I’ve been employed as a morning announcer for a lot of my radio career. I’ve also spent time doing the afternoon shift, which is 3-7 PM, traditionally. Morning radio shifts are usually 5-9 AM or 6-10 AM. I’ve enjoyed doing both shifts, but I’ve found that many “nine-to-five” people don’t quite understand the lifestyle of the early riser. People who’ve been employed as overnight factory workers, police men/women, convenience store clerks, etc. understand.
When I was hosting mornings at a radio station in Florida, our General Manager would sometimes demand that all staff report for a meeting at 3 PM. He wasn’t taking into account that my alarm went off at 2 AM, in order to be at work by 3:30. Morning announcers need to arrive about 90 minutes prior to their actual on-air shift, in order to prepare. At least, I do and I think most morning announcers I know would agree. I want to read the morning papers and get my “ducks in a row,” so that I’m informed and organized. I don’t have the gift of a Robin Williams when it comes to ad-libbing. And even Robin Williams can repeat material when he performs from city to city. Radio personalities can’t. It needs to be fresh material every day.
I’m on Hawaiian time here in our time zone. If a manager wants me to return to the office at 3 PM, I should be able to request him or her to meet me at 10 PM. Call me crazy, but I think most managers would decline. I’ve never tried asking. Most morning announcers I know take a 2-hour nap from, say, 2-4 PM and, then, retire for the night at 8 PM.
I arrive at work, as I’ve said, at 3:30 AM. By 10:30, I’ve worked 7 hours with no lunch hour. Most morning announcers don’t eat while they’re on-air because it causes one to salivate, which is not conducive to good diction. So, considering the lost “lunch hour,” I’ve put in an “eight-hour day” by 10:30, not that I’m watching the clock a lot. After 10 AM, most announcers have other duties, such as recording commercials, posting blogs on the station web site, etc. We also have the occasional station event to attend on weekends or early evenings.
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that my job is a nightmare. I love my job and I consider it a privilege to be able to speak my mind, joke around and make friends with the people who tune in to the program. It’s not hard labour and I feel blessed to have it. Plus, at AM 740, we have managers who understand the lifestyle of a morning person: They don’t call 3 PM staff meetings and they give us freedom to express ourselves. That’s rare in radio today and I’m grateful.
But, I’ve found that even some friends don’t quite understand the “time zone” we morning people live in. They often don’t understand why we don’t dine after 6 PM or why we’re tired at 7:30. Plus, on weekends, we can’t simply change our body clocks and stay up until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Old habits die hard. This cuts down your social life. I’ve had friends say, “Bill, you should get out more!”
On the plus side, though, we early-risers get to see more daylight. We’re usually home by 11:30 AM to enjoy lunch, have a nap and handle daily chores like grocery shopping, running errands, etc. The city is less busy when most people are working. It really comes in handy when your car needs maintenance or you need to renew your health card and that sort of thing. Driving around town is less stressful, too, since I seldom drive during rush hour.
Then again, friends do have a point about getting out more often to meet people and socialize. I have to admit that many of us early risers, myself included, unintentionally isolate ourselves to an extent. Maybe I need to meet more shift workers.