Steve Schappell-My Blog

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Radio Days...

"Good evening Beaver Falls, My name is Steve Schappell. And I'm Brian Johnson,  And together we are THE MEN, Thursday nights, 9-midnight on FM 88.3 WGEV..."

With those words, my college pal Brian and I started off our weekly 3 hour radio show at our college radio station.  From 1984 to 1988, we were THE MEN, a combination of comedy, music and mayhem.  We took our theme from a song by the band, A.D., and their song "We are the men."

In addition to our radio show, we each had our own slots.  I had mid-Monday with Steve and Weekend shifts.  Here is a photo from the archives when I was on air, showcasing my only one time beard, and the incredible 80's technology.

Let's take a trip back in time to the Reagan 80's and a small college in Western PA.  Geneva College and WGEV, our christian radio station.  I was a communications major at the time, and our radio station was a small building on campus, right along route 18th.  The upstairs had offices, production rooms, storage and the studio, while the downstairs included classrooms, offices, and our mock studio for training. 

Back then, you had to train offline, and then take your FCC test in order to have a Class 1 Radio License, allowing you to broadcast.  Our station was run as a real world station.  We had a Music Director, a Production Director, Newsroom, and other positions.  The positions were unpaid, but were part of the station flow.  We received a playlist for our shifts, but had room for requests.  We had a log of when to play station sounders, commercials, and music.

Once you received your license, you were put into the rotation and were broadcasting weekly, or daily.  Most of our shows were weekly, due to the number of people broadcasting, and our college schedules being more important.

But the technology...that's what I wanted to talk about.  We are in the 80's...well before Cell Phones, CD's, Computers with digital music.  Look back at my photo and what do you see?  In the upper left, a Reel-to-Reel Machine.  To the right of that, (2) Cart Machines that played what looked like 8-track tapes.  Upper right corner are the Carts we played with commercials, music sounders, intros, etc.

I have headphones to listen to songs that were cued up, and there is a clipboard, with the playlist and log.  We had knobs for everything across the long board.  These controlled the sounds from all the machines, and the music from....wait for it...the albums we played.  Yes-VINYL rules!    Of course, later on, we were also using cassettes, but still.

I almost forgot the studio phone at the left.  At least it was push button, and not rotary dial.  No wait, is that a rotary dial there?  Hmmm.

For news, we relied on "Sparky,"  He was our Associated Press, or AP teletype machine.  News and sports scores would come over the wire, and we could enhance it with news from the local paper.  Sparky had a bell when news would come in.  It was what you would call a PUSH service, news was sent to us, after it happened, and then it would be edited together by staff or a DJ for the news.    I remember the day of the Challenger Space Shuttle Explosion.  I was attending Mass Media class with my roomate.  When the class was over, we were walking upstairs and past the studio when Sparky went wild.  The news flowed out and we ran back to our dorm to watch the news unfold on the lobby TV with others in the dorm.

Between our shows, we did production work to prepare for our shows.  For THE MEN, Brian and I would record spots on the Reel-to-Reel tape machine, and then add layers one at a time for sound effects, etc.  To edit our spots, we used an editing block, razor blade, and special tape.  That's how we edited.  Cranking the reel-to-reel back and forth listening for the place to cut and splice the tape.    It was a lot of work, but was the latest technology for the time.

OK, back out of the time machine and back to 2016.  Over the weekend, I volunteered for the Kids Cookie Break Fest, held at the Junction Center in Manheim, home of WJTL.  They are a Christian Broadcasting station, that includes the studio, outside concert venue, indoor stage and event center.  Before my shift began, I was able to attend a studio tour.

The tour included offices, the "Live at the Junction Center" indoor cafe and stage setting, Production rooms, and the Radio Studio.   Part of the time in the studio included asking questions with the current on-air personality (Not a DJ), and looking at how they work on the air.  Take a look at Radio Friend Phil working the controls.

Compare this to my photo.  What a difference.  What you don't see completely are the (4) Monitors.  To the far left, that monitor is open to their facebook and twitter accounts, plus email.  All the social media that comes in is displayed there.  So requests from listeners some in to that terminal.  The black terminal in the photo is the playlist and the digital archives.  For example, I call in a request.  The on air personality can type in the song title or artist and get a list, then select the song and have it ready to play.  There were no records, cassettes or CD's here.  The music is computerized, digital and ready to play.  The other monitor in the photo are for station information related to the transmission, commercial information, and other stuff.  The board is smaller and has sliders for volume control.  No more knobs.  There are tables and microphones for guests and artists, who perform in the studio.

It is not a large studio, but then neither was ours in college.  You don't meet that much room to broadcast out.  We got a look at their production areas.  No Reel to Reel here.  All digital editing, including a recording studio, where personalities create on air content.  For example on Saturday nights, there is a Top 25 countdown.  I thought it was done live.  Nope.  Completely recorded in advanced, edited and then played for 2 hours. 

