Suddenly On Air by Edward Raso

We at Causeway Lit are happy to present the very first winner of our fiction contest. We’re so very excited to add Ed Raso’s work to our collection and look forward to many more contests and great writers to come! Enjoy!

by EDWARD RASO

When I was seventeen and ready for a well-deserved summer break between high school and college, the economic realities of my nascent adult life reared up and squashed those bohemian delusions. Instead, I found myself searching for work in order to maintain some semblance of a social life and to purchase the exorbitantly priced textbooks I would need come September. My parents were of modest means and my tuition alone was a struggle for them. Books and living expenses would be up to me.

It was the early nineties, when majoring in communications was still a somewhat viable thing to do. And although it wasn’t exactly what a parent wanted to hear, pursuing a career in the entertainment industry was not yet the life-choice equivalent of telling your sobbing mom and red-faced dad that you were off to sell flowers for the Unification Church.

In any case, I needed a job. Because music was my passion but my utter lack of talent for any instrument that I laid my fumbling hands on was painfully apparent, I set my sights on radio. My first call was to WPEC 88.9 FM (Newstalk All Day/Jazz All Night!), a station in Stranten, Ohio, my little fart of a hometown.

Yet, calling Stranten a “town” isn’t quite accurate. Stranten was, and is to this day, simply a town-sized area of suburban developments whose planned neighborhoods are at odds with their rural surroundings. There is no Main Street; there is no town square. Hard angles of any sort are difficult to find on the recursive, McMansioned roads that all seem to end in ouroboros-like cul-de-sacs.

I cold-called WPEC one Tuesday morning and, to my surprise, was put immediately through to Charlie Wolfe, the general manager. He sounded annoyed right off the bat and I’m pretty sure he picked up the call by mistake. I told him I was looking for work and he told me to send the station a résumé, which the tone of his voice indicated was shorthandtelephone-295075_1280 for I’d like to end this phone call immediately.

Before he could get off the line, I added with some desperation: “Mr. Wolfe, I’m actually from right here in town. I grew up listening to Jazz Thru the Night. Teddy Roe is one of the reasons I’m going to school for communications. I’ll take whatever work you might have available. You wouldn’t believe how expensive the books are. Even the used ones.”

The line went quiet for a moment and I thought that he had hung up. But then he said, “Look, kid, I can’t promise you anything. But since you live so close, why don’t you swing by and introduce yourself tomorrow? At the very least I could give you a tour.”

“That would be great!”

“Eleven-thirty Ok?”

The following day Wolfe greeted me himself, not because he was convivial or eager to make my acquaintance, but because WPEC was perennially understaffed and the receptionist was out on an errand. He shook my hand with a weak grip that was the antithesis of every type-A, expensive-suit-and-crisp-aftershave, capillary-crushing handshake you’d expect from a middle-aged man in a position of authority. It was a diffident grip that seemed to say: Run away! And don’t look back, or you, too, may wake up at the age of forty-five: balding, pudgy, and stuck in a low-paying job in an industry whose pyrite sparkle has long since faded, working for a station at the end of the dial and in the middle of nowhere.

I discreetly wiped the remnants of his sweaty handshake onto the leg of my pants.

“So, how about that tour?” he asked.

Without even pausing for me to reply, he began. I had expected more of an industrial/technological motif, but PEC’s decor was eclectic and slapdash, with lots of carpet and wood. It was quaint in a disappointing but not entirely unpleasant way. The building itself was one story and made of brick, and from the outside could easily have been mistaken for a machine shop, had it not been for the mural along the south wall, depicting the station’s frequency and call letters in cartoonish block characters being struck by a Shazam-like bolt of lightning.

After the tour we went into Wolfe’s office to talk. We sat facing one another across his cluttered desk.

“You must really need a job,” he said to me, moving aside a stack of papers to improve sight lines. “Most kids your age are content to spend their summers sleeping in and jerking off.”

The office walls were covered with black-and-white photographs of famous jazz musicians. I recognized them all. Most I had first heard on WPEC, usually as I fell asleep with my headphones. None of the photos were personalized, but I could tell by Wolfe’s expression that he was very proud of them indeed. I went over to the far wall to admire a candid of Miles Davis. It was a young Miles, sitting on a stool with his trumpet, contemplating a microphone that resembled a giant metal Tylenol capsule.

“That wasn’t just bullshit on the phone yesterday, was it?” he asked me. “You really are a jazz head.”

“Definitely.”

