It’s something every presenter has dealt with. It’s a rumour, a muttering in the back of your head. Whispers are passed around from person to person, increasing the legend. The ultimate question in radio; what do you do when it all goes wrong?

It could be anything. It could start anywhere. All it takes is something as easy as a frayed cable, or a song that hasn’t been censored properly. The tiniest flakes the biggest snowball makes.

I was on air last Sunday, and I was doing the news at the top of the hour, like we do. 

The way the news works is probably the most complicated part of the show. 

We get the news from an outside source, so at the top of the hour we have to perfectly sync up our station identifier with the start of the news. 

Too long and there’s an awkward silence. Too early and the end of our jingle crashes the start of the news. 

The trick to it is to find a beep. At the top of the hour there’s 30 seconds of tone, then a short montage of clips. It lets us know we’re at the right place. 

I’ve worked it out that it’s an overlap of about nine seconds, during which the station name gets said, then the news begins.

Having been at Pulse for a while, I know the signs and it kind of becomes ingrained to look out for the weather more than you’d realise. 

The problem is our signal for the news will drop out when it’s raining. Or snowing. I don’t know what, it’s something to do with the way we’re positioned at the top of the hill with the hills around us. It makes us more susceptible to interference and drop outs from our news provider, I’m not entirely sure why. Point is sometimes we lose signal for the news.

And that, my friends, is exactly what happened live on air right at the very top of my show. There was some bloke giving updates to tennis I think it was, it went all crackly…and he was gone. Nothing. Any DJ in that position who didn’t know what to do would panic.

First things first, you need to make a quick assessment; is it on your end or theirs? 

If your tech looks like it’s operating fine and the little lights on the desk are where they’re supposed to be, fine, it’s on them. 

Next it’s important to “get out“ of things like that quickly. You can’t just stop it dead because that’d sound awful. 

Also, nobody wants to listen to the end of the music bed, so you need to keep your ear on it. So we have a trick, it’s a noise you’ll hear at the end of every Pulse bulletin. 

That noise is when we stop the music bed, and line up the next thing, normally an advert. It all happens in the space of about five seconds, so timing is essential.

But with hour one done, hour two was coming up. I followed procedures and reset the system. And the time came and…nothing. 

So what do I do? You have nine seconds to make the choice what to do. 
Whether you fire up the Pulse news bed and hope something – ANYTHING will come out the speakers. Or do you fire in.

Fortunately I made the right choice. I just went into hour two of the show and to demonstrate I showed the listeners the silence coming from the speakers.

So to those of you who think this job is easy, well it is. But sometimes you need to press different buttons at a different time! Are you up for that challenge!?