The Reggae Incident

Old man winter was still giving the Pranksters fits. The people from Jamaica who did the reggae show were not used to Dallas winters at all. What they were used to was lying on a nice warm beach, stoned out of their minds from some potent weed. When the weather got nasty, they developed a nasty habit of not showing up for their air shift, which meant that someone else at the station would have to drop what they were doing and be rushed onto the air totally unprepared. The first time, well... Clarke was still at the station, so he goes on the air and ab libs... But the next time...

Colin and Cryspian are working in the production room the day before the next reggae show when the Doors of Perception opened up and the bright idea surfaces in the Group Mind to send Clarke a prank call to his phone recorder. Clarke's answering machine! Colin and Cryspian wander why Clarke is so square that he would need a phone recorder and they figure out a stunt to get him back into the mix. The last thing they wanted was for him to turn into a goddamn yuppie. First, they go into the control room and gather all the reggae albums they can find and then head back to production.

Colin and Cryspian are really in the groove now, each one complimenting what the other was thinking, and the tape machines were reeling it all in on army issue tape. They picked out the best reggae song and the best sound effects for their prank, got it all down on tape, edit it and then...

Colin inserts patch cords that tied the output of the production room mixing console into a phone line, dialed Clarke's number and when the phone recorder answered, he rolled the tape. If Clarke had listened to his messages that night, everything would be groovy and the prank would have been just that, a prank...but...

The next day, Clarke had put in a hard, long day at the station, but by the time Colin and Cryspian arrived, he had split. Colin was worried because Clarke had failed to respond to the message. What followed next was a scenario unlike any before. In fact, it was downright spooky... Once again, Colin and Cryspian are working in the production room when they are informed that the reggae people have again failed to show up for their shift and could they take over?

Clarke remembers that he hasn't listened to his phone messages in a while, so he plays them back. The first one that comes up is...

"Clarke, this is Colin. The reggae people didn't show up for their shift again, so could you come down to the station and help us shake our heads to the music." In the background, Cryspian could be heard asking Colin where the reggae albums were stashed and reggae music (Peter Tosh: "Legalize It") was also in the background. It was all too perfect...

So Clarke turns on the radio, hoping that this was some kind of prank, a Prankster put-on. But when he hears Colin explaining over the air that the reggae people hadn't shown again and when he hears Cryspian asking what the color code was for the reggae albums, and the same song, the very same song is playing that he had just heard on the phone recorder, he knows that this is no joke and hightails it back to the station as fast as he can...

Clarke walks into the control room and finds that indeed, the reggae people had failed to show up for their shift, and Cryspian and Colin really were shaking their heads to the music...He calls up those goddamn reggae people to find out why the hell they didn't come in, and all they can tell him is, "Oh man, the nights, they are too cold." Clarke can't even freaking believe it, goddamn slackers. He tells the other Pranksters and they grok it and they definitely have to write that one down. Then Clarke says, "Freaking volunteers, I never promised any of them a rose garden, but now they can't come in and do their show because the nights, they are too cold!" Colin and Cryspian look at each other and go, "yeah, yeah, right, right, right," and they definitely have to write that one down.

The cosmic truth about the prank doesn't come out until the next night at a party at Clarke's pad. Clarke was pissed at the no-shows. Not only had the reggae people not shown up for their shift that night, but three other people bugged out of their shifts at the very last minute as well, so Clarke, Colin and Cryspian ended up spending the whole night on the air at the station and they took turns crashing in the production studio.

The Pranksters all get bombed and the subject of the no-shows comes up. "The next time someone doesn't show up for their shift, I think we should shut the whole station down to let them know how serious this is," Clarke said.

"Hay man, we can't do that," says Colin. "Every time I had to shut the transmitter down during my show to make some emergency repair, I lose my whole audience for the night and so does Steve Stokes. One time it was down for less than 10 minutes and I didn't get a single phone call the rest of the night... But I think I know what we can do...Remember that prank call we left you on your phone recorder about the reggae people not showing up for their shift?"

"What do you mean, prank call? They really didn't show up."

"Well we didn't know that was going to happen when we made the tape and sent it to your phone recorder. When the reggae people actually didn't show, it was Cryspian and me who ended up getting pranked."

"That was a tape? I could have sworn you were in the control room, son of a bitches."

"Actually we were in the production room. But like enough of all that, man... What we could do is like work up a script to go along with the tape and then tomorrow before the volunteer meeting, we could like sneak into the production room, voice the script, edit the whole thing and then cut a cart... You know, like do a little street theater, or should that be production studio theater?"

