Unusual Hobby

My husband and I are both licensed ham radio operators. That is odd enough...but he also has this hobby that most people have never heard of. He does "airchecking". What's that? Technically, an aircheck is a recording of an on-air talent (radio personality) that they use to audition for jobs. But people actually collect these recordings and share them with other radio hobbyists. Some of these are professionally recorded, but most recordings (airchecks) of contemporary broadcasts are made by amateurs, like my husband.

He loves making random recordings of radio stations, particularly when we travel. (It IS fun listening to his old recordings from radio stations in Hawaii.) It's amazing how much radio varies from one region to another. He especially likes old time station ID jingles. He also loves to collect and record unusual events as they occur, live on the radio. A great example is the captured audio we have from Howard Stern's broadcast during the events of 9/11 (I've featured those in a past entry). John has other interesting tidbits of audio history in his collection like the announcement made when John Lennon was shot.

There is something compelling about hearing a broadcaster's unscripted, live and unedited reaction to a major news event; but there are other radio events that are much less dramatic but no less interesting (or amusing) to listen to. Like when a broadcaster knows he or she is on the brink of being fired. They sometimes go a little nuts on-air. Or when a radio station is about to change their format (like going from a pop station to all talk-radio). The radio personality on duty when the change-over happens often plays really bizarre musical selections or will pull some funny gag as a last hurrah before their show is radio history.

The other day, John just happened to catch and record one of those station format changes. WNEW suddenly flipped from "dance music" to "modern adult contemporary" with the old tag "Mix 102.7" changing to "Fresh 102.7". They've also applied for new call letters to replace WNEW with WWFS (but that's not official yet). John was amused to find the DJ playing Fresh by Kool and the Gang...over and over and over. John also happened to be the first one to submit his aircheck of the change over to MP3Airchecks.com (one of the most popular spots for sharing these recordings with other hobbyists).

So who picks up on this and talks about the change (as well as the odd airchecking hobby) and makes rather rude comments about the guy who recorded the change-over? Howard Stern. Of course, he had no idea he was talking about my husband, specifically. But someone else naturally airchecked Howard talking about aircheckers.

[Edit 1/5 11:52am: Link to Howard's comments changed. Go HERE instead. It won't play automatically, you'll have to click.]

John and I were both very amused. :-)


Anonymous said…
I tried to listen to the rude comments but, the link didn't work. :-( I'd love to hear it, I was listening to the fresh change. I remember when WLS changed formats in Chicago - what a sad day that was for me. This was when I was still fairly young. I'm sure they have gone through many other changes ... if they are still on the air!

Fascinating. I had no idea there was an airchecking community out there. I coulddn't get the link either, but love the story. Margo
Chris said…
Howard Stern referred to your husband? He must have felt so dirty that he ran off to get a shower, LOL.

You hams:)

Have a great weekend!
My Blog
Cheryl said…
I find radio stuff like this "airchecking" very interesting. Very cool.
Barbara said…
I thought it was very interesting that you guys are hams. I have just started studing for my tech liences. I have been interested in ham radio for years and hope that this is the year I finially follow through and get my liences. How long have you been a ham? What kind of radio do you have?
Have a great day.
uWe just saw a really fun movie about a ham radio operator who was a fireman, and he communicates with his dad from thirty years in the past...I think it had Dennis Quaid in it...

Popular Posts