Find Out the One Thing That Truly Frightens a Radio DJ
Like one of those moments in life where everything slows down around you, and you're helpless to watch and wait for the tragedy to strike. It's the one thing that will get a radio DJ to shut his big, fat mouth. It... is a busted voice.
It's not laryngitis. It's more like a slow, tortuous death of your voice. It's the worst thing in the world when you make your living with your voice. It's not as if I can slink away to my cubicle and count the hours until the day is done. I'm using my vocal chords for 8 hours worth of radio every day across two stations. I can't run, and I can't hide. I also can't really do anything about it.
I knew as soon as I committed to taking on more work on Thursday nights it would be risky. With four hours worth of play-by-play for Temple High School football every Friday night, the ups & downs of vocal inflection throughout those four quarters sucks every last bit of my voice from me weekly. Throw in five hours spent in smoky clubs & restaurants Thursday nights, and it inevitably was going to happen.
I felt fine at 7pm Thursday night as I went to host trivia at the Green Door in Temple. This is after those 8 hours on-air during the day. After three hours behind the mic shouting trivia questions & answers I was beginning to feel the strain. 30 questions and answers per round combined with all my smartass comments in between the questions with smoke wafting through the air started me down a path I've experienced enough in the past that I immediately recognized what was happening.
As trivia concluded at 10pm I saddled up and headed to the big Weekend Kickoff Party at Denim & Diamonds in Temple. Zach has done a great job at D & D fixing it up and making it a great atmosphere without a ton of smoke. That doesn't help, however, when everyone in your immediate vicinity is lighting up. Believe me, I'm usually not a baby about cigarette smoke. I occasionally smoke pipe & cigar tobacco, but knowing my voice was on the fringe turned me into a whiny baby.
After partying down at D & D it was time to call it an evening. I went home without saying a word to anyone, knowing I was teetering on the brink. Friday morning I awoke to an empty house as I'd slept through Erica & the boys leaving for school. This meant there was no one to talk to... unless I wanted to be the crazy guy talking to the pets. It was only after taking my first phone call of the day that I knew it was sketchy.
I immediately put a plan into place to make sure I could make it through Friday night's football game. I loaded up on Ricola, got some hot liquids down my throat and held on tight. I was able to make it through my first radio show of the day, but with no improvement in my voice I decided to pull the plug on show #2. Central Texas would just have to start their weekend without me at the helm. I'm now in a wait-and-see mode.
I've been through worse than this. I would consider my level of vocal strain to be in the neighborhood of a 6 on a scale of 1-10. I've been up at a 9.5 before with an entire college basketball game to call without the help of a 2nd person to take some of the load off my vocal chords. I had to drink water every 15 seconds just to give my throat enough lubrication to work. Today's strain is not at a critical level yet, but I'm enough of a grizzled radio vet to know when my body's telling me it's time to chill out. I've taken the precautions. Now we wait. Pregame time is set for 7pm on Newsradio 1400 KTEM, so it might be worth a listen to see if I can make it through.