"Well what kind of ideas do you have for a script?" Cryspian wants to know.

"OK," says Colin, "like dig this scene. The station's in ruins. We can't keep the furnace stoked, we can't keep the transmitter on the air, we can't get the turntables to come up to speed, we can't score any recording tape, we can't keep people from saying fuck and shit over the airwaves and we can't even get the goddamn tape delay to work, but never mind all those problems, we've been dealing with all of those hassles for the last two months...but the one thing we can't handle, the one thing that finally manages to completely finish off the station, is we can't get any of the slackers to come in and do their air shifts because the nights, they are too cold!"

"Like wow, beautiful," shouts Cryspian...and that became the Pranksters ultimate inside joke...their ultimate prank.

The other Pranksters loved it, and the Great Script moved forward in the Group Mind, and they wrote the script that night. Then, the next day, they go into the production room, voice the script, edit the tape, cut a cart, label it Play whenever someone fails to show up for their shift and put it in the control room rack with all the other carts to be aired. Here's the RealAudio version.

One mistake had happened in the production. Colin had forgotten to turn the tape playback down when voicing part of the script, causing an echo effect. He didn't like it but the other Pranksters thought it added to the whole effect, so he left it in.

What happened next is somewhat unclear. Some say the Pranksters played the cart at the business meeting and then had a serious discussion about the problem of no-shows. Other's insist that the cart was first heard over the air and still others insist that only part of the tape (on cassette, the part sent to Clarke's answering machine) was played at the business meeting. At any rate, it wasn't long before the cart reached the multitudes in radioland, and many out there wondered what in christ's name is going on at that silly radio station...

The fallout from the cart began to mount to the point where Colin and Cryspian wished they had never come up with the idea of making it, and Cryspian finally pulled it, bulk erased it and put it in the box of blank carts, although Colin retained the original copy in the Archives. The script of the tape went as follows:

Cryspian: "Ladies and Gentlemen, the KCHU Program Director, Mr. Clark Blacker:"

Clarke: My fellow KCHU listeners, what I have to say does not come easily, but I cannot shirk my responsibility. Nor can I hide from you the gravity of the crisis the station is now facing. It is with a heavy heart that I make the following announcement. When I got home, sick and tired of KCHU, I found the following message waiting for me on my phone recorder..."

Colin: (Peter Tosh song in the background: "Legalize it, don't criticize it...") "Hello Clarke, this is Colin. The reggae people didn't show up for their shift again, so could you come down to the station and help us shake our heads to the music?

Cryspian (in background): "Colin, I don't seem to be able to find the reggae music. Do you know where it is?

Colin: Try the middle of the stand-up rack. I believe the color code is silver-pink-black.

Cryspian: Oh yeah, I found it... Here put this one on.

Strange record: "Here is the fifth, the psychology of being powerless...

Colin: That's silver-pink-brown!

Cryspian: Oh, sorry.

Strange record: Americans we have seen, believe that the great background conditions of modern life are beyond our power to influence. The abuse of technology is...

Clarke: The seriousness of this reggae music incident has made it imperative that I make this statement. The KCHU problem cannot be minimized. Heavy with heart, long in face do I say these precious few words for the benefit of all confused listeners. Listeners?

The head shakers are upset about the late hours and the chill factor. I never promised anyone a rose garden. I cannot overemphasize the importance of the office of Program Director that I was elected to. Many people at the station obviously have no idea of what the Program Director has to do each day just to keep the station on the air. This minor little inconvenience of the reggae people not showing up for their shift caused me to have to drop what I was doing and run back to the station when I was not feeling well. It caused serious damage to the station. We lost two promising members of the Steering Committee due to a fatal accident in the control room.

Volunteers keep coming to me complaining about their personal problems. I'm the Program Director, do I look like Ann Landers? If you think I'm going hang around the station all day just so everyone can unload their lousy crap on me, I've had all I can take and I'm leaving. CREG TAKE IT!

...Creg was co-host on Clarke's show, "George." For some reason, Clarke wasn't able to host his show that night, so he gave Creg a bunch of tapes to air. Imagine the surprise he had when he played the mysterious cart that Clarke had told him to start the show with. The audience was also in for a shock. This is the first time they had heard Clarke in such a rage that he stomped out of his own show. Creg turns on his microphone and says, "I'm not sure what Clarke is so upset about because I just got here. He doesn't sound too ecstatic about the station right now..."

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Copyright ©, 1995
Colin Pringle
2nd draft The Reggae Incident {PAGE|61}