Tales of the Tape - November 1990

by Dennis Daniel

Dennis-Daniel nov90It's about eleven p.m. as I'm writing this. I've just driven home in one of the worst rainstorms in the history of Long Island, New York! I cannot even begin to describe to you what it was like driving home in that torrential downpour. It was coming down so thick and so hard, I could hardly see a foot in front of me! Was I scared? No. It was the thrill of a lifetime! (One of the many life affirming techniques I've learned from therapy is the act of turning negative experiences into positive ones. You'd be amazed to find out how great it works!)

Speaking of turning negatives into positives....

When I moved to WDRE, one of my many requests was to have an 8-track reel-to-reel and board put in. (Up to that time, they had only used a two track.) I had used a 4-track at my last job, but had only recently gotten used to it. (I had been using a 2-track over there for eight years!) Of course, after you go from a 2-track to a 4-track, you never look back again. From that point on, it was multi-tracks or nothing! I was able to get so much done in so little time, it sounded better, and I had more control. (I know there are many Production Directors out there right now reading this and thinking, "This guy is making a big deal about multi-track recording? Hey, welcome to the nineties, pal! I've been using a 16-track at this station since day one! You poor sap, you." All I can say to that is, I didn't know any better! I was so used to working with a 2-track -- and I rarely visited many other stations -- that I never really thought there was any other option, at least not at radio stations. I certainly knew about multi-track recording. I just never realized that radio stations employed it. I guess I was a total pinhead!)

So where was I...oh yea.

WDRE bought me a Tascam M-520 board and an Otari MX-5050 8-track reel-to-reel. Now, I was told by my engineer, John, that this Tascam board is no radio station board. This mother is used in recording studios! When I saw it, I felt faint. "How in the hell do you work this thing?" John would take me in his supply room where the board was set up, and he'd run through it with me. After the first quick lesson, my original thoughts hadn't changed: "How the hell do you run this thing?!"

I felt doomed. There goes my whole rep. The owner, GM and PD think they hired a Clio winning commercial writing dynamo (which is true) who knows all about multi-track recording (which is partially true) and can handle any kind of board (which is anyone's guess).

Even though we had the board and 8-track recorder ready to be installed, the old 2-track was still in the main production studio and had to be moved. This was no easy job. As a matter of fact, my engineer was dreading it! He felt it was going to take him a month to do the whole deal. Meanwhile, I was schlepping around with their 2-track facility, hating every minute of it! (Often, when I called anyone in to hear my work, I would say, "You think this sounds good now? This is crap! Wait till I get that 8-track! I'll be able to walk on water with that baby!")

Finally, the time came for John to start work on the big move. I had worked with the 2-track for my first three months at WDRE, and I was dying to get back to a multi-track world (even if I wasn't sure how to work that complicated looking Tascam board)!

On the very day John was scheduled to begin the move, guess what happens?

He breaks his leg!

"Dennis, I need to talk to you for a minute," says my PD Denis McNamara.

"Make it fast Den, I wanna be there when John starts to unplug the first wire!"

"John broke his leg. We may have to delay the move another three months."

Silence.

Tune in next month for the breathtaking conclusion of this thrilling saga!

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