As I came back to my seat, Wolfe sky-hooked a wad of paper to the left corner of the room, towards a wastepaper basket whose contents had exceeded capacity and were creeping up the corner-line like ivy. The paper bounced off the side and landed on the floor next to several others. We sat for a few moments, saying nothing, while Wolfe tapped on his desk with a pen and made clicking noises with his mouth. He leaned back in his chair and sighed heavily.

“I’m sorry, but I’m afraid we just don’t have any work for you.”

I had expected as much. But at least I had made a contact for the future. I rose and extended my hand. “Thanks for your time and for showing me around.”

Wolfe looked at my hand as if I were holding a turd. “That’s it?? You’re not even going to ask me to reconsider? How do you expect to break into this business if you’re just going to give up so easily?”

“But you said—”

“Yeah, I know what I said. Do you have any idea what people will do to get a foot in that door? You’ve got to assert yourself, kid. Stick that big ol’ Converse high-top right in there!”

“What?”

“Don’t take no for an answer, is what I’m trying to tell you. Why don’t you try asking if I’ll change my mind?”

This was getting a little weird, but I went along with it.

“Ok. Uh . . . Mr. Wolfe, do you think you might reconsider?”

“You see? Now was that so difficult?”

I shook my head and smiled hopefully.

“I’m afraid I’m still going to say no.”

I tried to maintain a professional composure and not let my frustration show, but my face must have given me away.

“Relax.” Wolfe reached over and slapped me on the shoulder. “I was only joking. I think we can work something out here. You can probably tell that our operating budget is very tight. But I’m going to take pity on you since you seem like a nice kid. And frankly, I pity anyone who wants to work in radio. Here’s the deal: Arne, our maintenance guy, was just in a motorcycle accident and needs to recover for a couple of months. So your timing is pretty good. Arne’s, not so much. He made an ill-advised left hand turn into what he thought was a sufficient break in busy traffic. He’s lucky they didn’t have to scrape him off the road.”

“I’m sorry to hear about that,” I said.

“The guy’s in his sixties and he’s still riding around on a goddamned motorcycle. Who does he have to impress?”

“Women?”

“Not likely. Arne’s gay. Hmmm . . . come to think of it, maybe that explains some of his motorcycle attire.”

I shrugged.

“Where was I?” Wolfe asked.

“Arne’s recovering.”

“Right. So we originally planned on trying to get by without hiring a temp, but I don’t think that’s going to work out.” Wolfe glanced at his wrist as if he were wearing a watch. “Today’s Friday. Let’s say you take the weekend to acclimate yourself to the overnight hours and begin on Monday.”

“Maintenance? I really appreciate the opportunity, Mr. Wolfe, but I didn’t expect to be offered a maintenance job.”

“I thought you were willing to do whatever work we had.”

“I am! It’s just—”

“Well, I’m not going to twist your arm. If you feel you’re above the work . . .”

“No, of course not,” I said.

“So what is it, the hours? It’s much too busy around here during the day. We can’t change the hours.

“No, it’s not that, either. I’m up late all the time. And like I said, Jazz Thru the Night is my favorite. You should hear my Teddy Roe impersonation.”

“I’m sure it’s fantastic,” Wolfe said. “So then what’s the problem?”

“I just don’t have any maintenance experience. I mean, I’ve tinkered with friends’ guitars and amps at home from time to time. I’ve replaced some fuses, repaired some cables—that kind of thing—but I don’t think I can maintain the equipment of an entire radio station.”

Wolfe looked like he was waiting for the world’s biggest punchline. When he realized I was serious, he laughed for what felt like a full minute before he composed himself. “I think you’ve got the wrong idea about the job,” he said, wiping his eyes. “It’s not technical maintenance. Arne’s position here is a bit more . . . janitorial. You’d be cleaning the bathrooms and offices and doing a bunch of other shit.”

“Oh. Ok.” I felt stupid.

“The equipment maintenance and repairs are outsourced to a freelance guy who comes in once or twice a week and for emergencies.”

“I can do that. What time should I be here Monday?”

“Your hours are nine to five. I’m not here when you get in but Andrew will get you started. He’s the night manager-slash-receptionist but his background’s in audio engineering. You can learn a lot from Drew. Anyway, congratulations. You’ll get paid on Thursdays.”

As I turned to leave his office, Wolfe said to me, “Hey, wait a minute. Let’s hear that impression.”

“What?”

