By Eric Sparling
They have a shower.
We don’t have a shower at the newspaper. But Tantramar FM Community Radio has a shower in their bathroom, not to mention free bottled water in a bar fridge. I clearly went into the wrong sector of the news business.
I was the guest of Sam Hunt. He’s the on-air guy from 2 p.m. to 6. It’s a bit of Rush Limbaugh, a bit of Howard Stern, absolutely no Shelagh Rogers. He spins the tracks, tells the weather and delivers reviews of single malt whiskies. When he’s not hosting in-studio bikini contests, he’s paying someone to eat 12 pounds of cheese.
Tawdry Tickles, his usual sidekick – that dude was kicked out of the clown union a decade ago – had the day off, so I subbed in.
How Much is That Doggy in the Window was playing as I donned headphones and parked myself in a chair behind a mic.
He read the introduction I’d written for him. It mentioned the Pulitzar sitting on my desk, my humanitarian work (is there an orphan in Central America I haven’t rescued?) and the years I may or may not have spent as an elite sniper for a shadow organization I can’t legally identify.
“Welcome, Eric. It’s great to have you on the show!” he said.
“Yes, it is great for you,” I said. “What’s with the music? This song sucks.”
The first segment didn’t go so great. I blame Hunt. But we regrouped. When the next song ended, I hit him with incisive interview questions worthy of the White House press corps.
“Who has the worst breath you’ve ever smelled?” I asked.
OK, so the second segment didn’t go so well, either. We had a chance to chat about the job while songs played.
“It’s a lot of fun…,” said Hunt, “…usually.”
The DJ completed an 18-month radio program at the now-defunct Atlantic Media Institute in Halifax.
“Yeah, they went out of business cuz you cranked the volume to 11 one too many times, am I right?!
He shook his head: “There were money problems.”
Another song was wrapping up: Happy Birthday. How does Happy Birthday get on a play list?
Hunt had a public service announcement for me to read. Some silly claptrap about colorectal cancer. Yeah, like that’s a disease.
“I’ve got the bum sickness,” I joked, while we waited.
“Your mic’s on,” Hunt whispered.
Finally finished. He told me he got into radio because it sounded like the on-air personalities were having fun. But they aren’t. You can’t say anything you’d say in your real life. The phone was already ringing at reception with complaints about me mocking people with colon tumours. And every conversation I tried to have with Hunt fell flat. Honestly, being on the radio is as much fun as having the back of your arm pinched.
I needed to use the washroom before I headed out. That’s when I found the shower.
I was on company time. I could enjoy a relaxing shower for 20 minutes or I could head back to the office and start writing. I chose door number one.
I’ve been paid to have a shower on two occasions. The second time, at Tantramar Radio, was lovely, even with the communal soap. But I don’t talk about the first time. It was a dark period in my life.
Eric Sparling is At Work with area employers every week. Some of what is written here is true. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org