Dangerspouse Rides Again

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Nov. 14, 2003 - 5:07 p.m.

"Blow, winds, and crack your phone poles!"

The ol' Bard really IS relavent even today...when tweaked a bit, anyway.

But yeah, I haven't had internet access for the past day and a half. Phone lines, cable, electric - all cast to the winds of Dante's 2nd Circle of Hell. Same thing at work. Same as a lot of people in the Northeast. These were some wind storms. But now - back! Ain't life grand?

Let me go off on a little tangent here. When I was in High School I was a Dante geek. If you thought Trekkies were insufferable, or Tolkein fans pretensious, then you never met a 15 year old determined to dazzle you with his familiarity of late 13th/early 14th century Italian "tercet cantos". I think I read 9 different versions of the "Divine Comedy" trying to see which I preferred: translations that kept the triple rhyming scheme (at the expense of awkward vocabulary) or those that morphed to prose or free-verse.

I didn't have many friends.

But I did have a rich fantasy life. I would fall asleep nights contemplating which Circle of Hell I'd be consigned to, were I judged on that day's activities. Most times it was pretty obvious: Cirle 3 - the Gluttons. For my Peanut M&M addiction I was to be stuck in a muddy wasteland, pelted by cold rain, dirty hail and snow for eternity. I figured it would be like moving to Idaho. Next most likely a future for me would be in Circle 8, Ring 2. For kissing the asses of innumerable teachers in hopes of a passing grade, I would join the other Flatterers who were immersed wholey or partly in a sea of excrement. Hey, I already live in New Jersey. Bring it on. Once in a while - every Mischief Night for instance - I would have to admit I'd take the express elevator to Circle 7, Ring 1 - Violence Against Neighbors.

Where I really wanted to end up though was Circle 2 - the Lustfull. Cicle 2's most prominant feature was an unceasing, powerful wind. The naked souls of those condemned here were blown along in a dervish dance of the damned. The torture for you if this is your fate, is that you are horny. Horny horny horny. And so is everyone else. As the wind carries you along on your never ending orbit, you bump into other naked, horny souls. You latch on to each other, make a little small talk, maybe get a quick feel in, then....whooosh! The wind tears you apart before you can consumate your filthy desires. You and your balls of blue then move on to the next frustrating encounter. You never, ever, end up hooking up.

Well, I figured this was pretty much my life at 15 anyway. But it had the benefit of actually meeting naked, horny women, however briefly. A distinct improvement, overall. I just had to commit the sin in order to get sent there. However that seemed far, far too unlikely a scenario back then. I would havekilled for the opportunity to commit that sin. But...that would send me back to Circle 7, Ring 1. Damn.

BTW, Dante deviated from the Church's official party line which said "The Thought is the Deed". Only people who actually DID the dirty, not merely thought about it, were sent to Circle 2 by Dante. I guess he figured Heaven would be completely depopulated if God stuck to the letter of the law on this one. Meanwhile, he also reserved a special place for Sodomites: Circle 7, Ring 3. That's worse than those who commit violence against their neighbors, suicides, and the wrathfull. God really, really hates blow jobs apparently. So keep it to Missionary postion kids, if you know what's good for you.

Some years later I converted, and am now a devout Athiest (for which I will be sent to Circle 6. Still not as bad as for sodomy, though.) So now I smugly snicker at those I hear aguing about which brand of fiction is the one True Way.

I bring this up because of Circle 8, Region 6 - the Hypocrites. It's about the lowest region I will probably be sentenced to, just above the 9th Circle and its famous ice field. Yes, farther down than the Sodomites, if you can believe it.

Why am I a hypocrate? Because I give feature reports on one of the biggest stations of the largest Christian radio network in the land. It's a 50,000 watt flamethrower that on a good day can be heard from the International North Pole Research Station to the Falkland Islands. And twice an hour, three minutes per report, 5 days a week, a desciple of Madelein Murray O'Hare has the con. That's 10% of their entire Morning Drive. Now granted, these are just traffic reports so I don't actually have the chance to bring down the system from the inside. But still, I really enjoy feeling subversive.

One of the morning drive announcers on this station - I'll call him "George", since that's his name - chats with me off-air once in a while. He knows I'm an Athiest, but he's actually scrupled enough that he will not tell his bosses. Instead, he expends a lot of breath trying to return me to the fold. "Dude, we've got to go out after work to a diner or something and discuss your reasons for losing Faith."

Dude, I'd rather be attacked by a Pit Bull with AIDS.

Nonetheless, I toe the line when I'm on their airwaves. When push comes to shove, I'm a professional. A hired gun who serves at the sufference of the stations he's on. So when I'm on 1010WINS, the nations largest all-news station, I use a very stern delivery full of gravitas and urgency. On my Morning Zoo station I'm the Comic Relief guy, sometimes the butt of jokes, and have to voice it accordingly. And so it is with the religous station. I switch to "soft, concerned Tom". NewWifey(tm) says I sound like a funeral director. But that's what they want. Despite their pig ignorance about How Life Should Be Lived, I have to cast my lot in with them 35 times a week if I want to live MY life. So I try to keep them happy.

Now follow along:

We have recently upgraded our broadcast studios with some high tech digital gadgetry. Corporate headquarters sent out techies to every corner of the Realm to make sure all conversions were done properly, and standardised from one facility to the next. So for about a week I had to put up with some guy crawling around between my legs running cable (not mine) while I was trying to play "The Birthday Game" on WOBM. But overall it went smoothly.

It didn't take long to adapt to the new system, which is pretty user friendly. A couple of new knobs, some nifty gee-whiz LED's, digital editing instead of carts, that sort of thing. I was a happy drone. For the first month.

Then, two days ago, I was about to do my first report of the morning on Huge Christian Radio. The music bed intro started, George did a time and temperature check, then said "And now we go to DangerSpouse for our first look at traffic and transit. A blessed good morning to you - are we seeing any early morning tie-ups?"

I keyed open my mic to speak, but what I heard answering him was a woman saying, "Oh man, she's jail bait!"

Oh no! What the hell happened??

I quickly clipped my mic off and dumped out of the segment. George, caught off guard, recovered quickly, saying "We seem to be having some technical difficulties. We'll see if we can't get DangerSpouse a little bit later on...."

I recognised the woman's voice. She is an announcer two booths down from me. She had been talking over HER mic off-air ("in cue" we call that) to one of her stations when she made that comment. And it somehow had gotten sent down MY broadcast line. Huh?

One of the most assinine cost cutting decisions our management ever made was the decision to cut back the hours that our station engineer would be AT the station. He works from 9am - 5pm. The busiest times in radio are from 5am-9am (Morning Drive) and 4pm-7pm (Afternoon Drive). Can you see the problem here? We service something like 120+ stations every day during drive times. If something goes wrong during our money times, he's two hours away in Connecticut!

That, of course, is when Ms. Jail Bait decided to make her debut on WGOD. We did the only thing we're allowed to do. We paged the engineer. Mr. Engineer, needless to say, values his sleep. So we had to wait until he finished his Count Chocula and grabbed another cup o' joe before he called us back and told us what to do. It turned out to be relatively simple - one of the new, brightly lit knobs needed to be turned. We did that, and the rest of my reports stayed within the boundries of the Vatican Council's mandates.

Fast forward 24 hours....

Yesterday morning at 0614, George goes into his schpiel. "...are we seeing any early morning tie-ups?"

I flip open my mic. And hear fellow announcer Joe N., in a studio halfway across the building, say, "Oh man, she's got a great rack!"

Mic off, George stammers through another 'technical difficulty', and I sprint to the phone. Finally get a hold of Mr. Engineer, who tells me the same fix. Salvation. It works again.

Of course this had to happen on my one and only God station. If these two renegade sentences had popped up on my Morning Zoo show, we would have made a bit out of it and the Program Director probably would have insisted we leave the glitch untouched. Fortunately, the head God guy was understanding. Apparently he's an engineer also, and has a certain ammount of sympathy for any new systems' birthing pains. But he did advise us to get it fixed quickly. I promised we would.

So this morning the engineer did his electronic troubleshooting dance. He put thingies on wires and watched a needle bounce around. He plugged output cables into input sockets. He chanted. He cast knuckle bones. And in the end...he found it.

And there was nothing he could do about it. It turns out the installers, who had flown out from Houston to do the grunt work, had connected a single strand of wire to the wrong spot on the panel. That was all it took. The result was that sometimes when I dialed in WGOD on my control board, the computer sent a signal to every other control board on our system. The first free signal it found, it connected to. And so jailbait with huge gazongas suddenly had a new home on the radio.

He couldn't do anything about it because the one wire that was the renegade was hiding among a sea of identical wires. Because he wasn't present at the installation he would have to thoroughly disassemble the entire mammoth structure, testing each wire individually, until he found it. We're talking months of cursing and solder burns. So...next week the nice men from Houston will be crawling around between my legs again while I do my reports over a 1953 Bakelite rotary phone, sounding like I'm calling in from the Mir Space Station.

That's Major Market Radio in a nutshell, folks. God, tits and cursing. Still the things I obsessed about when I was 15.

I'll see you in Hell.

Circle 7, Ring 3, if I know you.

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