“The Teddy Roe impression. If it’s as good as you say, I want to hear it.”

It wasn’t my best performance. I was nervous and probably overdid it somewhat, but when I was done Wolfe looked astonished.

“Well fuck me sideways! If I had closed my eyes I wouldn’t have known the difference between you and Teddy. Alright, kid. Come back Monday and don’t wear anything that can’t get filthy. Congratulations and welcome to radio.”

***

WPEC put out only five hundred and fifty watts. That the station had a laughably small radius of reception goes almost without saying. If you happened to be passing through Stranten during the day, perhaps on your way to Toledo or Dayton, and your car radio was tuned to 88.9 FM, you might have time to catch one or two news stories or local commercials before the rural and semi-professional-sounding voices were overtaken by more powerful stations inhabiting that frequency range. If you were driving through at night, however, those few minutes would likely be filled with some of the best jazz to ever grace the airwaves. And if you were lucky, you’d also get to hear the smoldering voice of our local legend, the reclusive and gifted DJ Teddy Roe.

Roe had fascinated me ever since I was a child. His delivery was the polar opposite of your typical DJ, whose loud and obnoxious voice my mind immediately banishes to  a place reserved for such annoyances: billboards, car alarms, babies’ cries—jejune twittering of all sorts, to be ignored and bulwarked from my consciousness’ finite and precious bandwidth. Roe’s voice, on the other hand . . . how to describe it? It was soft and narcotic. It drew you in and took hold of you personally, never pressing, a gentle question to take or leave as you would.

At 10 PM, after a block of commercials, there’d come the sounds of horns and piano, the twack of bass and the boom and sizzle of drums. And then, as true to the music as any of the instruments taking their bars to shine in solo, Roe’s hypnotic voice would begin and offer up to the night the words that sounded to me like Bebop itself: And now, ladies and gentlemen, owls and friends, it’s time to relax and take in the sounds of jazz. Sit back and feel the flow. I’m your humble host, DJ Teddy Roe. At which point the music would flourish but never quite fill the void left by the cessation of his voice, and it was just him and me and the music and the great big night.

***

My first official task in radio was emptying trash. I started in Wolfe’s office, where his had climbed even further up the wall and was strewn around the floor in disgraceful amounts. Then I got the lounge, the bathroom, the kitchenette, and the control room. I wondered how such a small operation could produce so much waste. I mopped and swept and dusted. I cleaned the men’s and the women’s bathrooms, I unpacked boxes and broke them down for recycling, I changed the water cooler bottle and cleaned the drip tray that seemed to have  developed its own micro-ecosystem. I was so busy, in fact, that on the first night I never even saw Teddy Roe arrive. Nor did I see him enter the studio. But at ten o’clock, his voice was ubiquitous, simulcast on all the speakers throughout the station.

It was on my second night that I met Roe, and of all places, in the men’s room. I had gone in to clean it during a long block of Coltrane and he was just coming out of the stall. He went over to one of the mirrors and began practicing a commercial read. I had never seen a picture of Roe and it turned out that the owner of that big voice was actually a small-framed man just south of elderly. He acknowledged my gawking presence with a quick nod and went about the business of washing his hands. I had been thinking practically nonstop since I got the job about how I would introduce myself. But now as I stood there next to the man, close enough to catch the unmistakeable whiff of Choward’s Scented Gum, all the cool, knowledgeable things I had scripted seemed ridiculous to say aloud. Yet my mouth didn’t care. Nor did it concern itself with the social taboos of small talk with strangers in bathrooms. No, my stupid mouth decided to seize the moment and, with horror, I heard myself saying: “Hi, I’m the janitor! So nice to meet you.”

Roe took a moment to consider the wincing idiot in the mirror, then turned, offered his freshly dried hand, and graciously replied, “Hey. Nice to meet you. You’re new, right?”

***

For the next few days I kept away from Roe out of fear of saying something stupid again. But we soon began talking jazz here and there. He seemed impressed with my knowledge of the music and treated me like a peer. Our conversations grew longer and more substantial and what I can only describe as a friendship began.

When I told him that WPEC wasn’t simply a summer job for me and that I was in fact going to major in communications, that I eventually wanted to become a DJ, he invited me to sit in the studio and watch him work whenever I wanted. I was ecstatic; this was more than I could have hoped for. I became quite efficient at my job and obsessed with finishing my tasks as soon as possible so that I could watch and learn.

