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13 Scary Things About Radio

In honor of Halloween here is my list of what’s really scary about radio.

The first, seventh or 20th time you find yourself alone, at night, in a radio station studio. There’s something creepy about sitting in a padded room, talking into a microphone and hoping/praying/believing someone is listening, understanding what you’re trying to say and getting it.


No one enjoys free food more than radio people, except when delivered by listeners. We’ve all seen the food that sits on the table as everyone watches out of the corner of their eye waiting for the first sucker to try it to see if it’s poisoned.

Listeners are our life blood, but if you have the slightest bit of a germ phobia then shaking listener’s hands at events is only a little less scary than hugging them.

Nielsen-ppmIt’s scary to think that our careers, in part, rest in the hands of someone who is so desperate for money or power or both they’re willing to wear the Nielson equivalent of a beeper every day for some extra beer money each month.

When you really stop to consider it, it’s frightening to me that the kids making $10/hr. are responsible for making sure the spots, which account for 80%+ of the station’s revenue, play correctly. These are the same kids who look at their shoes when they pass you in the hallway.

Dead Air. Death is in its name! Can it get much scarier?  It comes in many forms;

  • The moment of panic when the computers seize up, you can’t play a song, you can’t go to break, you open your mouth and have nothing to say.
  • When you’re listening to your radio station driving down the highway and it goes silent.
  • When you race to the bathroom during a song and forget your keycard to get back into the studio area and you can hear the song ending over the loud-speaker and know nothing is going to happen in 10, 9, 8, 7…

Five words phrases to send shivers down your spine:

  • RefrigeratorThe radio station coffee pot. (freezer/refrigerator)
  •  Back of the promo closet.
  •  The old jock lounge couch.
  •  Back of the station van.
  •  A darkened traffic director’s office.

What would you add to this list of scary things about radio? Add them to the comments below.

RELATED: This week’s Radio Stuff Podcast (episode 75) shares three stories of haunted radio stations.

  1. October 31, 2014 at 4:39 PM

    Mind you, I was last on the air in 1996, so this is a bit dated. 😉

    Working at a Podunk station in the middle of nowhere during a heavy thunderstorm, and looking out at that giant lightning rod of an antenna tower out back.

    The cart machine working improperly and *two* PSAs playing one on top of the other. Or worse, a commercial and the station ID. And having the station manager call you right in the middle of you trying to fix the mistake. [Yes, this has happened to me.]

    Running out of things to play during station breaks when you’re broadcasting a remote game. And you’ve already played every PSA at least once already. [Yes, this has happened to me as well.]

    Wondering just how old this equipment really is. And if it’s up to code.

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