Sunday 04 Dec 2016

College Radio
Matt Seinberg

I can readily admit that I miss college. I had some of the best times of my life in college, most of them related to the radio station of the New York Institute of Technology, WNYT. I’ve mentioned the station numerous times before, so I won’t go into all the history again.

Because I became friends with the General Manager and Chief Engineer, I made it on the air quickly, without much training. I went to New York Tech to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Communication Arts. The degree and $2.50 will get me on the subway to interview for a radio job in New York City that I won’t get.

For me, some weekends would start 5 pm on Friday, at the radio station, with all my DJ friends drinking from a bottle of Jack Daniels. Some weekends would end sometime on Sunday night after I finished my 2-6 pm shift. Often there would also be the sweet smell of marijuana wafting through the air.

All college DJs think they are hot stuff, ready for the big time after doing about six shows on their college station. Please remember that WNYT was not an over the air station. It was then the background music for show aired by Cablevision, called, “What’s On” Channel Q. That was back in 1976 when I was 18 years old and thought I knew everything about everything; somewhat how my 16-year-old daughter thinks now.

I digress. This past week at work, my friend Kathleen brought in an air check of herself, in the 1970s. Her show was on WQCC, the radio station of Queens Community College. She warned me how terrible her air check was and to focus on certain breaks in her show. I readily admitted to her that my own college air checks were bad, as well.

The next day, as I’m ironing my clothes for work, I listen to her show. She wasn’t wrong about being awful. She sounded like a Valley Girl on steroids. I couldn’t laugh because I knew my own were just as bad.

I popped in my own WNYT air check and prepared myself. I hadn’t listened to these tapes in years. I knew my own air checks would be fresh to my ears. Holy crap, I didn’t realize how bad I truly was!

At the time, no one said a word. Did no one listen to my shows? I blame my friend, Dennis Falcone, who was the programme director (PD), at the time, for the weekend Top 40 format.

Dennis, why didn’t you give direction, comments and guidance? Why did you let me (us) sound so awful? How could you let us puke and pretend to be Dan Ingram? 

I must give Dennis credit for having a good radio career. He stuck with it, unlike myself and made a living working in radio. He still does it, along with being a party DJ as well.

I was at WNYT for almost three years, and improved enough to get an internship and on air work at WGLI-AM in Babylon, NY. It didn’t hurt that Dennis had interned there before me; he helped me get an interview the PD at WGLI-AM, Dennis Moore.

Back in those days, college radio was the training ground for the next generation of men and women who would try to make a career of radio. We got plenty of airtime and learned the craft of talking into a microphone and entertaining people. I guess that’s one reason I don’t have a problem talking in front of large groups of people and am successful in sales.

Today, college radio stations still offer the training for on the air work, production and engineering, but there’s a big problem. That problem is there are few jobs and few career opportunities in radio anymore. With a handful of corporations owning too many radio stations and cutting jobs every year, where are all those college graduates with broadcasting degrees supposed to go.

The sad truth is that unless radio changes its self-destructive ways; if radio doesn’t stop catering to the shareholders and Wall Street; if radio starts paying attention to what their audience want, college radio will just be a playground for those women and men wanting to get in the business.

I miss being on the air, I really do. I would love to do it part time, but with my schedule, trying to find that kind of gig is tough, if not impossible. I hope and dream that someday I’ll get the chance again. Sure and pigs will fly and a unicorn will appear in my house, with Jennifer Love Hewitt riding it.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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