Untypical of other great talents, Roe was a good teacher. He sought to impart knowledge and made a point to explain virtually everything he did, from the simplest parts of the job to his ideas and philosophy regarding its function as a craft—not an art, he said. Art was a term used too liberally these days. Music was the art, and his job was to help facilitate its reception. He compared himself to a curator: knowledgeable and professional and never as important as the work he was presenting. He loathed the modern shock jocks whom he saw as vulgar, narcissistic, vaudeville comedians devoid of musical knowledge.

“No curator would ever stand in front of the Mona Lisa and tell poop jokes,” he said.

Roe also taught me about the equipment he used for the broadcast. There was enough room in Jazz Thru the Night’s budget to hire an audio engineer, but he had asked them not to. He liked having complete control of the console, of his microphone, the duration and length of the music fade-ins and -outs. He even set the microphone pre-amp, equalizer, and compressor himself. Their faceplates looked to me like they were on loan from NASA.

When I asked Roe why he concerned himself with all the technical minutia, he acted as if it was the most ridiculous question he had ever heard. “Man, my voice is my instrument,” he said. “You think Hendrix let some ponytailed engineer mess with the tone on his amp? Or turn down his input volume to stop it from distorting and making all that lovely fuzz? Imagine some gangly bespectacled tech-head telling the maestro to quit pointing his pickups at the speaker because he was causing feedback. You’ve got to understand: the sound of my voice is my voice, and my voice has got to be right.”

The summer went by faster than an Art Verdi paradiddle. I got used to the vampiric hours and my desire to become a DJ grew. My only fear, one I hadn’t even fully admitted to myself yet, was my lack of personal style. I hadn’t been able to cultivate much of a delivery of my own. I could easily mimic my favorite DJs, especially Roe, but my own voice left me cold.

As late August brought my employment closer to its end, the thought of leaving WPEC—even with its paltry salary, even with college and the beginning of my adulthood waiting—saddened me.

One rainy evening, Roe and I were sitting in the lounge before the show, talking.

“You know, you’re a pretty all-right young dude.”

“Thanks, Teddy.”

“Maybe a little odd, though, I’ve got to say.” He took an exploratory sip of his coffee, screwed up his face, and dumped another spoonful of sugar into the cup.

“How so?”

“Most kids—excuse me—young adults your age are into pop and rock. Some listen to that party rap. What do they call it? Hip-hop. Others go for the violent stuff. Jazz is hardly ever on their radars.”

“What can I say? I love jazz.”

“Don’t get me wrong. It’s a wonderful thing to see someone your age enjoy it.”

“I really do. All those records you played while I was growing up just struck me as kind of . . .personal, you know? Authentic.”

“Ever go listen to it live?”

“No.” I said. “There’s not much opportunity in Stranten.”

“Well then I can see why you’d make that mistake.”

“What mistake?”

“I hate to break it to you, but recorded jazz is the least authentic of all music. That latest Madonna single is more authentic.”

“Wait, what? Of course jazz is authentic! Recorded or otherwise. It’s real. It’s all about the real. There are real musicians playing real songs. Difficult songs. Pop is just a bunch of sequencers and synths and formulaic, reductive crap.”

“And of all music,” Roe countered, “jazz is most about performance. Spontaneity and improvisation. What happens once was never meant to happen exactly the same way again. Except, though, when you record it, it does. That shit happens the exact same way every time. You’re capturing what was meant to be held only in memory, and in doing so, you are degrading it. A jazz recording is not a performance and a bunch of listeners is not an audience. With all due respect to my profession, of course.”

“And why would a recording of a pop song be any more authentic?” I asked.

“Aw, come on, man. Because pop’s venue has always been a sound-recording. To those cats, multi-tracking is an inherent part of the creative process. The effects-processing becomes almost part of the instrumentation. The engineer becomes a collaborator. When you tune to the middle of the FM dial you know you’re going to hear a song the way the artist envisioned when he wrote it. Shit, he probably wrote the thing in the studio. A sound-recording is pop’s actual canvas. Jazz records are like lithographs.”

“Wow, you’re kind of depressing me, Teddy.”

Roe looked at me with a grave expression. “Don’t worry. Pop music still sucks.” His face broke out in a smile and he laughed his deep, broadcast laugh.

“So what was the best show you ever saw then?” I asked. “Impart some tales of authenticity on the kid.”

“Ha. That’s easy. Thelonious Monk at the Village Vanguard in 1972.”

“You saw Monk.”

