Your Biggest On Air Screw up..

A case of PEBKAC (Problem Exists Between Keyboard and Chair)? Tell us about your war stories!
PaulBWalkerJr
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Your Biggest On Air Screw up..

Post by PaulBWalkerJr » Wed May 14, 2008 7:15 pm

I know this is a topic that gets brought up from time to time across the internet, but I wanted to ask it here.

Most of y'all here are engineers, but I know some of us have been on the air as well too. So, I'm curious.... what is your biggest on air screw up?

I have a few, and one isn't even my fault.

I recorded the intro for a High School Baseball game (intro'ing the host and sponsors) that aired on an AM sports station in Northwest Arkansas back on Saturday, May 10th. Well, somehow, the automation system for their co-owned alternative rock formatted FM station ended up playing an outdated cart during their Lunch Hour Request show on Tuesday.

That outdated cart number? You guessed it, my intro for the sponsors and the host of the Saturday afternoon high school baseball game!

I once was on the air at a CCm station, justas the music was ending, ready to do a live Legal ID at TOH and went, "Its 5pm and you're listening to WABV Abb... oops, this is Love 1340 AM WWNH Madbury Dover Rochester and Portsmouth.. I gotta remember where the heck I am, time for USA Radio Network news"

The owner was in the next room, but didn't hear it and never said a word.

Another time, I was recording the weather at 2am for later that day. It was an old DOS based system, so every time I screwed up, I'd have to start again....... and every time I screwed up. I swore a few times 'cuse I was pissed at myself.

After about 30 minutes, I finally got the 12 forecasts done...I looked up and the mic wasn't in just audition .. it was in program as well. I had justspent 30 minutes doing the weather and swearing over the top of CNN Headline News.

NEVER heard ONE word from ANYONE about that either.

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Re: Your Biggest On Air Screw up..

Post by rockmanac » Wed May 14, 2008 10:00 pm

This was at WREX... A button popped off the MC switcher and I figured I could just wiggle it back on with-out disturbing anything as it was the source that was currently on-air. Unfortunately in the process, I managed to bump the button for camera 3 (they were also wired to our MC switcher) at which point our meteorologist popped up on screen, sitting in the weather center watching something on TV with his feet up on the desk.

In hindsight, I probably should have by-passed the MC switcher before attempting to put the button back on.

I should note, by the way, this was in the middle of NBC prime-time programming.

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Re: Your Biggest On Air Screw up..

Post by NECRAT » Wed May 14, 2008 10:16 pm

If it was an old grass valley switcher, you could have pressed the NET button while popping the other button in. That way either, a) if the button you were inserting was to the RIGHT of net, it wouldnt have effected it, or b) it would have only appeared for a second.
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Re: Your Biggest On Air Screw up..

Post by Dave Loudin » Mon May 19, 2008 10:37 am

Back in 1978, just as the Iranian revolution was getting going, I was a high-schooler pulling evening and weekend shifts at the local Class IV. We read national and state news from AP (chunka-chunka-chunka) every hour, which meant "rip-n-read" in most cases. I was pretty adept at looking ahead of what I was saying in order to work out the tough words, and AP was pretty generous with including phonetic spellings with tricky place names and such. Anyways, one of the stories in the first newscast I read one day described the political fervor in Iran, including naming the Shiites. The phonetic guide was in the copy, but I called 'em "sh*tty moslems", instead. The feared avalanche of calls never materialized after I got back into music, so I suppose the audience agreed with my assessment.
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Re: Your Biggest On Air Screw up..

Post by techboywi » Mon May 19, 2008 11:31 am

Dave Loudin wrote:Back in 1978, just as the Iranian revolution was getting going, I was a high-schooler pulling evening and weekend shifts at the local Class IV. We read national and state news from AP (chunka-chunka-chunka) every hour, which meant "rip-n-read" in most cases. I was pretty adept at looking ahead of what I was saying in order to work out the tough words, and AP was pretty generous with including phonetic spellings with tricky place names and such. Anyways, one of the stories in the first newscast I read one day described the political fervor in Iran, including naming the Shiites. The phonetic guide was in the copy, but I called 'em "sh*tty moslems", instead. The feared avalanche of calls never materialized after I got back into music, so I suppose the audience agreed with my assessment.


LOL! That is one of the best stories I've ever seen on here!
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Re: Your Biggest On Air Screw up..

