Thursday, March 03, 2005

The annual WFMU pre-marathon staff meeting

The WFMU pre-marathon staff meeting last night took well under two hours including non-marathon agenda, probably a record for brevity. With only few changes to the paperwork trail & just a handful of newbies - who meet informally afterward with manager Ken Freedman - we all knew what it was about. The really interesting business for DJs is communing with music director Brian Turner's printouts of "leftover" prizes, making adjustments to the lists of stuff each DJ gives away. But most importantly, the pre-marathon meeting is a traditional, upbeat gathering of the faithful for the purpose of solidarity.

These pre-marathon meetings used to be painfully drawn out, as we grappled with redesigned pledge cards, revised pledge amount & premium categories, & the growing importance of the internet, plus the extra time needed to field pointless questions. Some years featured a jittery air of anxiety as WFMU faced an expensive crisis, or two, with our equipment or in defense of our air signal. Those meetings took on an "I'm OK, you're OK, we're OK, OK?" atmosphere of mutual reassurances. A significant percentage of the staff has been around since the East Orange/Upsala College era, we recall our brushes with extinction, & believe me we are still grateful for marathon years that have no over-riding emergency. We're all a bit permanently paranoid about our various modes of transmission during fund-raising time as a result of past bad experiences, which is one reason we continue to burn lucky candles as we did twenty years ago when we were broadcasting out of a mildewy basement & the studio looked like it had been hot-wired by Mister Magoo. Other marathon oddities have included mysterious flu epidemics & the bad timing of domestic soap operas (I'm not the only staffer who's gone through relationship hell at marathon time with a non-staff lover who couldn't postpone the Ending or the Ultimatum for two weeks).

There was a "first" last night, in my long memory: manager Ken was rendered speechless. The details of why turned out not to be very important, but just witnessing it was an unexpected treat.

I have a minor role in the marathon - thankfully, because I do not pitch well on my own behalf. This year I'm for Stan from 2am to 6am Tuesday March 7 (Monday overnight). Stan's one of the greats of late night free form radio (see, it's easy praising someone I like). Our struggle to find a common wavelength at the beginning is always amusing. I'll definitely be "in the house" loitering around the phone room with Bryce before Stan; for Glen & X-Ray Sunday the 13th; for Fabio Thursday the 17th, & whenever else I get there. I'm not performing with Hoof N Mouth this year (procrastinated choosing a song) but I could do back-up singing if I show up for the Sunday Night finale.

Wow, I'm actually awake during the end of your show. I listen to WFMU during my brief 4-minute drive to the Rahway YMCA at 5:45 am, so I will make a note to pledge.
Thanks for the fmu insiders report on the pre-marathon meeting...good stuff.

Good blog in general too...lots of variety (just like fmu :-)
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