Friday, June 21, 2013

My First Radio Studio Part 1

It's just a few days before the start of summer. But with the last half of the year about to begin that means Christmas will be here before you know it. 

Do you remember the thrill of watching commercials on Saturday morning cartoons, going to the local toy store or, paging through toy catalogs around Christmas time when you were a kid? Every child in America picked out hundreds of things he or she wanted Santa to bring them and made sure their parents knew about them in detail. 

Well, in 1975, the year I was a freshman in high school, I found something I wanted more than anything. 

At 15, the world of radio was my passion. My hopes and dreams were all invested in one day being a DJ, I want to make a career out of talking up records, reading news and commercials, as well as updating listeners on the latest weather forecast. I was going to be the next Casey Kasem. 

That holiday season I found the perfect way to "practice" my future vocation in privacy of my own room. 

Ever since I got my first cassette tape recorder, 4 years earlier (See my September 12, 2012 post for details) I had been taping my own "radio shows" but had to put the microphone up next to my record player's speakers and talk into it at the same time in order to mix my voice and the music. 

But the thing I wanted most that Christmas would change all of that. It was a combination turntable (the "official" radio term for a record player) and PA system that allowed anyone to play DJ at home. It mixed the sound of the microphone with the music and played them through the same set of speakers. 

There was also a set of head phones so you could listen to yourself as loudly as you wanted and not disturb your whole household. The technology is extremely ancient by today's standards but was cutting edge in the world of electronic toys at the time. 

What really made the toy seem like a real radio studio was the cardboard display you set up in the back of the record player. It had 4 sections.  

The right side of the board was the place you hung your headphones and mic when you weren't using them. The left side allowed you to use an erasable grease pencil (this was prior to dry erase boards) to write your own commercial copy and weather to announce to your "listeners". You could also write a list of records you wanted to play. 

After months of campaigning to my parents in a way that would have made "Ralphie" from "A Christmas Story" proud; I was lucky enough to discover my heart's desire under the tree that year. 

Opening that DJ studio on that Christmas morning in 1975 was one of the best memories I have from my childhood.  

As you might gather from my reminiscing nearly 38 years later I still hold the memory of that record player near and dear to my heart. I've often thought about trying to find one again for sentimental reasons. 

Although I could picture it in my mind I could not recall what brand name it was or even if it had one. I couldn't even remember what store or catalog it came from. With all the resources my mom used to buy our Christmas presents as we were growing up there were plenty of choices. I had no clue where to even begin looking. 

Ever since I've been able to get on the internet I've been doing random searches with some general generic words such as : disc jockey and turntable. But I hadn't even been able to find a picture of my first radio studio. 

But recently I've had a "breakthrough" in my recollections about that special gift. I'll share the memory that turned out to be a game changer in my quest and what happened as a result of my new search path in part 2 of "My First Radio Studio" next time. 

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