Post by countrykev » Mon May 19, 2008 12:35 pm

My experiences:

We were doing a live morning show from a local theater on New Year's Eve 1999. I was the board op. The talent left me a sheet with all of his bits and things he wanted me to do. Except he forgot one. He's interviewing a tech from the local phone company about Y2K, and the talent says "Well, hopefully this won't happen tonight at midnight". Then a pause (this was the bit he forgot to tell me about). Rather than move on, the talent starting asking me on the air "911...Kevin, load 911"

I should point out that that morning I had about 2 hours of sleep and by this point was barely comprehending what was happening. All I heard was "911...Kevin, 911".

So I look at the phone, say "Okay, he told me to!" and pick up the phone, dial 911 and put it on the air.

The talent suddenly realizes what is happening when the operator greets with "Emergency Center." The talent quickly says "Oh no, no! We didn't mean to call 911, we're sorry we apologize!" The operator seemed surprisingly nice and understanding through the experience.

The live audience is cracking up.

After realizing what I did, I quickly became very aware of the scale of my mistake and realized that I might have just cost myself this job. I walk over the theater after the show to talk to the PD and GM, fully expecting to be fired. When they saw me they just started laughing at me. Of course, I was sternly told never to do something like that ever again, but everybody at the theater got a huge kick out of the mistake, including the director of the 911 center! I was teased about that for a long time...

Oh, what the talent wanted me to do was load and play file "911" in the Audio Vault.

Myself on-air I haven't done anything too bad. Of course, there are a few times I couldn't stop laughing because of a mischevous co-worker in the studio or saying the wrong station ID, etc...
What the heck am I supposed to write here?

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Re: Your Biggest On Air Screw up..

Post by jodyritchie » Fri Nov 26, 2010 7:02 pm

Years ago i was a dj for a little am Daytimer in Hyden KY WSLK.At that station the dj's also read the news.Well in the news story there was worded multiple organism.What did i say multiple orgasms.My face was very very red...LOL

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Re: Your Biggest On Air Screw up..

Post by BingNYEng » Wed Jan 05, 2011 3:29 pm

Back in the late 1990's, I was hosting a jazz shift on a public radio station in southwest Kansas. I usually left the mic potted up, and used the on/off buttons on the RS-12 console when I wanted to talk. One evening, I dropped my pen, and got down on my hands and knees to find it under the console. When I went to stand up, I smacked my head on the underside of the counter and let out a blue streak. I also realized that the monitors were silent. When I looked at the console, the mic pot was "on".

I still have that aircheck... How long is the statute of limitations?

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Re: Your Biggest On Air Screw up..

Post by Koredump » Tue Feb 08, 2011 7:07 pm

1975 at WKIX-AM...I was filling in for the all-night guy, while I installed a new mic processor. Terry Tucker, the CE, decided to kill the monitor DA while I was in the middle of a weathercast...the phones, CR monitor went dead.
Naturally, I thought our old BC-10P had tripped off.

With the mike open, I announced to half of North Carolina.."Oh f***!!...that GD power supply again!!"

The PD was on the horn in 30 sec.

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Re: Your Biggest On Air Screw up..

Post by Kent T » Mon Dec 17, 2012 8:10 pm

I was called in on a Monday morning after being yanked out of school in Oak Ridge, TN. I was about 12 years old and a young parttimer. The GM sits me down near the control room entrance, our morning man was getting a visit from the local Police. He was dealing dope. He sees the Police enter the control room, he gets handcuffed and read his rights. Right as Mutual News is running. He's led out of the control room, the GM says, "You're the new morning man until we can get a replacement, be yourself and do your best". I read the weather and the sweet smell of Grass is strong. I launch into my forecast, "It is 45 Kilos at 9:05 AM and highs will be 74 Kilos and weren't we all high then". I start the 45, our morning man leaves "One Toke Over The Line" and I come out of it with a buzz on and the first reading of the "Wacky Weed Weather Forecast". Got overtime too. Shift goes well, the GM comes out and thanks me. And I never desired any Weed ever again. 2 months later I go back to being a young combo man with a First Phone and a weekend airshift. Life was good!

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Re: Your Biggest On Air Screw up..

