Things were going well at WCFR. The new owners wanted to soften the stations’ sound somewhat and since this was my first job as a P.D. I didn’t put up a lot of fuss. The change was incremental and slight. Basically we did a lot of what we in business call “dayparting” songs, which meant that some songs did or did not get played in certain “dayparts.” We might not play “Dream on” by Aerosmith during the morning hours, for example, deeming this too raucous a sound for morning commuters.
We also got a bona-fide jingle package, the first one I had the chance to order. Jingles are of course those singing ID’s that go between songs or out of commercials into songs. I got to audition hundreds of “packages” but of course the eventual choice had to be made from a company called “Tanner”, formerly “Pepper-Tanner.”
The Tanner media production company would produce jingles for you in exchange for commercials on the station. This is known in the business as “Trade” As a matter of fact they would trade anything, including cash. The catch was that they wanted 2 dollars’ worth of commercials for every dollar you got from them, known as 2 for 1. They then resold the time to national advertisers. It meant we played a lot of those spots for the jingles.
I couldn’t have cared less. I had real, cool sounding jingles, in a variety of tempos and lyrics.
Jingle production works like this. You listen to the demo, in this case the station used was WCOD in Hyannis (Cape Cod) Massachusetts:
You picked out the cuts you wanted. Clearly some of the cuts were too raucous for our new, easier sound so I think we ended up with about 15 total. Then you had to rewrite the lyrics. It was my first attempt at this and they came out pretty good. We also changed to “Friendly and Free” and incorporated the we are your friends concept into the station speak. I no longer have any way to ley you hear the WCFR jingles but you can get the idea from the WCOD demo.
Tanner had the master tracks down in Memphis and brought in the same group to re-sing the cuts using WCFR instead of WCOD. Later in my career I would fly into the jingle sessions or listen to them as they were done over a phone patch. I found you got a lot better quality and sometimes a little extra here or there when you were in the studio when the job was done.
I was loving radio now, but it was not conducive to a lot of physical activity. The heaviest thing I had to lift was a box of records (remember those? Black shiny things you played on a turntable?) and I became larger as the years went on. You don’t burn a lot of calories sitting down and yakking into a microphone.
But I was largely unconcerned. I was more worried about my budding broadcast career and my wife and new son. To be honest I was more interested in work than anything else. I loved being on the air almost more than I loved to eat.
I have no idea how much I weighed when a secretary at WCFR called it to my attention. She was a good hearted soul who spoke to me about it in a very nice way. Her concern was about the fact that I had a family to take care of and I was putting them in jeopardy by not addressing my overly ample waistline.
She had a doctor who could help.
At this point if this was an audio presentation you would hear ominous strings to foretell trouble.
This was the first time I had been to a doctor for anything other than childhood diseases or the summer I had Mononucleosis. Which by the way is a great disease to lose weight with. I had “mono” the summer of Woodstock and missed the three days of peace and love because of it. When I went back to school I could feel my ribs! But then a McDonald’s opened up near the school and I lost touch with my ribs very fast.
This Doctor, who I thought at the time was a communist, examined me, weighed me and told me I was “Morbidly Obese”. I just looked at the man. He said “Do you know what that means?” I shook my head no. “You have
Clinically Severe Obesity.” He said.
”You are more than 100 pounds overweight.”
Cue the Violins.
This was, as you can imagine, quite a shock to me. I knew I was heavy but now it had a name? Morbidly? Obese?
The doctor went on to explain in great detail what was going to happen to me if I continued to be morbidly obese. This was a laundry list of ills that I was unprepared for. Hypertension. Diabetes. Arthritis. Heart problems.
I was hardly listening. I was stuck on “morbidly”.
I was 20 years old. How could I be “morbidly” anything at 20?
Why did I think the Doctor was a communist? Because he proceeded to tell me how I was going to live my life. If that’s not communism, what is? No more fast food. No more this. No more that. And if I was to live I would eat mostly stuff like vegetables, and fruits and maybe a little bit of chicken or a small amount of meat. No Ice cream. No potato chips. No pickle and cheese sandwiches. No Oreos.
It was my first “diet”. And like so many to follow it didn’t work.
For you see the Communist doctor was right. Eventually I developed many of the ills he told me I would.
Lord knows I tried to lose weight. But it was much later in my career that I discovered a weight loss secret. I will share it with you at some point.
Life went on and I became more skilled at my craft, both on the air and behind a desk. I took some management classes at a local college at night, which was a struggle as I was doing the morning shift and found it hard to stay awake in the lecture hall. But I did learn and it was worth the effort.