It was the most exciting Thursday of my life, at least to date.
A chilly late-winter/early-spring afternoon with my half of the dorm room covered with RCA cables, cassette decks, a mixer, and my computer. My buddy Mike from down the hall had DJ headphones on (well, just regular headphones) and his portable CD player wired up.
It was go time. I played the pre-recorded intro, which featured the theme song from COPS for some reason, and off we went… a genuine college pirate broadcast.
I’d just bought the Q95.9 FM pirate transmitter a month before when Mike had flippantly thrown out a, “Dude, we should totally do a radio show, man!”
From Fantasy to Reality
Mike was the only person I knew who failed out of wildlife biology. A surfer from Florida, he is also the only person I’ve known to drop out of college and fly off to Tahiti with a random girl and mooch off the locals for several months until he ran out of money.
But the idea of a radio show captivated him so much, he actually stuck with it — and a few weeks later, “Open Mike with Mike” was bouncing off FM antennas across a two-block radius of our dorm.
An hour-and-a-half of college radio glory.
Terrible, but We Loved It Anyway
It’s college radio. It sucks. He misses cues. My tech support on the equipment caused dropped volume levels and deafening hiss to make the show nearly unlistenable at points.
We actually got a few calls … and then totally mocked the poor girl calling in. When you only have a listener base of a half-dozen, tops, we didn’t exactly have room to be alienating people from calling in.
Yes, Cassette Tapes
You read that right. Computers were still big bulky desktops in 2004, and it certainly helped with firing some songs, quickly pirating requests (remember WinMX and Kaaza?), but that was about it.
When a listener called in, we would quickly unplug the CD player from the mixer and plug it into the transmitter directly. Then we’d plug the mixer into a portable cassette recorder which let us tape a listener call. Then we’d quickly reverse the process before the song ended, so we could re-air the call over the air.