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Saturday, March 30, 2013

The EGO Factor

The EGO Factor

Have you ever had one job interest that you excelled at in life, and you knew that you are good enough to earn a living, doing it for the rest of your life?  However a sixth sense (or maybe the spirit) tells you to beware.  It almost sounds like the apple (the forbidden fruit) because you are supposed to stay away from it.
It’s going to take at least two posts for this story to be fully covered, but trust me it’s a life changer, and worth telling.  Let’s go back to my early years when I was working three jobs, and going to college, while married and with a beautiful little daughter. One day while trying to cut down the number of part time jobs I had; trading up for one or two good ones that paid well, I saw an opportunity advertised. The job description attracted me like a fruit fly to a ripe banana.  Must have excellent English to Spanish translation skills, and able to write legibly, must be dependable, and punctual, able to start immediately.

I called for an interview (it was a 24 hour Spanish Broadcast Radio Station in Central California).  After a short conversation I was directed to a desk in a production room.  I was told to go to the AP (Associated Press) Teletype, and pick 5 news articles that might be of interest to Hispanic radio listeners. Being Hispanic, I knew what I wanted to hear during a news broadcast, but I wanted to impress the interviewer with variety.  I must have taken all of 2 minutes to pick my material to translate.  What cinched the job for me is that there was a Remington Rand manual typewriter in the small office.  When I walked into Mr. Rossi’s office (station manager) with the typewritten translation he made the comment, “and he can type too.”  The bottom line is that he found only one mistake in the translations, and he attributed that to a matter of choice on word usage.  I got the job, and started the very next day (a Saturday).

Mr. Rossi took me under his wing because of my ability to handle the job as if I owned the radio station.  Within a couple of months he had me in the production room reading my own news translations into 4 track cassette cartridges for use by all the on air personalities every hour on the hour following the radio station identification.  My voice was on the air, and I was so very proud of that.  I was soon asked by Mr. Rossi if I would consider taking the morning on air shift on Sunday morning.  I told him I would like to but didn’t think I was ready.  He scheduled me in the production room one hour a day for a couple of weeks recording a one hour program on reel to reel format, and would critique my recordings.  My problem was not the ability but the stage fright factor of speaking into a live microphone.

One Sunday morning I arrived early for my shift to translate the news articles, and record them on cartridge for Sunday news use. Mr. Peinado was the Sunday morning On Air Personality and very popular one.  He told me he wasn’t feeling well and asked me if I would cover the program for him while he used the restroom.  He pointed to a stack of selected vinyl recordings that he had set aside and told me to play from that stack any song that I chose. He said I didn’t have to open the microphone because he would be back before any live commercials had to be read on the air. He did tell me to make sure I followed the log to the letter.

The log is basically the script that you follow when performing on air duty.  He was taking a bit too long, and I was coming up to a live commercial for Piggly Wiggly Super Market. I nervously went down the hall to call him but he wasn’t in the restroom, and when I looked out to the parking lot my car was the only one there.  Mr. Peinado had left the building.  I ran back to the control room in time to open the microphone and read the live copy for the commercial.  Imagine if you will trying not to sound nervous and speaking with authority; (in Spanish of course) the specials this week at Piggly Wiggly are. When I finally closed the microphone I had a song cued and ready to go, I took a deep breath and felt proud, and remember thinking, that wasn’t bad at all.

Soon the phone in the control room rang (red light flashes), and when I answered it, to my surprise it was Mr. Rossi.  My first thought was that he must have heard my voice on the air and he is going to fire someone. Actually he congratulated me, and told me that he and Ignacio (Mr. Peinado) were in his van parked down the street listening to the program with a copy of the Radio Station Log, checking for accuracy.  I had been on the air for one and a half hours without errors.  He informed me that I was to finish that shift and to plan on taking the Sunday morning shift going forward.

Since that very day a monster was created.  If anyone following this blog has ever done on air radio station work (or television for that matter) they will attest that a high level of ego goes with the feeling of being on the spotlight (especially if well received).   That, however, was only the beginning of my battle with the adversary; it gets much worst before it gets better.  The sequel is on the way. The best is yet to come…..

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