For me, I was amazed because I have not been in a radio studio in a long time and it was a great treat.  Thank you WGEV for the college memories and experience, and thank you, WJTL for the tour and some new memories.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The other Big "C" for me

This post is not about Cancer.  No, this is about Cancer Prevention.  When men reach a certain age, usually at 50, it's time for a Colonoscopy.  I've heard horror stories about it.  That you have to drink gallons of bad tasting stuff. (not gallons)  That you cannot eat for days (well,a day).  That you can feel sick and nauseous.  It was basically nothing good. 

In May, I turned 50, and now it's my time.  Tomorrow is my outpatient surgery, and so tonight, I am up in our bedroom waiting it out.  I took half of the Suprep (what is is called), along with 16 oz of water within the first hour of taking the prep.  I take the 2nd half tomorrow morning at 5 am, with more water.  I need to be completely finished 4 hours before I report at 10 am.  Another day off work at least.

The prep was a 6 oz bottle, mixed with cold water to fill up a 16 oz container that comes with the kit.  I must have been thirsty, because I chugged it all down.  It is sort of grape flavored and pasty.  Well, about an hour later, it all started.  No need for further explanation.

My day at work was busy after a 4 day vacation, and I drank tea and Powerade.  All I wanted to do was eat something.  Anything.  I cannot eat until after the surgery tomorrow.   When I got home from work, my step-daughter told me she made pancakes because she thought it would be something I was not interested in.  I would be interested in anything, like the cardboard the pancake mix comes in.

I am thankful for my wife, who is picking up my daughter from work, so I can stay near the bathroom.  I am watching the Olympics and doing some bills.  The dog is with me, and the cat just left the room. 

I did not know what to expect.  So far, no nausea.  Not much appetite, although I can have broth, jello and more water.  Only yellow, orange, or green colored popsicles, jello, or liquids. 

Of course, I am looking for a good result after the outpatient surgery.  My wife is my driver and companion tomorrow and we will see what happens.  I can send out an update after this is all over.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Accept and Accepted

Hello everyone.  It has been a while since my last posting.  A lot has been going on here, including preparing for vacation, yard sales, and house projects.  Let's see how this post will turn out.

I have been involved with Celebrate Recovery as a Men's Small Group leader for that past 4 years. We meet weekly and have a large group worship (Music, lesson or testimony), and a small group share.  We close our large group with the Serenity Prayer.  Part of the prayer goes like this:

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.  The courage the change the things I can.  And the wisdom to know the difference."

So, what have I learned to accept in my life.  That is not an easy question, because at age 50, I am still discovering things about myself.  Once you realize that you can never escape yourself--that you are always with, well, you--it changes your perspective.

Here are some things I have come to accept.  Some of these things I cannot change.  Others, I will need courage and God's help to change.  Can I gain the wisdom to know the difference?  That is the question.

-I accept that I am an only child and grew up selfish.  That I never learned to interact with a brother or sister, so sharing was something that I did learn how to do very easily.

-I accept that my family of origin shaped me into who I am for better or worse.

-I accept that I am not easy to get along with.  That my behavior in the past has alienated me from developing close relationships.  And even though I would like to be included in activities with other married couples, I may be the one that affects that decision.

-I accept that God came into my life at age 17, and radically changed the trajectory of my life.  This influenced my decision to attend a Geneva College, and be active in the churches I have attended ever since.

-I accept that my shortcomings during my first marriage contributed to an eventual divorce.  There were many factors on both sides-however, I was able to persevere thanks to God's grace.

-I accept that I made mistakes as a father to my (2) children.  However, it is never to late to change them.  I also accept that I did many things right, and continue to develop and maintain a relationship with them.

-I accept that I am not working at where I want to be, but that God has me there for a reason and his timing is always perfect.  He is allowing me to provide for my household and blended family.

-I accept that I am far from a perfect husband.  I have many issues to work out, and will continue to do so.  Thank goodness for the Grace that God provides each day.

-And I accept that God is not finished with me yet.  That I am running a race that will not be completed until I leave this world when he calls me home.

Well, that was some list.  After all that, I often think "Can anyone accept me for who I am?"  Thank goodness I have an answer of YES.  And you do also.  That answer is God, through his son Jesus.  He accepts me for who I am, in spite of myself.  In fact, we loved me before I was even born.  He loved me so much that he died for me, and for you.  The neat thing is that God meets us where we are, in the condition we are in.  We don't have to change.  Our desire to change and be more like Him happens when we receive him in our life. 

It is am amazing feeling to know that God accepts me and does not stop that acceptance.  His Grace is poured out daily, and his love covers a multitude of sins.  If you have a down day, or feel like giving up, remember that God loves you and accepts you for who you are, and that will never change.