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The Cold Filtered Ramblings of Gene Mueller

Remember those for whom this is no holiday...

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For way too many folks, Christmas is just another day on the job.

Police officers.  Firefighters.  Nurses.  They always have to be on the job, as well as folks who make sure the water keeps running and the juice still flows from your outlets.

Time was when stores and restaurants were closed on the big day, but more and more retailers/fast food chains are caving.

Radio stations stay on, too, and they have to have live bodies around to keep the fire lit, even if the broadcast day is nothing more than pre-recorded music.

I was that guy back in the 70's when I was first cutting my teeth in the business as a part-timer at WHBL in Sheboygan.  I'd missed plenty of parties, games, and other high school social activities when I was a grocery store stock boy but figured that once I'd made the hop to "show biz", those days on the outside would be over.  

They were, for the most part, but then came the holidays.   I'd never missed a Thanksgiving or Christmas when I was stocking shelves or helping Mrs. Schneider to her car with her groceries.   Being on the bottom of the HBL on-air totem pole offered me a harsh radio lesson: the new/young/barely employed person gets the worst possible hours.

I vividly remember Christmas Eve, 1975.   I was home for college, but duty-bound to the station which was now my source of part-time vacation cash.   I had to report for duty at six p.m. and keep the station going until sign off at one a.m.   While family gathered Yuletide traditions, I was threading tape on reel-to-reel machines, preparing the endless stream of pre-recorded holiday shows the station was airing.  It was mind-numbing, boring, and lonely.   The station Christmas party had happened earlier in the day, and the full-timers were poliite enough to leave their leftovers behind.  Room-temperature cheese and warm, greasy summer sausage got me through the night.

I've never looked at Christmas or other holidays the same way since.   Sure, I'd work other such occasions as the years went by but seniority has its benefits and it's been years since I've last had to do so.    Yet, every time the occasion rolls around, I think of those who have to punch in, be they at hospitals, utilities, the fire house, the police station...or the local radio station.   Those who play the tapes--or are they CD's now?--also serve.



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