THE FOLLOWING IS COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL.
"One Of A Kind" From the Electronic Edition of One-To-One --by Jay Trachman
"Come in, sit down," he commanded as I strolled past the transmitter room with
a cup of coffee in my hand.
"Oh, no," I thought--not another lecture about "the old songs are coming back,"
or how the syndicators are ruining radio...
The old engineer twinkled his patented twinkle and began, "Style, m'boy-- what
you need is style! That's what separates the great from the also- rans, the
Sit down and I'll tell you what radio is all about."
"The style of a parrot, son--no offense! Did Edison, Einstein, Benny, Burns
and Berle do everything the way those before them had done? Look at Al Radka!"
"You're pulling my leg," I laughed. "I was his replacement on the air, because
everyone said he was making the whole station sound like fifties radio!"
"A capital crime in your book," he responded, frowning. "With all his silly
noises, his singing commercials and cornball jokes and that dumb hat, Radka had
more style than any of you kids on the air today. Personally, I never much
cared for him either--but I listened, because he was the only one who didn't
than he should've, and why folks around here still remember his name--years
after he's had a daily show. Think about some of those younger generation
characters, too--Dick Clark, Gary Owens, and even that Stern fellow back
East--no matter what you think of their act, they've got style--and no two of
'em are alike."
"But those people are all geniuses, Mr. Heller; I don't think I'm in that
league--I'm just a guy trying to do my job. I can't reinvent the the
lightbulb, or even radio," I protested.
"Nonsense!" he proclaimed. "Some of 'em are geniuses; some of 'em ain't.
Radka's no genius, sure as Hell. It doesn't take a great mind to have
of those characters did mainly was to reinvent themselves...The rest just
"It wasn't their brains," he said, warming to the topic; "it was who they were.
One of a kind, every one. They didn't spend their time tryin' to please
everybody or learnin' how to be like everyone else; they just were. And what
each of 'em is, is bigger than me, bigger than you, sonny--bigger than life!
Each of 'em had, or has a unique way of seein' the world, and tellin' you and
me about it in such a way that makes us want to hear more."
"But if you don't think I have style, Mr. Heller, then how am I supposed to
He thought a moment, then spoke softly: "To those who understand, no
explanation is necessary--"
"Cut the crap, Gramps," I said. "I don't even understand what it is, so how am
"I ain't your teacher, son, and even if I was, I suspect it ain't something you
can take lessons for. Maybe you have to be born with it. Or maybe you just
the time to be human bein's. Those programming logs-- maybe they ought to say,
'8:32--Be a human bein': 30 seconds'! But you're an okay guy, and you listen;
one-liners you're doin' just because you think you're SUPPOSED to be funny, and
all the cliches about the time o' day and the weather I hear you usin' on every
my old ears, and all the little comments you make about what a great station
this is, that I'm so sick o' hearin' over and over again, and take the time to
know who you are?"
And with that, he set his ancient, stained coffee mug down, pulled his
of him and smiled gently. I was about to ask him who he thought had the most
of this "style" here at the station. Then, I saw him tap one of the meters and
again, and I thought, I already know... (Your comments are welcome.)