By Bob Burnham
The title sounds like a daytime soap opera, but it’s not.

Everyone goes through “phases.” 

Some are good, some are difficult or bad in other ways, while others are just “different.”

Your parents give you a place to live and feed you as a kid, then you become an adult and all hell breaks loose!

We get married (or not), have kids and pets (or not), lose jobs, change jobs and get new jobs.  In fact, all of the above are “subject to change” at anytime, occasionally when we would rather NOT change.

Sometimes we get in a rut that we’re really not very happy with.  We are forced to take multiple jobs to pay bills.  The jobs may not be exactly enjoyable either.  I have been there; I know what the drudgery is like. 

Fast food?  Been there.  Production line with horrible working conditions?  Been there.  Self-employed?  Been there a lot and still am to a degree.

The main goal is to wrench your life into a position where your job really doesn’t seem like work – that you’re actually doing something to make money that you actually enjoy doing.
  Often it takes extra effort on your part to get yourself into that position, and sometimes the  “dream” job turns out NOT to be permanent.   Been there and did that as well!

Then you have to re-invent yourself AGAIN, and go out and sell yourself to someone else.  This is life.

Jobs that start when you’re a teenager that you never change until you retire for the most part, don’t exist anymore, but that’s part of what keeps life interesting.
I started out as an AM disc jockey.  Well guess what!?…such an occupation really doesn’t exist anymore!  In fact today, AM radio (as we used to know it) itself barely exists.  To fill in the gaps, I took many odd jobs as I re-invented myself including self-employment.  This I parlayed back into full time work in the radio business. 

My line of thinking was: What can I do or learn that would be MOST valuable to a broadcast corporation that I already know how to do or can learn?   In the early 1980s, I was full time air talent and a Production Director.  By the END of the decade, I was a Chief Engineer.

Realize you’ll have to learn a LOT as you go through a transition like this, and if you don’t have certain inherent skills, it will take longer, or you may need to re-think your goals.

Along the way, you will get frustrated, disgusted and feel impatient, but hang in there.  A positive attitude will get you through.

With any luck, you will (hopefully) encounter some amazing people who will give you a nudge or an otherwise encouraging word or from whom you will learn things.  Never forget those people.  They might also be a future lifeline, aside from the fact that one can never have too many friends, especially those with common professional interests. 

It doesn’t happen overnight, but if you are relentless in your pursuit of whatever your goals are, you will survive and find yourself into a rather enjoyable PHASE.

This evolution of life repeats itself over and over.  Enjoy the ride.  It never ends until you’re dead!

    -Bob Burnham  
      January 22, 2011


(written/produced by me and I was one of the voices).
An Introduction & Some Memories
By Bob Burnham

The concept of remote broadcasts has become almost obsolete.  The fact is any cell phone can “put you on the air” – maybe of not “broadcast quality” but certainly of “reasonable” quality for a short duration.

The type of Remote I’m referring to, however (which are also still done), are more of an “event” where all the talent involved with the show is on-site and appropriate equipment is set up to deliver broadcast quality from that location.  

There’s lots of different ways to do it, depending on the nature of the show.  Talk shows, for example, with listener call-ins are more complex.  There are separate producers/call screeners back at the studio who have to manage that portion of the program and constantly communicate with the on-site talent and on-site producer.

Typically laptops with some sort of digital connection back to the studio call-screener’s screen AND the phone system are common tools to help talent coordinate what’s “coming up next.”

A “sponsored” remote (meaning an advertiser paid the station extra money in order to bring you out to his site or the event) usually has the biggest budget to do whatever you need to do, as well as pay for any extra support people.

A Promotions person sets up the station banners, hands out bumper stickers or whatever the freebie item of the day is, and coordinates any special activities during the show.  

At a smaller station (or those with small budgets– which today is MOST stations), that person may also double as the on-site “engineer” who sets up the equipment.

Getting the audio back to the studio (and back again) can be accomplished using a combination of methods.

