The Current Fantasy...
...The State Fair Remote will bring us hundreds, if not thousands, if not millions of new listeners and paid subscribers...
This time, the current fantasy was not dreamed up by the Pranksters, but rather the more square faction of the station staff. Their idea was to get a booth at the State Fair and use it to promote the station. Everyone liked the idea, and the station even managed to get a grant from ARCO to fund the booth and the printing of 6000 hand-outs about the station. The station would be also doing a remote broadcast from the booth, and reporting what was going on at the fair.
Colin liked the idea of the remote broadcast, because it would free up the control room for repairs, since all the disk jockeys would be at the remote, rather than in the control room. There were some bugs that needed to be worked out of the remote control panel and some bad faders that he needed to change out in the audio console.
So the Pranksters drag all the remote equipment to the State Fair grounds and find out where the booth is to be set up. A man from the phone company is there with a strange box, equalizing the remote line to the station. Pretty soon, he was finished and Colin could hook up the remote console to the remote line. He also had to set up the turntables, the DJ's microphone and a roving shotgun microphone on a 100 foot cord for interviews. They also had a portable tape recorder and another shotgun mike for covering stories at other locations on the fair grounds. After he got everything set up, he called the station to confirm that everything was working.
The next day, the fair opened and there was trouble from the very start, but not with the equipment, which worked flawlessly. From the very beginning, all sorts of problems cropped up that caught everyone at the station off guard, because nobody had ever anticipated them or even dreamed they were possible.
The first thing that went wrong was the 6000 newsprint blurbs on the station got hung up at the printer and didn't get delivered until the day that the Pranksters were setting up the equipment at the fair. Only some of them were for the remote and the rest were supposed to be dropped off at the usual places the Program Guide was distributed, but because they were late, that didn't happen and the Pranksters got all 6000 delivered to the State Fair Remote. Naturally, the State Fair officials were uptight about that because they knew from experience that they would only need about 2000 for the fair. Colin had to call the station and let Mark Newberger hassle with the State Fair officials over that.
The next problem was with a puppet show booth that some friends of the Pranksters had set up. It looked tacky as hell and the State Fair officials were all upset about it and they wanted the Pranksters to get it out of there. It wasn't that the people doing the puppet show didn't dig aesthetics...it's just that they were like starving artists just like the Pranksters, who couldn't afford fancy materials, so they made the thing out of cardboard and decorated it with crayons. So Colin had to call the station again and Mark Newberger had to hassle over that. Needless to say, Mark is getting tired of all this hassle. He had to drop what he was doing and round up as much of the station staff as he can find to have an emergency meeting about what to do about the fantasy of the dread puppet show booth.
Well, protocol won out over art, so the Pranksters end up having to drag the goddamn thing to the dumpster, hoping that their friends feelings won't feel too badly hurt. Besides, as it says at least a hundred times in Tom Wolf's Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test book, art is not eternal and having that tacky thing out of the way, the station can concentrate on the remaining headaches of the State Fair Remote, the first of which was re-scheduling the time allocated for the puppet shows, which was Steve Putnam's headache.
The next nightmare nobody had anticipated was the extra people required to run the remote. People were needed to shuttle DJs and talent from the station to the remote and back, because the Fair had only given the station one pass for one car. Other people were needed at the station to operate the transmitter, take the logs, answer telephones, take pledges and other chores which everyone hated. The booth had to be staffed 16 hours a day, from the time the fair opened, until it closed, and when someone failed to show up for their shift, it was downright serious.
As the fair dragged on, other overlooked problems began to surface. The station staff soon realized that they had made a major demographics blunder in thinking that the State Fair would be a good place to promote the station. Nobody at the station had realized that most of the people who attended the State Fair did not reside in the KCHU listening area, but were from out of town, many even from out of state. This became clear as more and more people were interviewed and most said they had come from small redneck towns to get in on the fun, and most wouldn't listen to the station anyway, because it didn't play country and western. Being a non-commercial station run mostly by Hippies, nobody at the station had thought of such concepts as demographics.