“Sure did. A buddy and I took the Greyhound up from Virginia. We considered seeing him somewhere closer, Baltimore maybe, but in the end we knew it just had to be the Vanguard. Greenwich Village in the early seventies? Woo-Wee! Here come two good-looking, strapping young lads ready for whatever New York had to show us. Didn’t even have the money for a hotel room. But we got lucky and hooked up with a couple of NYU students at the show who let us crash with them afterwards. Real cuties, too. We had us a time, let me tell you. One of the best damned weekends of my life. And Monk did not disappoint.”

musician-623362_960_720I couldn’t help but to visualize it: The Village Vanguard at night, its red carpets and curtains glowing mephistophically from the stage-lights in the otherwise darkened venue like the insides of your eyelids at a campfire. The cigarette smoke lapping at the ceiling. I imagine Monk’s quartet in mid-song: They’re performing something that really grooves, perhaps the lively “Hackensack,” saxophone and drums bickering loudly back and forth while the piano picks its spots, retorting with restrained grace. The bass like the steady voice of a gentle father soothing his petulant children.

Then the phone rang at Andrew’s desk, and Monk and his band disappeared back into jazz lore.

“Guess I’d better get ready for the show.” Roe gave me a fist bump and headed towards the studio.

“Teddy,” Andrew called out, “you’ve got a phone call. It’s the hospital.” He transferred the call to the lounge and Roe picked it up on the first ring.

“Hello? Yes, this is he. What? What happened? She did? When? Oh God. Ok. I’m on my way.”

Roe let the receiver drop back into the cradle. He mumbled something neither Andrew or I could make out. We asked him to repeat what we couldn’t understand.

“I’ve got to go,” he blurted, and put on his hat and raincoat and hurried out of the station. Andrew and I went to the door and called after him, but he seemed not to hear a word. He started up his car and the wheels kicked back a spray of gravel as he pulled away into the darkness and the wind-canted rainfall.

Inside, Andrew called up Wolfe at home and relayed the story in a panic. He nodded epileptically to Wolfe’s reply.

When he was done he handed me the phone. “Charlie needs to talk to you,” he said, and went into the control room.

Wolfe sounded more relaxed than I expected.

“How are you feeling tonight, kid?” he asked.

“I’m all right.”

“Good. Because I’m going to need your help with something.”

“Whatever I can do. I think Roe got called away to the hospital.”

“It’s probably his wife. She has some heart issues.”

“Geez. Do you think she’s going to be all right?”

“Your guess is as good as mine. Two years ago she had an emergency bypass. Then a few months back, Teddy rushed her to the ER because they thought she was having the big one.”

“What happened?”

“The Doctor had her lay on her left side until she farted and the pain went away. Flatulence and infarction, kid. Getting old is a fucking joy. So who knows? At least the hospital is right down the street.”

“What are we going to do about the show? Play a ‘Best Of’?”

“Have you ever heard a Jazz Thru the Night ‘Best Of’?”

“Now that you mention it, I haven’t.”

“Teddy stipulates this in every contract. He doesn’t want his show replayed, for whatever goddamn reason. So look. Here’s the plan. Drew just finished cutting together a bunch of Blitz and McCoy ‘Best Of’s’ that we were planning on playing during Teddy’s vacation in a few weeks.”

“Great, so you’re covered for tonight.”

“Well, yes and no. We haven’t recorded the V/O’s yet. I need you to do some on-air reads at the top of the show and after breaks.”

“Me?”

“Yeah. You’re listening to the ‘Best Of’ Blitz and McCoy. Some shit like that. Can you do it?”

“Are you kidding? Of course I can!”

“You’re a lifesaver. Drew should already be setting up.”

I hung up with Charlie and quickly called up my mom and dad and told them to record the show.

Then something occurred to me. And don’t think I wasn’t thrilled to be doing some reads on the air. I was. It would have been a nice bonus with which to end my summer gig. Call it greed, ambition, whatever, but as I looked into the control room at the waiting microphone, I began to think: What if I got some real experience? What if I did Jazz Thru the Night? Choosing the music would not be a problem for me. And after weeks of watching, I was fairly confident I could use the equipment well enough on my own voice. I even had some practice and had a good feel of the throw of the faders. Teddy had said he hated the idea of having his shows replayed, but that didn’t mean someone else couldn’t spin some jazz in his stead. I could be present in his absence.

