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Haunted By A Tractor (And Other Radio Goofs)

Sherri Marengo of Eagle 99 asks, “Have you ever been doing a contest and forgot to give listeners the contest line??? OMG- did it this morning!”

My most memorable blunder occurred during my very first air shift. I’m a city boy, and my first radio gig was in rural Virginia. It was only an hour or so into the shift when a listener called up and said, “You’re not from around here, are you?”

Nope, it wasn’t a question of conflicting regional accents. I had read a live spot for John Deere tractors. Apparently the big clue was when I pronounced it “Dear-ie.”

Okay, guys, what’s YOUR embarrassing screw-up?

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  • Craig Allen, CPCC January 15, 2009, 5:12 am

    From early in my career:

    We were running a Memorial Day contest where listeners could submit a list of their 9 favorite songs. If we pulled your name, we played your songs (even out of format stuff), and put you in a drawing for a barbecue.

    I had gone to a concert the night before (AC/DC), got back late, and had very little sleep before doing the midday shift.

    About 40 minutes into my shift I pulled the name of Chip Beach from Harrison. You can imagine how my foddy, sleep-deprived mind instantly snapped awake a half-second after I heard myself say on the air, “And here’s 9 favorites in a row for Cheap Bitch!” (But I did hit the post.)

    I sat there horrified, my career now seemingly dead after less than 2 years. Then the phone rang. My boss? The FCC? An irate mother with her impressionable young child? Nope. The voice on the other end of the line said, “I resent being called a Cheap Bitch.”

    *GASP!* It was the guy who’s name I just slaughtered with a 100,000 watt signal!! As I tried to stammer out on an apology he said, “Look, I’m an old radio guy. In my 20-plus years on air I made mistakes ten times worse than that. Actually, I thought it was kind of funny.” *Whew!* Saved by a guy who’d been there, done that.

    So the lesson learned? If you’ve got to work Memorial Day after an AC/DC concert, ask for the afternoon shift so you can get more sleep.

    And make sure Chip Beach is listening. 🙂

  • gordon.smith January 15, 2009, 7:43 am

    Fortunately, my memory has blessed me with an inability to recall my many on-air goofs, but I do recall one particular moment during a remote broadcast.

    It was at a downtown festival. The main street had been blocked off and was packed with hundreds of people. Our booth had a PA system in case we needed to talk to the crowd. I was scheduled to interview a store owner into the next spot break…her name was Gaye Peterson.

    The sales person pointed her out on the other side of the street. We got her attention, but because of the noise from the crowd couldn’t tell her that we would be there to interview her in about ten minutes. So, I fired up the PA system.

    “Hi! How are you? Are you Gaye? Great! We’ll be over in a few minutes.”

    It didn’t register why people in the crowd were giving me odd looks until the sales person nudged me.

  • Anonymous January 15, 2009, 10:26 am

    I was doing a Saturday morning shift on a hot ac station here in Halifax and I had a liner coming up to promote our Morning show appearing on a local tv station the following morning. Well one of the guys was bald and the other was a little pudgy……so not wanting to sound like every other liner card reader and decided to improvise the liner a bit and said, “hey tomorrow morning you can check out baldy and pudgy, and I don’t mean Siskel and Ebert, who the heck wants to see those two jokers??? I’m talking about so-and-so and so-and-so from……”. What I didn’t know was Gene Siskel had passed away the night before! The next day the local paper’s entertainment report mentioned what I’d said in his article and said that I was “either ignorant, insensitive or both”. I had only been on-air for a few months, so that was it, I thought I was fired for sure. But my PD just said, “hey at least you got our name in the paper, and what lesson did you learn from this?” DO MORE SHOW PREP!

    Jeff Cogswell – http://www.z103halifax.com

  • John January 15, 2009, 11:49 am

    Worst interview ever:

    I was with a couple of friends on the air one Friday morning filling in for the station morning show while they were attending boot camp. A local comedy club always brought in the feature comedian for the weekend each Friday morning. The PD and the morning show had specifically advised the club NOT to bring in the comedian… but they did anyhow. Their rep guy who brought in the comedian begged and begged for one of us to interview the guy. Finally, in a moment of stupidity I agreed.

    Problem, this guy was totally unknown to me. And he was one of those “hip-hop” comedians who followed in the wake of Chris Rock. He spoke only hip-hop and since I am the least hip non urban guy on the planet, I didn’t get any of the jokes he was saying.

    To make it more painful, I had decided to interview this guy in the news booth live on the air. The jock who was supposed to be running the board decided to shut off the monitors and chat with some friends for a while – completely ignoring me and the comedian. After five minutes of getting nowhere with the comedian and realizing that the jock was never going to bother to check on me, I just shut off the microphones and left the news booth and went into the studio and told the jock to put something on the air.

    I left the building for a while to blow off steam.

    Bottom line: never do an interview without prep!

  • Anonymous January 15, 2009, 1:30 pm

    Small station, suburban Chicago, 1988.

    I usually prepared some reports for the Saturday AM news, often dropping it all down to reel-to-reel, then dubbing to cart.

    Well, I flubbed the first read to the reel. Said “Oh, sh*t, again, in three, two, one.”

    When I dubbed it, I backed it up to the FIRST countdown .. and left the room after starting the cart on record and the reel to reel on play.

    And didn’t listen to it before I threw it in the Saturday AM bin.

    It aired…fortunately, at 4:45 AM on low power. It never went any farther than me and the board op at the time, thank goodness.

    Moral: never swear near a mic.

  • John January 15, 2009, 3:06 pm

    On the morning show, we read a story about a local court case involving the Amish and using their little orange triangles on their buggys..

    well.. we made a few jokes.. nothing really too bad or disrespectful.. but right when my co-host said.. “man you are gonna offend them if you aren’t careful and I said.. “Psh! offend them? It’s not like they are gathered around the radio listening.”

    They were.

    A very nice gentleman “Abraham” being driven to his court case by a friend was listening on the car radio at the time and called to tell us he was in fact listening.

    -moral : you just… never know.

  • Captain Scarlet January 17, 2009, 2:28 am

    At my first gig, a local AM daytimer AC that I hold near & dear in my broadcast memories, we did a "rip & read" sports brief before a bottom of the hour weather update from the newsguy (who was opposite me in the news booth, despite the carted "teletype" sfx). The story said, "Houston's Doug DiCinces has baseball's hot bat right now…," but I misspoke and only got as far as "Houston's Doug DiCinces has hot balls–" to which the newsperson looked up and mouthed "Oh, Really?" I could not continue I was laughing so hard. Two songs later with tears still in mky eyes, I was still trying to compose myself.

  • Anonymous January 18, 2009, 6:36 am

    Sunday 6:15AM – The day after Valentine’s. Big throbbing headache after an exhausting night out … I’m on my first commercial gap and hear a really cheesy promo. The fermented voice acting went, “Oh thank you!”

    I blurt out, “Oh crap!”

    Then my eyes get really big. I hear myself on my headphones.

    My mic was on.

  • Rob Lewis January 18, 2009, 9:37 am

    I’ve been very fortunate and my flubs have been boring and un-entertaining. My dad, however, had a penchant for “Spoonerisms”.

    Once, when talking about about the coming near record warmth said, “We’re expecting a rear nekkid high”.

    But this is my favorite. Giving a news story about a man who had passed away, he informed everyone that he had suffered a “hatal fart attack”. Sounds painful!