Reineri on his own

by AK - July 28, 2013

Monday Afternoon Bedtime Story: Reineri on his own.

I’ve never told this story, and I’m not proud of it at all. Many board-ops lost their jobs over things like this, but thankfully, and deviously i covered my tracks enough, or so I think, so that I didn’t get fired on the spot.

Mike Reineri’s show was different than all the rest in many ways, but most noticeable within the building because his was the only show where the host didn’t do his part in the talk studio; he did it from the control room.

Since “Uncle Mikey” had to throw it to the traffic report every 3 minutes, and a weather report every 4 minutes and news headlines or news update every 15, and commercials every 7, it was just easier to have uncle Mikey do all that stuff than have a board op have to figure out when he had to do the “Pattern Trance” and all that Ooga Booga.

His producer, Roger, sat in the talk studio writing out all the cards and slips of paper Mike had to read, loaded up stacks of commercial carts for Mike to play, ready the telepoll (record a voice message on an answering machine then edit all the responses together with music bed under them) etc etc.

Roger was set to go on vacation for a week, and for some reason, he and whomever made the decision decided to give me my first big shot at producing a live weekday show. Sure, I’d worked the weekend shows like The Garden Guy and Meg Green… but this was a PRIME TIME SHOW that had to be produced, not just board-op. Roger looked like a thinner version of Rip Taylor, white hair and mustache, and always wore a panama hat and jogging shorts and boat shoes. He was a pilot, and he greeted everyone with “Mornin’ Handsome!” and labeled everything he owned with “No Touch!” which actually had the opposite affect in most cases.

First day went good. I arrived at 4am and got everything all set up. I was really nervous, and tried my best to make sure the telepoll and other stuff was suitable for the morning show of Uncle Mikey’s tempo. A 23 yr old flannel wearing, multiple pierced ear, chain smoker isn’t exactly their primary demo if ya know what I mean. But I got through it. And Mikey was complimentary. And Neil ragged on me calling me “Roger Junior” and stuff.

That night, I went to hang with my room mate and party. I call him my room mate because I lived with him in college, but at the time I lived at his house , sleeping on a blowup mattress on the floor, living out of boxes. at $4.25 an hour for 29 hours a week, you can’t exactly live on your own. So this was a BIG shot for me to establish myself as the next full-timer. But I digress…

I was still so nervous and excited that I couldn’t sleep, and when I finally fell asleep at like 2 am… yup. you guessed it. I slept through not one, but TWO alarm clocks. When I woke up at 7:15, a full hour and fifteen minutes AFTER the show started, I frickin PANICKED like never before. Not just because I was REALLY late. Not just because this was my big chance. But because the guy who worked the overnight shift the night before, the guy who normally would have covered my shift until I got there… was blind. That’s right. Blind. with his seeing-eye-dog with him. Overnight board-ops play spots between syndicated Larry King, and with the board and the commercials all labeled in braille, he was a damn fine board operator. God bless you, Mike Bohan… We miss you and your dog Iris (yeah.. he named the dog after a part of the eye. He was a great guy). But as a live show producer he was, for lack of a better word, he was sincerely handicapped.

There weren’t even cellphones then, just beepers. And mine had gone off like 27 times already. I hopped in my car and drove a block to a gas station and called the hotline and Mike answered. I’d told him I was on my way, but had gotten a flat on the highway and was stuck with no spare and had to wait for a tow truck to fill my tire with air and thats why I was so late.. and please let everyone know i’d be there soon.

I ran to the back of the car, wiped my hands on the rims of my car, and wiped grease and dust on my hands, arms, pants, face. I pulled out my spare, deflated it as best I could, and threw it and the jack in my back seat and drove to the station. I arrived around 7:45, and appropriately, I looked like hell.

Nobody said a whole lot about it to me.. a bunch of “man that sucks” but that was about it. It never got mentioned again, and the rest of the show went pretty much as planned, me thanking everyone who’d helped out with helping Mike get his show on the air, like the news folks and Mike Bohan, and Uncle Mikey who had to leave his comfort zone and do the show differently than he probably had to in more than a decade.

And from that point on, if I had to work a morning shift, I’d set 3 alarms and left the number of wherever I was sleeping with whomever was working the night shift with explicit instructions to call me over and over if they didn’t hear from me by 4:45am.

Here’s what I probably looked like that morning. (photo missing)

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