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The Background

I attended Northern Kentucky University from 1990 to 1996, and majored in Radio/TV engineering and minored in Theater. Right after my first semester began, I discovered the campus carrier-current radio station WRFN, and quickly became a permanent fixture. I started as a DJ on air once a week, then did sales, production, news, and was General Manager from 1995-1996.

I met a lot of cool people at WRFN and am still friends with most of them today. We became a close-knit group, like our own little club, and would write and produce a lot of different things: promos, commercials, comedy spots, and even half-hour shows. We had a great time, and we all got constant practice doing radio production outside of a class. (I’m looking at this time through rose colored glasses, btw.)

Long before I started working at WRFN, I was a huge fan of Old Time Radio, i.e. Jack Benny, Great Gildersleeve, Fibber McGee and Molly, etc. When I got involved at WRFN, I was able to combine my creativity and writing to write and produce commercials and even some radio comedy shows. This is when I started developing my copywriting skills.

Our production studio was small and basic. These were the early 90s, during a time when radio stations nationwide were upgrading their facilities, moving away from tape to digital production on computers, using products like SAW (Software Audio Workshop) and ProTools.Not us. We didn’t even have a computer. In our production studio we had:

A mono BE five-channel rotary console
One Sennheiser mic
One CD player
One cassette deck
One BE playback cart machine
One Audicord recording cart machine
One QRK turntable
One Teac stereo reel to reel deck
Razor blades and splicing tape
One 4-channel EQ to feed the reel

And that was it. When I started in 1990, the station did not even have a CD player, which wasn’t all that unusual since CDs at the time were still growing in popular usage. We still played albums and had a wall full of carts for playback in the air studio. In 1991 I had to trade advertising for the CD player, the only way we could get one!

In 1993 one of the courses in my major was RTF150, Radio Production with Dr. Dave Thompson. Since I already had so much experience at the station, this class was a breeze and I absolutely loved it. Dave Thompson was a long-time Cincinnati Voice God, and was a wonderful professor. Two of my classmates were Adam Campbell, who was the production guy and a DJ at the station, and the other was Brant McKeehan, the general manager at the time. The three of us were already closely associated since we all worked at the station together.