I have to admit, I was excited to hear about the Killeen Independent School District’s launch of a new, student-run FM radio station this week.
FM 95.1, or MY 95 as it’s called, broadcasts from the KISD Career Center. With a transmitter near Ellison High School, the low-power station has a range of about 10 miles.
It’s a great opportunity for students to train for a career in the radio broadcast field.
Just hearing and reading about the new program made me think back to my days in radio, which took place in my early college years.
I had just started taking journalism classes at the University of Illinois when the opportunity came up to work on the college radio station.
I started out reading the news on weekends on the radio station that was piped into the campus dorms.
I had to get up before 6 a.m. and drive my little Volkswagen through the pre-dawn darkness and over snow-packed roads to get to the station for my 7 a.m. broadcast.
Despite the early hour, the work was fun, and I enjoyed rewriting the news copy that came over the wire and reading it on the air, along with sports and weather.
Then one weekend, the station manager asked me if I could fill in on the main FM station for a morning broadcast.
I couldn’t believe I was getting a shot at the big time — after only two months on the dorm station.
Just before we went on the air that weekend, I met Lynn, the newscast’s regular anchor. She was a bit less than welcoming. Nonetheless, I was determined to do a good job.
Things started out well, with Lynn and I taking turns reading the top stories of the day.
But then I messed up — and I have only my clumsy fingers to blame.
News copy was typed in all-capital letters. Maybe it was to mimic the teletype machine copy of the day, I don’t know. But that’s how I did it.
Anyway, I started reading a story about a Chicago official who had announced his candidacy for governor. All went well — until I got to the man’s biography.
If the news copy had been typed in lowercase words, I probably would have been fine, even with the word “city” misspelled.
But in all caps, the word read “XITY,” and I froze. After a brief pause, I read, “He has held several important positions in the X-I-T-Y” — pronouncing each letter individually, as if it was some kind of government agency.
I looked over at Lynn, who was giving me a look that registered somewhere between disblief and disgust.
But being the professional she was, Lynn started reading her next story as if nothing had happened.
That is, until I figured out my boo-boo, not realizing my mike was still open.
“Oh! City!” I murmured. “That’s the word!” I said.
This time, Lynn’s look was definitely a glare, and I wanted to crawl under the desk.
Needless to say, I went back to working at the dorm station the next week.
I also decided right then and there that I wanted to pursue a journalism career in newspapers — a medium where I could fix my mistakes before they got out to the public — well, most of the time, anyway.
Still, though, I miss those radio days. The excitement of a live broadcast can be tough to match.
It’s probably a pipe dream, but I would love the chance to do some weekend radio newscasts or voice-over work. I might even be good at it.
But I’d never quit my day job. Newspapers have been great to me, especially in this community.
In fact, they’ve made me a somewhat recognizable personality in the XITY.
And that’s usually a good thing.
Dave Miller is deputy managing editor of the Killeen Daily Herald. Contact him at email@example.com or 254-501-7543.