I Am NOT Touching Your Tape Recorder!!

•  I snapped. Had a near-meltdown at the Grammy Awards

*  Outtakes: How radio reporters make sausage, revealed

•  YANC explained

I don’t often lose my temper and yell. I’ll get mad, alright. But sarcasm and passive-aggressive remarks under my breath are my more likely relief valves. Only one girlfriend and my ex-wife figured out how to put me over the top into full-blown roaring. (And the wife, possessed of Latin blood and temperament, afterward confessed that she did it just to make sure I was actually capable of blowing up, what with my WASP reserve.)

But this night at the 1992 Grammy Awards in Radio City Music Hall, someone working in the crowded quarters of the general press area pushed the right button and I nearly lost it. Luckily, Dave Alpert captured it on tape.

DRA, a.k.a. Zoomer

If I was a spy, Dave Alpert would’ve been my controller. I would’ve been his Joe. Wherever I went as ABC Radio’s Reporter on the Road, Dave was the guy back at the bureau at 125 West End Avenue, intaking my raw tape, voicers and ROSRs; updating me on breaking developments in a story that might have been too big for one correspondent to fully observe; and being the ground control in Houston to my capsule out in space when “we have a problem.”

So, he was rolling tape that night, either across town at the bureau or there beside me at Radio City (neither of us is sure which). I was getting frazzled, trying to report on who had won what Grammys up to that point, plotting and recording different endings in case the last, biggest Grammys of the evening changed what was shaping up like someone’s big night into someone else’s big night. I had to deal with my own verbal stumbles, an obtrusive PA announcement that Alan Jackson was entering the press room and . . . someone, a reporter or producer, at the cramped tables who kept accusing me of touching their tape recorder!

Grammy outtakes ’92 NSFW

You might have heard me “billboard” one take as being for the YANC. That stood for Young Adult Newscall. That was an overnight feed to radio affiliates of ABC’s Young Adult networks, containing voicers like mine, soundbites from Grammy winners, snippets of performances, etc.

Young Adult means something different in the publishing world, where it’s books written for 12- to 18-year-olds. At radio networks, young adult meant the 18 to 34 demographic.

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Book publishing, it occurs to me today, has a term that kind of fits what I was doing – recording an alternate take in case R.E.M. won big. It’s children’s stories known as Choose Your Own Ending books.

Somebody was lucky I didn’t choose to haul off and belt them with my mic for interrupting my voicers!


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