with WNCO, which began in 1980, there were dozens and dozens of DJ's to come and go. One of my favorite WNCO announcers (wink wink) came from the Ohio School of Broadcast Technique. That was Kelly Sheehan. She joined us in 1986 and spent the better part of the next 34 years with us. The longest running female WNCO ever had! She always went by her maiden name on the air but behind the scenes became Mrs. Appleby in 1997. (my wife) Kelly was considered the "Queen of the Oldies" since she hosted an all-request oldies show once a week for years.
We DJ's also had the responsibility of playing commercials on carts (cartridges). That's what you see stacked next to the headphones. Just below the microphone were three machines to play those carts. To the right are the turntables and above those is...not a television...a security monitor to let us know who was at the door. There was a time when we would actually play records from the county fairs, either in a portable booth or inside one of our many "Rolling Radio " vans. Back then DJ's talked, played records, read commercials, provided our own security on those evening and overnight shifts, and at times building maintenance when rain would soak through ceiling tiles or flood the lowest level of the building. There's no way to completely recap all that went into being a DJ and in some cases still does. Suffice it to say it's a career I started dreaming of when I was in middle school and still enjoy today. A big thank you to all of you who, over the years, listened to WNCO and the ones who continue to tune in everyday!