Saturday, July 14, 2007

To "jock" or not to "jock"?

Hello... I'm jackrabit1... I'm 32 (at the end of the month)... single... and I'm a disc jockey.

Or am I?

Officially, I am considered an "on-air announcer," at least that's what I put down on my 1040 this year. But there are other terms... "on-air personality", "disc jockey", "boss jock", and probably a few I haven't heard.

"Disc jockey" is a bit outdated... unless you're work at a college station or a station that still believes in turntables and reel-to-reels! Most radio stations now have their libraries on computer, usually arranged with some type of scheduling software and played over the computer with a program like Simian or Smartcaster. Some stations even go off satellite 24-7, using programming from such providers like Westwood One, Jones Radio Network, or ABC, just to name a few. Happily, we use live announcers, with some satellite programming at night or sports.

"Personality" is a bit of a misnomer... at least in my case! When I hear "personality" I think of Howard Stern, Opie and Anthony, or any of those adult-oriented folks that seem to make their livings off sex and fart jokes. Sex and fart-jokes are fine in their place, hell, I'll tell them; off-air! Another thing about "personalities"... they tend to wear out their welcome pretty darn fast. As the butler said in the 1995 movie "King Ralph", "Today's breath of fresh air can quickly become tomorrow's foul wind". See Cory, I used quotes and everything!

"Announcer" is a bit dry... but it's accurate.

I guess, though, that I've been calling other announcers "jocks". And I used to think "jocks" was a bit of a demeaning, like I was some sort of trained monkey just playing songs. But as I've started to become a student of the history of broadcasting, listening to old clips and reading about such disc jockeys as "Wolfman Jack", "Cousin Brucie", Rick Dees, Shadoe Stevens, Charlie Tuna, Ralph Emery, and "Murray the K", I realize "jock" is not a bad term... it has a history of fantastic announcers, a heritage of some of the most influential voices and their music. I guess you can say, I'm taking back the term... as a term of affection, of course!

But I'll still use "on-air announcer" on my 1040 next year!

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