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Behind the Mic: The Super Adventures of WCBE's Cathy Rinella


Faster than a satellite radio wave!
More powerful than a hi-definition transmitter!
Able to leap giant broadcast towers in a single bound!
Master of the airwaves, Radioman!
And with that, Radioman was born on WCBE's airwaves.
Back in 2007, I was still a green intern, and my sound design knowledge was limited to promos I had mixed at the station. But I had been interested in voice acting for a long time, and volunteering my voice to a lot of unique radioplay-type stories (before podcasts were cool). I had heard enough of them to understand the basics and thought, “I bet I could do that”.

That fall was our “Green Columbus” fund drive, and there was a lot of brainstorming going on in our staff meeting to think of new and unique things we could do to engage listeners. It was actually Heather who suggested the idea of a radioplay-type segment, and I was so excited about it that my brain went into overdrive. I nearly knocked over my chair offering to help.

It was a caricature of the early Superman radio serials – if Superman had gotten his powers from a radio transmitter. And since WCBE is a team, Radioman needed a team as well – the League of Radio Excellence. Protecting Columbus from the dastardly Assembly of Destruction. One episode turned into seven. A story series sprouted a listener contest contest. Official art and a costume came out of nowhere.
It was amazing, but there was one crucial element I overlooked.

There wasn't a lot of it before fund drive. Station staff were gracious enough to record all of their lines for the series ahead of time. When I was finally ready to sit down to mix the episodes, it was literally the day before the fund drive kicked off. In my ignorance, I thought, “This will take just a few hours; I'll get it done this afternoon and go home tonight for some well-needed rest before the fund drive starts. What a maroon I was.

I pulled an all-nighter at the station, and finished an hour before air time. When I finished at my part-time job the next day, I drove straight back to the radio station to work on Episode 2. Now that I had figured out how to mix everything together, the process should be faster, right? Wrong. Each episode took 12-16 hours to mix, and every night I would huddle over my clunky, too-small laptop with junk headphones in the corner of the Producers Lounge, desperate to beat that 8 am deadline. Lots of power napping on the station couch, and the occasional sleep-deprived craziness. One afternoon I spent a good 10 minutes tromping up and down the station hallway pretending to be a Tyrannosaurus Rex. (There's footage.) 

But just like the radio team of fiction, everyone at WCBE came to the rescue. People covered some of my pitch shifts, made sure was fed, and that I got some sleep somewhere. And Dan Mushalko – our Radioman - saved the day on and off the air, looking after my stressball of a project whiles simultaneously putting out fires, pitching on air and keeping everyone's spirits up.

It was a week of all-nighters, with questionable mixing and horrible time management – and yet to this day, it's one of my favorite projects to look back on, just for the sheer joy people got from listening to that series. And it happened because my station family had faith in me.

I'm definitely never mixing myself into a corner like that ever again.  But rest assured, if ever trouble should arise once more, Radioman and the League of Radio Excellence will be there to save the day!