Wolfe would never agree, of course, but there was no time to call him and square it anyway. I thought back to the job interview, when he told me that I needed to be more assertive. Hijacking a radio broadcast was definitely assertive, you couldn’t deny that. I got the feeling that he might secretly applaud what I was now seriously considering.

I opened the top drawer of the reception desk and pocketed the set of keys I knew were kept inside. I walked towards the studio. My stomach felt suddenly self-aware, as if it was plotting a revolt against my mutiny. I took a breath to calm myself. I took another and pulled the control room door open with a click.

Drew looked up from the console. “There he is! So are you down for this, or what?”

I nodded.

“Word. Plug these in next to mine.” He underhanded me a set of headphones. “Feel free to warm up, clear your throat, whatever. You’ll be able to hear yourself in the cans but you won’t actually be on-air until I press this.”radio-1475054_1920

He pointed to a mute button that was red-lit. Teddy had shown me this on the first day I sat with him. The mute button on that channel cut my microphone’s feed to broadcast, but I was still able to hear it in the headphones from a pre-fader send. The next two faders were for stereo channels. Written on the strip of tape above them: CD PLAYER #1 and CD PLAYER #2. The first was for commercials. It was loaded with a two-minute block that would air after the NPR News feed was done.

Drew watched the digital clock that displayed seconds. When the NPR update was done and the clock read 9:58:00 he rolled the commercials.

“Two minutes,” he said.

I plugged in the headphones and adjusted the volume.

“Drew, one side of these are out,” I lied.

“Shit. Let me run grab another pair.”

He left the control room and I locked the door behind him. Besides Wolfe’s and Teddy’s, I had the only other set of keys in my pocket.

I opened CD player #2 and removed the “Best Of” Blitz and McCoy. I quickly scanned the wall-mounted case that held a few hundred of Teddy’s “go-to” CDs and found the first couple of tracks I’d use to open the show. I placed the first disc into the tray.

In my headphones I heard a severely underproduced spot for aluminum siding. Drew was back and at the control room door, pulling on the handle and looking through the small window, his expression confused and frightened.

Now came an ad for the First National Bank. Drew knocked on the window, then held up his watch. He pointed down towards the lock as if this could all be some sort of mistake.

Next up was a PSA. Drew began to look very pissed. I had to turn my back or I wasn’t going to go through with it.

He started pounding on the door.

I spoke into the mic and adjusted the preamp and compressor. Hearing myself for the first time through the broadcast’s signal path was epiphanic. The voice I had grown so used to, filtered by my own skull, came back to me now through the microphone, mic preamp, equalizer, and compressor, sounding as if it had been on an anabolic steroid and five-day-a-week gym regiment. There was a sheen to its upper frequencies that made my every syllable and minor mouth noise into a glorious event. The unpleasant lower-mid frequencies were scooped out. The tone was perfect. I was present.

The block of commercials ended with a WPEC promo. Drew was still pounding on the door. The digital clock ticked to 10:00:00 and the air was all mine. I hit play on the CD player, cleared my throat one last time.

Brubeck’s “Take Five,” the song I had always imagined to be the first I would play on the air, began. Joe Morello’s drum intro was first. Its busy ride-cymbal never fails to conjure up in my mind heavy rainfall pattering onto a city sidewalk. Morello was joined four bars later by Brubeck’s relentless and iconic 5/4 piano riff. Eight bars after that, the alto sax made its entrance as Paul Desmond began the song’s melody. I decided I would begin when the sax left the blues scale a few bars later.

I always thought that when the time came, I would know just what to say. And how to say it. I assumed the words would simply come to me. That’s the danger of improv, which is the peril of jazz. When it’s your turn to take a solo you had better not only be ready to perform but also have something to say.

What did a seventeen-year-old have to say in place of the greatest jazz DJ he had ever heard?

The banging on the control room door stopped. I saw it slowly open from the corner of my eye but I refrained from looking back. Desmond betrayed his minor key for a major but I wasn’t ready; I’d need to give it a few more bars before I began. I closed my eyes tightly
and gripped my headphones. I un-muted my mic to air. “Take Five” was well into the alto sax solo and no spot felt right just yet to dip the music down and speak over. The weight of a steadying hand on my shoulder and the scent of clove on a wave of violet. He and I and the great big night. Desmond’s solo ended and microphone-516043_1920.jpg“Take Five” went back to its main shuffle, creating a perfect, natural lull.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, owls and friends, it’s time to relax and take in the sounds of jazz. Sit back and feel the flow. I’m your humble host . . .