The Election

The next day, Cryspian turned in the cigar box containing the proceeds from the Acid Test to Mark Newberger, who didn't seem to be in a very happy mood. After the money was counted, they found that 96 dollars had been raised, which was about enough to cover one overdue phone bill. That was a help, but that did little to put a dent in the $1500 needed to pay the electric bill or the $2000 needed for equipment payments. So once again, the station's a little short on cash and necessity once again becomes the mother of invention, which brings us to...

The current fantasy...

...the fantasy of the Steering Committee....

I'm not sure who thought up the fantasy of the Steering Committee but it certainly wasn't any of the Pranksters, who were all into art rather than politics. Things had gone to hell around the station as far as staff goes, so a volunteer meeting was called to figure out what to do about it. For one thing, the program director had quit over the hassles of the State Fair Remote. Mark was also leaving the station, possibly another victim of the State Fair Remote. That meant that the Steering Committee would have to take over the book keeping of the station, which was what Mark had done. Plus, there generally was a leadership vacuum at the station and important stuff that needed to be done around the station wasn't getting done. Colin cut a cart announcing the meeting and put it in the rack of carts to be aired, and other Pranksters made up signs about the meeting and put them up where all the volunteers would see them.

Well, the day of the meeting came and about 75 of the volunteers show up, which was pretty good. All the Pranksters were there except Steve. Everyone hassled the problem out and that's when the idea of electing the Steering Committee came up. They took nominations and about 15 people were nominated, including all the Pranksters except Steve, probably because he wasn't at the meeting. They decided not to have the actual election until later, to give everyone a chance to think about who the best candidates would be. They told everyone who was nominated to write up a blurb about themselves and turn it in to Larry, who was going to type them all up and print them out for everybody.

They had the election about a week later, and it was a shoe-in for Colin and all the other Pranksters who were nominated. So now we've got a Steering Committee. They had their first meeting a day later and Mark told them what all doing the books involved. That job was given to Cryspian, since he had the most experience. Clarke became the Program Director.

During the next two months, the Steering Committee got a lot done. They knocked out a wall that was in the way in the production archive area, to make it a better work area. That made room to roll all the studio recorders out of the production room so the carpet could be vacuumed and to give Colin room to work on the wooden equipment rack. They also installed a fluorescent fixture in the archive area, so you could see what you were doing at night. Winter was upon them and Colin had gotten tired of trying to read tape boxes in the dark. They also put a push-button lock on the production room door to keep unauthorized people out. Another thing they did was have an open house at the station to try to get more people involved with it. For a while, the Steering Committee met religiously at least once a week, but the Pranksters had more trouble than anyone could have dreamed possible that winter, and that may be what caused them to burn out. This was especially true of Colin and Clark, who wound up with much more than their share of the station's problems.

It was an unusually cold winter that year and the furnace was giving Colin fits. It would break down in the middle of the night, which would cause the equipment in the engineering room to get too cold. When that happened, it would cause the studio-transmitter link to drift off frequency, knocking the transmitter off the air. Then, whoever was on the air when it happened would call Colin up at all hours of the night and tell him that the transmitter was on the fritz again.

The same problem was also giving Clarke all sorts of hassles of a different kind. First, there's the problem with the turntables. He's monitoring someone's show and hears every single record miscue, and he knows that the person on the air knows what they're doing, so he goes down to the station to see what's wrong. He notices a sign next to the control room door that says Ice Station Zebra, which is just about right. He walks in there and starts fooling around with one of the turntables, and when he sees how long it's taking it to come up to speed, he calls Colin up and asks, "What's the freaking deal with the turntables?" Colin says, "Its the oil in them, man. When it gets cold, the motors can't generate enough torque to start properly. Like the only thing you can do is warm them up, man."

But of course, like warm them up, Clarke thinks. So he goes to another part of the station and gets an electric heater. He takes it to the control room and sets it between two of the turntables, plugs it in and gets it going, and it runs for about five minutes...then the freaking breaker kicks and all the equipment goes dead. So he goes into the engineering room to find the breaker panel, only trouble is there's no such animal in the engineering room. Then he calls Colin back up and asks, "Where's the goddamn breaker panel for the control room?"

"Like it's in the basement, man," he tells him, "but I don't think you should try running any more heaters in there because the wiring simply cannot handle the load."

Clarke goes down to the basement, wondering if Colin has ESP or something. He finds the breaker and resets it, and KCHU starts back up.

Then there was the other thing that was giving Clarke fits...namely the volunteers. Within a week, Clarke had to chew one volunteer out for doing a Dooby Brothers show, and another volunteer for playing Queen and another volunteer for playing Kizz and another for playing Heart. These were all records that other stations were playing and KCHU's philosophy was not to duplicate what other stations play. Not only that, but the cold weather was causing a record number of no-shows, especially at night. Before any of this could be resolved, the next bummer happened.

The station was out of blank recording tape and Colin had become desperate. The Acid Test had suffered from it and now the problem was threatening the whole operation of the station. Recording tape is probably the most important supply that a radio station consumes, second only to electricity. It is also very expensive and this was the problem the station had to contend with. Colin couldn't wait for the station to debate the problem and come up with a solution. Audio production had come to a stand still and he was backlogged to the extent that shows had to be canceled because he couldn't produce them without any tape. So he went into the production control room and cut a cart, using his own tape, that was a desperate plea for donations of tape and took it to the control room put it in the cart rack to be aired...

Someone donated a shoe box full of 10 minute carts, which was a help, but that didn't solve the problem of not having any reel-to-reel tape. This not only shut down production, but threatened the Archives as well, because there was no tape to preserve historical shows. There was also no tape for loggers, which the station needed for talk shows for legal protection.

Colin finally called an emergency Steering Committee meeting to resolve the situation. "This problem can't wait a single week longer. The station just simply cannot legally operate without any recording tape, nor can it broadcast anything other than DJ. shows or old tapes." The horror of the situation sets in...then someone comes up with an idea.

"Wait a minute, what about that government surplus outfit that only sells to non-profit orgs. We got a box of tape from them before," said Cryspian.

Colin says, "Hay man, I don't think you dig the magnitude of the problem. A single box won't do. We need the stuff in bulk."

As it turned out, the surplus outfit had the tape in bulk and it only cost 37 cents a reel, and these were 10 inch reels. Normally they would have cost 30 dollars a reel. So the station ordered 1500 reels and when the big shipment arrived, Colin and the other Pranksters were ecstatic. Now the station was no longer doomed, plus the Archives could be maintained and production could resume, and everything would be beautiful again. Everyone was checking out the stash of recording tape. Cryspian pulled one of the reels out of the box and said "Hay, man, this one's like cracked."

"Well you still can't beat 37 cents a reel," said Clarke.

The tape seemed to be of two types, army issue and navy issue. The army issue reels were army green color and these were rare. The navy issue reels were navy gray and although the bulk of the tape was of this type, the term army issue caught on for the whole lot when one of the Pranksters pulled out the ugly duckling reel and exclaimed, "Hay man, like this one must be an army issue." Soon, the whole shipment was known as the army issue tapes, and everyone in the whole station soon learned what Colin wanted when he requested a fresh real of army issue tape.

Old man winter was hitting hard and an ice storm was about to hit. Someone suggested stashing the boxes of army issue tape downstairs in the back but Colin said, no. He wanted them locked up in Clarke's old office, except for a few boxes for people to use in the production room. No one knew why he insisted on that, but when the Pranksters got the furnace up and running the next day, some pipes in the back broke, and water was gushing everywhere. The tapes would have become very soggy indeed if they had been stored there...

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Copyright ©, 1995
Colin Pringle
The Election.htm