Disc Jockey vs The Silence Sense Alarm

April 9, 2020

How many of you worked at an automated station which utilized the old Carousel system? The one with music on reels and the spots on rotating “wheels” of carts. These were common in the 1970s and 80s. Most began their lives when an established AM station built a new FM. The FM usually ran a Beautiful Music or similar format which didn’t require the personality and energy of a live jock. In order to save money, the FM utilized this machinery instead of an airstaff.

When FM achieved dominance, the roles reversed. By the late 1980s, it was the FM station that was live. The AM had been relegated to the dark halls of mechanical automation. In 1988-89, I worked for such an operation in Bend, Oregon. Our FM (KXIQ 94.1) was live CHR. Our AM (KGRL 940) was automated Classic Gold aka “Oldies.” It was here that I became acquainted with that nifty little device known as the “silence sense alarm.” When KGRL’s automation malfunctioned (a daily occurrence), the alarm would go off. There is nothing more annoying than being in the middle of a break and hearing that high pitched noise in your headphones. Instantly, your entire train of thought disappears. Your break is ruined. As in completely.

After this happened several times, “someone” decided to stop it by disconnecting the alarm speaker. It was one of those small piezo tweeters from Radio Shack. A few weeks later, the corporate engineer came down from Portland. Upon discovering this, he reconnected the speaker. “Someone” promptly disconnected it again.

The next time the engineer came down, he installed a plexiglass box over the speaker. It was one of those things that office managers put over thermostats during the Jimmy Carter “dial down” era to keep people from turning up the heat. Attached to the wall with multiple screws, it could not easily be removed.

About a week later, I’m on the air. A coworker comes into the studio and says “Hey, the AM has been dead for about 15 minutes!” I said “That’s strange. The alarm didn’t go off.”

Upon examination, I immediately realized why. Someone stuck an ice pick through the slots of the plexiglass cover and punctured the speaker! The poor thing had been stabbed multiple times. Apparently, it succumbed to its wounds and died immediately. No, it wasn’t me who did it this time!

Video may have killed the radio star, but a frustrated DJ killed our silence sense alarm!