Christmas, 1971

Previous:The Big M

1971 was growing dark and cold again. The new WBCN antenna on its mast at the Prudential Center was whipped by storms so violently that the aircraft-warning lights went out. I stood on the roof of the Pru, bracing myself against the wind in a sheltered corner, watching the mast sway back and forth. Guy wires would have to be installed to stabilize the tower. Don Prescott, a rigger buddy of Arnie Woo-Woo Ginsburg’s, came down the next day from Maine to do some previously scheduled work, and I told Arnie I would ask Don to change the bulbs in the tower.

After Don left I couldn’t remember whether I has asked him to change the bulbs. Oh my God, I thought, what will Woo-Woo do if he finds out the bulbs weren’t changed? What if a plane crashes into the Pru? I worked myself into an agony of fearful expectation. Night was coming. I went down to ground level to watch the tower to see if the lights would come on. Nothing happened. Now I was demented. I rushed up through elevators, concrete corridors and up steel staircases and hatchways back to the roof of the Pru and, with a spare, huge bulb lashed with hookup wire to my belt loops, prepared to climb the tower myself in the gathering darkness. Just as I put one foot in the rung at the bottom of the tower the flashing red beacons came on.

Two weeks later I stood on the Pru watching Don and his assistant do the guy wire work. It was a clear, cold mid-December morning, calm for once, and the work was soon done. I was feeling a little woozy, and was glad to get down into the warm transmitter room. As long as I was there, I took the clipboard with the logs, read the transmitter meters, and filled in the entries. Since I had been entertaining girlfriends at 122 Mt. Auburn St. and hanging out at the Plough I had not made it in to the transmitter for a few days, so I back-filled some entries, fabricating values for plate current, plate voltage and output power.

The night before had been tough. About 6:00 P. M, a female record-turkey had come in to the WBCN studios to do her Christmas rounds. I do not remember what label she represented, but I will not forget her pheromone-charged aura. Her long hair and her dress draped around her supple, womanly, slender form as she went from DJ to DJ and to me, handing out hand crafted wooden-capped cylinders, each wrapped with a ribbon and stuffed with an ounce and a half of Panama Red. “Merry Christmas, Bill,” she said softly to me, pressing the tube into my hands and herself for a second against my body, “We know your work. We appreciate your work.” I did not see her again, but, that night, after a few hours at the Plough, one of my girl friends had shown up at 122 Mt. Auburn St. and I had been up most of the night. So I was a little bit shaky this December morning as I hurried down Stuart Street through the interminable frigid winds around the Prudential and the gaping, skeletal John Hancock tower.

I had not been in the WBCN studio long enough to take off my jacket when Arnie Woo-Woo Ginsburg asked me to come in to the office. T. Mitch was sitting there. Arnie came right to the point. “Bill, did you take the transmitter readings on Monday and Tuesday?” “Yes,” I lied. “Then what about this,” said Arnie, as he took a sheet out of a folder and showed it to me. It was a transmitter log, filled in with the correct values for Monday and Tuesday and signed by Arnie. “I’m going to have to let you go, Bill,” Arnie said. T. Mitch smiled silently.

It was not quite over. Woo-Woo was fired himself within days by the smiling T. Mitch, probably as a result of an argument over T. Mitch’s plan to move the WBCN studios, as well as the transmitter, to the Prudential; a plan that Arnie thought extravagant and unnecessary. Al Perry was appointed Station Manager and asked me to continue working, as Brian Edgerton, my successor, didn’t seem to be ready to take over all the technician work. So I continued to report for studio work until, in February, 1972, a year and three weeks after I first arrived at WBCN, T. Mitch noticed that I was still there. Al appeared in the shop. “I can’t protect you against this stuff,” Al said, “just leave now.”

Previous:The Big M

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