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Happy Birthday, Terry Moss

Each year I publish a version of this birthday greeting to one of the most creative, most talented and nicest radio people ever, Terry Moss.

Terrry’s biggest contribution to radio personalities around the world continues to bring smiles to DJs and listeners alike: Cheap Radio Thrills — the best and best-selling radio production library of all time.

As any old American DJ will confirm, for many years radio stations were required to broadcast periodic tests of the Emergency Broadcast System. Here’s what the listener would hear:

For the next 60 seconds, this station will conduct a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. The following is only a test.

That would be followed by this test tone:

Then the announcer would return to say:

This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. The broadcasters of your area in voluntary cooperation with the FCC and federal, state, and local authorities have developed this system to keep you informed in the event of an emergency. If this had been an actual emergency, the Attention Signal you just heard would have been followed by official information, news, or instructions. This station serves the [ ] area. This concludes this test of the Emergency Broadcast System.

Invariably the jock would read that copy in a monotone, there’d be silence, then the test tone, then the jock would return to read the close with the same disinterested inflection.

Terry decided to change all that — with these two cuts from Cheap Radio Thrills. Here’s the introduction:

After the intro, the test tone would be broadcast. Then this cut would be played, complete with a donut for the announcer to read the boilerplate copy that begins, “The broadcasters of your area…”

Question: As a listener, which test would you be more likely to pay attention to? The one delivered in the bored monotone, or the musical version?

Clearly far more people would actually listen to the musical rendition — which really upset the FCC. People actually paying attention to the E.B.S. tests??

So in its infinite wisdom, the FCC decreed that the Emergency Broadcast System test could not be sung.

Bored monotone that no one listens to = Good.

Entertaining version that many people listen to = Bad.

Happy birthday, Terry. I was a few days late this year, but I know you’ll forgive my tardiness.

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  • Scott Larson October 31, 2012, 7:27 am

    Brilliant.. yet another reason the FCC needs to be brought into the 21st Century, maybe they could have board members that actually have worked in radio, programmed radio, sold radio, produced radio, been on the radio, devoted their lives to radio. That would take an act of Congress, and we all know how that works out don’t we.. my apologies for the cynical response

  • Tim Keenan October 31, 2012, 7:52 am

    It was a privilege for me as a young radio newbie to work with this production genius on the radio side and in the independent world. Our studio, Creative Media Recording, was used to build some of the Cheap Radio tracks and I got help with mastering & editing back in the days.

    I’m so glad Terry’s material lives on in his memory. Terry was one of those bright flames that burned out way too soon!

    Tim Keenan, CMR

  • Wesley Miller October 31, 2012, 10:36 am

    Terry was the greatest guy, worked with him in Vegas. Learned how you can have fun and do a professional job at the same time. You are missed Terry, proud to have known you!

  • Ted Morro October 31, 2012, 11:36 am

    Worked with Terry at Transtar Hollywood,..affable, sharp and funny,..so talented.


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