I told Kel this story after we finished watching an interview with Paul McCartney stating how he thought Robert Plant was a brave guy. Paul had gone to a Led Zeppelin concert at Earl’s Court and the band featured lasers very prominently throughout their show. He thought “That guy is really brave cause he’s standing right in front all these lasers which could cut him in half!!”
Paul said that his only reference to lasers had been this famous scene from the James Bond movie Goldfinger:
James Bond: Do you expect me to talk?
Auric Goldfinger: No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die.
Anyway, Paul went on to use lasers with Wings and everyone lived happily ever after... but back to me, me, me! The story takes place while I was interning at the local rock station 107.9 The Rock in Beaumont, TX. I was asked to come along to broadcast a live remote of the local symphony’s 4th of July performance. The show was coming to the climatic number and the fireworks and lasers were ready to go.... but then... tragedy! Paul Keel, the station’s program director and DJ for the event, said they had lost the signal to the stage left microphone and I needed to go check the cable. “That’s great!” I thought “I know what a microphone AND a cable are so... I can do that!” Understand that I was eager to please because I had sort of put music in the backseat to pursue this “radio thing” full steam ahead.
So I take off toward the stage riding the virtual white horse in my mind because I was going to save the day! The orchestra was about two minutes into the finale and the lasers had just started. The projectors were positioned in front of the stage so that the lasers would fan out towards the audience. I reach the edge of the stage only to see the microphone... on the other side of the laser projector. My only experience with lasers was seeing them come out of Egon’s proton pack, the starship Enterprise, and when they destroyed Aldeeraan so I paused and knelt at the corner of the stage. Do I walk through a bunch of green lasers and get cut in half in front of a 4th of July crowd? I think not. So I grab a stick on the ground and throw it into the lasers to see if it is tickled by green light or bursts into flames.
I throw it into the fanned out flashing beams and then... (did I mention the lasers were flashing?)... the stick arches through empty air in the seconds that the lasers were off. Of course, that’s the only stick in a three mile radius and now I’m freakin’ because I see the firework guys getting ready to light ‘em up... we’ve been broadcasting half of an orchestra for the last 4 minutes or so. Just as I’m about to throw my shoe in the laser, I hear someone behind me... it’s Mr. Program Director. He rushes past me and into the fanned lights of death and miraculously isn’t sliced and diced while checking the microphone cable. He turns and grumbles something as he passes me... I’m sure it wasn’t “Better safe than sorry, Wolfford”.... probably something that rhymes with Numb Mass. By the time the “rocket’s red glare and bombs” were “burs-ting iiiin air” they discovered it wasn’t the microphone or the cable but something else entirely.
I don’t remember what happened afterwards but my career as a radio station intern was short lived anyway. After doing a short stint with Rick Steel from midnight through 6 am-ish as “The Intern From Hell”, I had enough of DJ-ing. Music was eventually moved back into the front seat and I’m pretty sure it was the right move. Being a mainstream DJ in today’s market is about as interesting as being a typewriter salesman... for me that is!
Now it’s time to make laser sounds... “pewwwww pewwwww pewwwww”