Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Old Airwaves

Wow. If you are interested in radio and television history in Central Illinois, you should check out Doug Quick’s web site. Quick is the weatherman at Champaign’s WICD/Ch. 15. He has a long history of working in both radio and TV in the area and his site has such goodies as old radio air checks from local pop stations (many from WDBR) going back as far as 1972 and the local TV schedules from days gone by. Check out this WICS/Ch. 20 retrospective. There is a ton of information (and links to even more stuff) on this site. Go there now, have fun. I think this site deserves a link on Look Back Springfield as well.

Personally, I like how Quick has incorporated pictures of the automation machines many radio stations used during the 1970's and 1980's. I was in radio for much of the 1980s and I remember those things well (WDBR had one, for example). Essentially, they were large machines, taking up entire walls, which used multiple reel-to-reel tapes to play music and (usually) had pre-recorded announcements and commercials during breaks.

I encountered my first such machine in 1983 when I started a new job at a radio station near Rockford. While being given my initial tour of the station, I was taken into a room that pretty much only had one of these mechanical monsters in it. In big black letters, the machine had the name "FRED" on it. When I inquired why the machine was called FRED, I was told it stood for Fucking Ridiculous Electronic Device. FRED and I had an often tumultuous relationship for the next five years and Quick’s site brings the memories flooding back.

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