Post by REW » Tue Dec 18, 2012 11:06 pm

This wasn't my screw up but it has been the dumbest I have seen. Back in the 70,s I was the engineer for a local AM station. We had a Sunday morning guy that couldn't pour "P" out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel. Every Sunday morning at signon my phone would ring with some problems. One problem was "I can't hear anything when I turn the mic on." The fix, Put the headphones on. Another Sunday morning he called and said that every time he turned the mic on there was a loud squeeling noise. I listened on air and he was right. I had been having some problems with the muting relay in the console but I thought I had it fixed. I get up and drive to the station and when I get there everything is working good. No problems to be found. I sit around for a few minutes and then go to the car. Just as I was leaving the parking lot the squeeling noise comes back on as the DJ(dumb jerk) was reading the news. He keeps reading and just lets it squeel. I hurry back into the control room and find the source of the feedback, the DJ brought a radio to work with him and had it turned up in the control room. He said he wanted to see what he sounded like on the radio.
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Re: Your Biggest On Air Screw up..

Post by BroadcastDoc » Wed Dec 19, 2012 11:14 am

I was working at an AM daytimer in high school. Like many small stations at the time, the owner employed pretty much anyone willing to be paid minimum wage. At any rate, I got a call at home one Saturday morning - the owner wanted me to run to the radio station since I lived nearby. The station seemed to be off the air, but the person on the air insisted that everything was fine.

So I pull into the parking lot, and I'm not hearing a thing. I walk in, and sure enough the transmitter (which was right behind the control room) was off. Meanwhile the DJ was sitting there spinning records having a great old time.

The issue? Someone put the monitor in program, and the DJ assumed that if you could hear the station in the monitors that it was on the air. She even dutifully took transmitter readings the entire morning...writing "0" in all the appropriate blanks.

Along those same lines, I was working at an FM many years ago. The station went off the air, silencing the monitors. The Engineer flipped the monitors and headphones to program and told the DJ to keep on playing songs while he went out to take a look.

The song ends and the DJ flips on the mic and says "That was the Rolling Stones, not that it fu**ing matters since we're not on the air..." The Engineer then calls to inform him that he was, in fact, back on the air.

Ahh...the good old days...
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Re: Your Biggest On Air Screw up..

Post by Deep Thought » Wed Dec 19, 2012 11:59 am

This didn't involve me, but at WPGU in Champaign-Urbana long ago, when the station was off for maintenance one Sunday night a certain engineer who shall remain nameless opened the mic and, among other things, said "breaker breaker 1-9" while waiting for someone else to get to the transmitter site atop what was then the Century 21 hotel in the middle of Campustown. Almost immediately the phone rang. He picked it up and the person on the other end replied "that's a big 10-4 good buddy".

It's amazing how much RF can pass from an unmuted 10 watt exciter through an "off" 4CX1000 in a Collins 830D. In fact, it was hard to tell when that transmitter had tripped off until you got a mile or so away from the antenna, which mile pretty much encompassed the entire University of Illinois campus and student residences. :lol:
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Re: Your Biggest On Air Screw up..

Post by bl40modulimiter » Thu Sep 15, 2016 10:49 pm

Where shall I begin? I notice you folks seem polite, and thanks for the add to the group. So...I shall try to behave. However....
My first on air gaffe happened at WGCB-AM in Red Lion 1979. The engineer had the AM on the air after midnight for a proof at full 1kw power. The fm carried ABC FM news which you had to record on ancient Viking/Spotb@ast@rd cart machines and play back later in the hour. It failed. And I stomped into the air studio where my friend the engineer had the mic open on both stations for some reason and asked "How the h*ll can one radio station s*ck so much?". It was a Christian station. No calls. My 1st job at age 16.

Morning drive at 98YCR, York PA 1984, live read for Southern States store: "Big Red Dog Food just $xxx for a 20lb bag." ME: "Big Red DONG food...."

There are more. If this thread comes back to life, I shall share more.

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Re: Your Biggest On Air Screw up..

Post by RGORJANCE » Fri Sep 16, 2016 8:58 am

Not my greatest screw-up, but a good one by someone else nevertheless.

"Back in the day" at the old KOME in Tulsa, a rather arrogant, stubborn, opinionated anncr/newsgrunt popped into his booth at just past the last possible second. He indicated to the dj to turn his mike on and was greeted by frantic waving, pointing, etc. He made a rude gesture to the dj, and proceeded to do his "5 minutes of fame". At the conclusion of his newscast, he went into the control room and started railing on the dj......."what the H... was that all about". The dj calmly replied that "hey, there warn't no microphone in the news booth", so he played music for 5 minutes. Duhhhhhhh!

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