the first record i ever owned i won by being the 7th caller into Big R Radio, Freeze Frame by J. Geils Band. this was 1980. the record cover had a punch at the top and was clearly an extra promo album, but the Dj threw in a fluorescent T-shirt as a consolation prize. my favourite track was ‘Freeze Frame’.
in the 80s, my jaw was broken to improve my underbite, and the recovery was long and painful. think muscle cramps. i was wired shut for 12 weeks. a teenager, i was full of angst but when I spoke my voice was muffled by a snarl of wires. one night i couldn’t sleep and called into Big R Radio, requesting ‘Cocaine’ by Eric Clapton.
–are you drunk? asked the DJ.
–no, my jaw is wired shut.
–you’re drunk, he said. his voice as flat as a record. i’m not playing that song. it’s a terrible song and it encourages people like you to do drugs. he hung up on me.
there was a recession in the early 80s and i couldn’t find a job one winter. instead, i listened to Big R Radio. in the early spring, they held a “Guess the Location” contest where the DJs gave out obscure clues each day. the jackpot increased with each passing day, substantial. i scoured the National Geographic Atlas for help. often, i was close. the toughest clues were for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia ,but eventually i solved it with obscure information from a National Geographic magazine article. when I dialled in the phone lines were jammed.
i just couldn’t connect.