Then there were the spats between the State Fair officials and the Pranksters from the very start, who they thought were making a mockery of their sacred redneck fair. Somehow a booth of Day-glo Hippies who looked like they belonged in the Haight-Ashbury or at Woodstock just didn't look right, in with all the cowboy stuff, plus they thought that all the interviewing was creating a distraction.
I think the thing they objected to the most were the long hair and beards. The only male volunteers at the station who didn't have long hair and beards were those who were over 30. These were a definite minority at the station and most of them held regular jobs and didn't have time to help out with the State Fair Remote. Almost all the other volunteers were unemployed starving artists and these were the ones who usually wound up at the State Fair Remote. Not only did these Pranksters not spend any money at the fair, but they seemed to be giving the product a bad name right over the freaking airwaves, or at least that's what the State Fair officials claimed. They say that this booth of Day-glo Hippies were scaring all the customers away like the focking red tide or something.
...Although some of the time the State Fair Remote sounded great, other times it sounded like amateur hour, especially when people with no experience had to be hastily put on the air to cover for someone who failed to show up for their shift. Usually these were the teeny freaks who were groupies of Colin and the other Pranksters, because they wanted to be Hippies too. They were always getting in Colin's way and pestering him to get them stoned. Their biggest desire, however, was to get to go on the air and play disk jockey.
Well, one day Steve needed someone to help him run the remote, so Colin let him have a couple of the little teeny freaks who were in his way. The Pranksters all had other chores to do that day. Meanwhile, Colin and Larry were working in the engineering room and listening to the remote. Sure enough, the little teeny freaks had a great time playing disk jockey, much to the disgust of Steve Putnam. "This is the number two song on KCH..." A struggle can be heard and Larry says, "Somebody must have gotten out the hook and pulled them off the stage." That cracked Colin up, "Damn little teeny freaks. No matter what I put them on, they manage to screw it up..."
The last bitter day of the remote is like Custer's Last Stand as far as Steve Putnam is concerned. He starts up the remote booth, only to find out that one turntable is down. He doesn't have any help and when he calls the station to send in the goddamn calvary, he finds that they are all involved in another project to help save the station from ruin, namely a benefit for the station that went by the name or Radioactive Island. Colin's out there and so are all the other Pranksters, and nobody knows where the hell Larry is. So Steve has to wing it with no help and only one turntable. He can't even attend the station's benefit because he's holed up at the freaking State Fair Remote...
...After two weeks, the current fantasy of the State Fair Remote came to an end, much to the relief of everyone involved. The last zinger was that the night the fair closed, it rained buckets. When Colin and Steve went to get the equipment the next day, they found that the roof had leaked and everything was sopping wet. After unplugging all the equipment and drying everything off, they finally pack everything up and head back to the station.
Colin and Steve walk into the station looking like they just got back from a Vietnam War Remote or maybe even Woodstock, because the equipment had gotten all muddy and they were all muddy, and to top it all, they had 4000 slightly soggy newsprint hand-outs that were never needed at the remote.
"Someone really miscalculated on the number of these things we would need," said Colin. "I suppose we could use them to wash the windows." Mark Newberger didn't like that idea. "Those blurbs on the station cost a lot of money to print up. We can save them for future events."
"But Mark, they're all soggy. Plus, they were specially written for the fair, and the way things went, I don't think the folks in charge of the fair are too likely to let us have a booth next year. Besides I don't think you can find a single person in the station who wants to do another remote at the fair."
Well, Mark knew Colin was right about that one. The only thing it had accomplished was it had gotten everyone in the station uptight. As far as promoting the station goes, it had been a complete bust. The station didn't get many more pledges then usual, and the remote had been one hell of a burden on the entire station staff and volunteers, except for the little teeny freaks, who got to tell their friends about their big radio show. So the Pranksters stash the 4000 slightly soggy newsprint handouts in a secret passageway in the gallery, where they remained for months and they move on to....
The Fantasy of the Acid Test
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Last revision: 11-18-95