A random look at the life and times of Jim Rising recovering radio addict and newspaper columnist.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

For audio geeks only

I read with interest a fellow blogger’s rhapsody to a microphone. He was talking about an RCA 77 DX which is pictured here. It’s a great microphone but for some odd reason I can’t say that I have ever used one on the air or in a recording session.

My broadcast career began at a 1,000 watt (250 at night) AM radio station in Barre Vermont. WSNO’s main studio microphone, pictured at right was an Electrovoice 664. Better suited to PA use I have no idea how it ended up in the control room. I can only say that it was indestructible. A good quality in a mike for a novice broadcaster to learn on

A few years later I found myself in a craphole called Jacksonville North Carolina at another 1,000 watter, WJNC. I was not yet 21, had hair down to my shoulders and a bad attitude that told the world I knew it all. I should never have taken the job but it was for fifty dollars more a week which at the time seemed like a fortune. I hated every minute of it and eventually got fired but I got to work behind this great microphone. The RCA 44 A made me sound like I really had a set, which of course I don’t but it was a hell of piece of gear. The only problem was the idiot who preceded me on the air (I was doing a midday shift) would tap a pen or a pencil on the face of the mike all the time he wasn’t actually talking into it. If you know anything about ribbon mikes you know this was bad news. Sometimes I would come in and see pieces of the ribbon on the counter under the mike. What a shame!

Next stop was an AM Daytimer in Springfield Vermont. I was a father by then, all of 21. WCFR with 5000 watts had the best ribbon mike I ever worked behind. Pictured here the Altec Lansing 639a looked to my eye like the mask on a medieval suit of armor. It was a fat sounding mike with unreal proximity effect and made me feel like I was Thurl Ravenscroft-the guy who sang the “Grinch song.” It was a heavy unit and the folks at WCFR were too cheap to buy a mike stand so it was suspended above the console with some sort of chain rig. You could raise or lower it by hooking the chains at different points. One day it came loose and darn near took me out!

Since those early days I have worked hundreds of different mikes. One station I was at had a GM who fancied himself a tech head so he would order all these different pieces of gear to test. I would estimate we tried 25 different mikes there.

Now I have a mike locker of my own with a bunch of Shures, a few Marshalls, A couple of EV RE-20’s, one Neuman and one Nady RSM2 ribbon mike, which I barely use because it’s a pain to shut off the phantom power on my console. But I still wish I had one of those Altec’s.

If you want to see more about any of these mikes most of them are on sale right now on ebay.

No comments: