Friday, March 28, 2008

Pretty good show - "All Things Considered"

Remember "All Things Considered"? You know, the radio show from National Public Radio that broadcasts Monday through Saturday?

Of course you do! It's still on the radio and just as good as ever.

Due to my nearly-every-day commute, I get to listen once again to the show I went to college with.

Back in the early 1970s our Christian College, preacher school college, had a radio station. WLCC-FM was an eclectic progamming melange (which is probably French for "mess") of high school basketball, UPI teletype news (from a real teletype, boys and girls) and episodes of "The Shadow" thrown in for good measure.

One day, we began carrying a new program from National Public Radio (aka "National Pubic Radio") called "All Things Considered.".

The station signed off in the afternoons so the Amateur Radio Club ("K9InGod'sBusiness") could go on the air and talk to missionaries around the world.

Then, at 4:59 p.m. Monday through Friday, the station would sign on for evening programming and the control board operator would hit the rewind button and one of the big reels of tape would rewind and be cued up so at exactly 5 p.m. the lilting notes of the ATC theme would begin playing.

In 1973, I laboriously taped an interview with a doctor who had served in a MASH unit in Vietnam. He brought back to central Illinois the methods used overseas to rescue car crash victims and other traumatized victims of accidents and violence and speed them to the nearest hospital emergency room.

I edited the tour down to about 6 minutes and we forwarded it to NPR in Washington for use on ATC.

To do so, we had to punch a paper tape and then use the tape to transmit the information via two-way teletype.

Then, we drove the tape to WILL, Urbana so it could be transmitted (by telephone, not satellite).

After all that, we learned there was an electrical hum on the tape. So, John Young, our radio station faculty sponsor and general manager, taped an interview with the doctor, at the radio station and I got to edit down the interview and we once again punched the paper tape, sent it via teletype to Washington and drove the recorded tape to WILL's studios on the University of Illinois campus.

But what a thrill I had to hear it on the air as part of "All Things Considered"!

Years later (more than 30 years later) I was being interviewed for a producer's job at a local TV station and I shared that memory.

"You know that really dates you," the news director said, teasing me.

Yes, but, I still get a kick out of listening to ATC on WILL radio on those daily commutes ... and remembering I was part of it, shortly after it all began.