Words of Advice:

"If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It." -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot, by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse." -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Friday, February 3, 2017

Radio Daze

When I was in college, I messed around from time to time with the school's low-power FM radio station. I had a third class commercial license, which allowed me to turn knobs, I guess. I had a great radio slot, too; 6-9 AM on Sundays. Maybe six people listened in at any given time.

The radio station had a phone with both inside lines (college PBX) and outside lines. You could tell whether the incoming call was from a college line or outside. Like most PBX systems back in the day, you could either dial the internal number or dial 9 for an outside line. [1]

So one night, I was listening to the station. The DJ put on a record track that, at one point, had the lyrics "fa-fa-fa-fa fuck youuuu."

I went to the phone in the hall (there weren't phones in the rooms, this was the old days), dialed 9 and then dialed the number for the station's outside line. [2]

When the kid working the board answered the phone, I pitched my voice low, gave him a name and said that I was a frequency compliance inspector with the Federal Communications Commission and that I was in town because we had to recertify the instrument approach systems at the local airport. I said that I had been listening to the station and kid, did you know that deliberately broadcasting obscene and profane material was a violation of FCC regulations and Federal law? I was throwing regulation part numbers and Federal Code numbers at him like a fucking boss and the kid was just eating that shit up-- especially when I started in on the criminal penalty for willful violation of the law.

The kid was almost crying as he promised never to to do it again. I ended by saying "see that you don't" and hung up.

Three weeks later, the radio station held a routine staff meeting in a lecture hall. Since most people who worked at the station had one two or three hour slot a week, not to mention the ones who had a ten-minute news program in the evening, there were a lot of people at the meeting. The general manager told everyone not to broadcast obscene material, as somebody had and a FCC guy, who had been passing through, heard it and had called in to ream out the offending DJ. [3]

A few people expressed skepticism. The kid stood up and said something along the lines of: "It was me that did it and this was no shit, the guy who called in was a real Fed, he called on an outside line, he knew all the laws and regulations and told me what they were and not to do it again or I'd be in real trouble."

At this point, I was trying so hard not to laugh. I had put my head in my arms on the desk and my shoulders were shaking. I never told anyone there about it.

I never tried another phone prank, for I couldn't see ever topping that one.
[1] Incoming calls to the PDX system went through a switchboard, which was a patch-cord affair.
[2] Caller ID hadn't yet been invented.
[3] The next time that I was in the station, I pulled out the album which had that track on it. Somebody had deliberately scored the track with a nail (or something) to ensure that nobody could ever play it again on the air.