The method of “off-air” communication can be handled using any number of schemes: 

Those methods include cell phones, a talk-back system (built into the broadcast equipment), a “chat” window on the laptop computers (or in the “old days” a 2-way business band radio-transmitter combination similar to what is still used for dispatching in taxis and police and fire departments). 

A copy of the station log is normally required at the remote site.  Alternately, the same log can be shown on the on-site laptop screen, though it is common practice to manage the “official” copy by the Producer at the studio site.  

Normally, all programming elements are played from the studio site (except for what originates from open mics)  although “in a pinch” (assuming support equipment is available), a special segment can be played back from the remote site.


I had a routine to set up a remote each and every Friday morning for “Fat Bob” Taylor at various Ann Arbor Kroger stores.  These were “paid” remotes obviously, and I was the “combination” person on staff – (both Engineer and Air-Talent) responsible for making sure everything worked and was set-up correctly. 

That went on for many months in 1979.  Nothing bad ever happened and Taylor and I became good friends.  (“Programming,” however, claimed all of me full time as their Production guy. After that, the only remotes I was involved in at that particular station were as talent.)

The most incredible memories I have doing remotes were at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show.  Those were exhausting adventures that stretched usually over a 10-day period.  It was me who planned and managed those events on-site for most of the 1990s.  

I was usually the one who drove the station vehicle loaded with equipment, furniture and supplies, and the one who waited for hours on loading docks (freezing) while (sometimes rude and bitchy) unionized workers unloaded us and took our gear to our display site.  The process was repeated in reverse after the show (often on a late Sunday night – that was fun Not.).

I usually had someone from the station with me, but sometimes I was alone.   We eventually built a very high-tech remote customized furniture rig. It was on wheels and had everything pre-wired and equipped with a small console.  I don’t know what happened to that rig, but it was terrific for what we designed it for.  

There were a lot of details that went into these events like riser carpeting, table drops, banners, signs, furniture, color coordination etc.  We also even had a small baby-grand piano at our remote site.  The goal was to compete directly with other stations and out-class the best of them!

I was also the one whom every night fashioned heavy duty towing chain and padlocks through our furniture and equipment.  Nothing was ever stolen.  Details.  You’ve GOT TO BE detail-oriented to pull off a successful Remote!

We had furniture stores sponsoring as well as a music store who provided the piano.

I was usually part of selecting the furniture, and always part of the physical moving it to our studios, then out to Cobo Center.   Yep. We went through that routine EVERY year starting in late December!

 One of our sales dudes was also the Italian program host, and he brought live musicians to our stage during his broadcasts! 

But frankly, there were some years I ABSOLUTELY DID NOT look forward the Auto show remote!  I dreaded it, in fact.  As mentioned it was (usually) exhausting, our tempers got tried, and there were SO many details thrust upon basically only two or three of us.

Some of the years, I was part of the “black tie event,” and I remember the last-minute fittings at President Tuxedo!  We had people on-air like Bob Lutz on our stage.

In later years, however, our management people and I decided to turn it into an unofficial staff “party event” in Detroit.  

For the one year we were part of "RADIO AAHS" network (similar to todays' Radio Disney) I COULD NOT BELIEVE the huge crowds we had attracted.  Well...  it was kind of a cool concept at least for a LITTLE while.
Even though it was hard work, those became years some of us will never forget. It was entirely the people at that station who ended up making those Remotes among my career highlights.  Thank you to all.

To name just a few: Jack Bailey, Scott Greenberg, David Wallace Johnson, Jerome Lott, Susan McGraw, Dino Valle, and behind the scenes, Kathy Carrington, Marylou Janiga and Carrie Abdo among others…oh yes, I can’t forget our beloved station “handyman,” Steve Fapka:  Steve helped keep me sane during those trying moments on Cobo Center’s loading dock!
We all kept each other from going crazy and watched each others back.   
-          Bob Burnham
        November 28, 2010