440: Satisfaction - In depth
The Dan Burleson Sunday Munchies:

Weekends on KONO in San Antonio were always pretty laid back. The oldies station was situated in downtown San Antonio adjacent to the ABC affiliate TV station KSAT. Former CNN Headline News anchor Lynne Russell was one of the stations' news anchors and her husband, the late Jim "the legend" Dunlap was the program director of KONO.

I never really minded coming into the station to do a weekend shift. Spinning oldies records on an AM radio station was always fun, but on the weekends it just felt like it was that much more fun. Hard to explain I guess.

Sunday mornings were filled with the usual religious and public affairs programming until 10:00. Then Casey Kasem's American Top Forty would be broadcast. The show was produced on LP discs, packaged and shipped to the radio station every week by Wednesday and then in our case, aired on Sunday mornings.

I was doing the Sunday morning shift 6am-noon when I cued up ATF on the turntables in the air studio. I was on about the third disc when a severe case of the munchies descended upon me. What is a radio dj to do? When you are hungry and even the vending machine in the break room has been picked through with only stale crackers and cheese packages left dangling in the cabinet. Heck, even going to the bathroom during an airshift was an event that had to be timed just so. You knew how long it took to walk down the hallways, do your business, and stride back to the studio. So, you planned well in advance with the song of appropriate length. So, this was my dilemma: How to get food and maintain my "presence" on the air.

I knew there was a Jack-In-The-Box burger joint about a mile away from the radio station. The segments on ATF usually ran about 18-20 minutes. So, I devised a plan to finish out the stop-set (commercials that were played on carts manually), start the next Casey Kasem segment and sprint to my car. I figured it would take four minutes road time to reach Jack-In-The-Box, eight minutes to order my burgers and collect them, and four minutes to get back to the station. That would leave me with 2-3 minutes to get back to the studio and prepare for the next stop-set. I had stacked the carts and cued-up the next American Top Forty LP ahead of time.

My plan was unfolding smoothly as I fired up the car, tuned in 860 AM KONO to monitor the station on autopilot while I was enroute to the restaurant. Wheeling into the burger joint I realized I would be the third car up to the drive-through window. Not to worry, I had calculated this possibility and added another minute to my plan. As Casey was counting down to sixth most popular song this week, I prayed the record WOULD NOT SKIP while I was a mile from the station sitting in the drive-through line at Jack-In-The-Box.

Everything was going along as planned. Casey had done his trademark smooth and mellifluous back-announce of the sixth most popular song in the country and segued into the intro to the nations fifth top selling single of the week. I was still two cars away from the window and I was getting nervous. Cranking up the volume in the car I patted the steering wheel. "Come on!" I mouthed as the car in front of me moved up. Just then another customer had pulled behind me in the drive-through lane. I was fully committed now. I had established a fail-safe time when I could abandon the effort and make it back in time to the station to catch Casey's outro. Now that option was gone as I was now pinned-in by vehicles ahead and behind me. The back of my neck started getting hot and I began sweating bullets.

The driver in front of me collected his order and his brake lights came on as he visually confirmed his order inside the sack. Mercifully as he put his car in drive and pulled away I could see my order being readied for delivery through the window. Casey Kasem just introduced the fourth most popular song in the country in this year 1981.

As I wheeled out into traffic and sped along the main drag back to the station, the generator light in my '71 Chevy Malibu came on. Can't stop now. My tires screeched around the three corners at high speed. I thought if a cop wanted to stop me he'd have to chase me all the way to the station.

The gravel parking lot at KONO was at the end of a shady drive that went between the television and radio stations. I was sliding sideways to a stop in the gravel parking lot. My door was already open and the ignition keys were in my hand as the car came to a stop in a cloud of dust. As I was sprinting for the front door of the station I manipulated the key in my hand so that it would be ready to insert into the lock the second I reached the door. All the while I was certain the record was skipping live on the air and the PD (Program Director) was making the red studio hot line button blink urgently.

Before I had left I had turned the lobby monitor up full blast and as I was running down the dark hallway, lunch in hand, I could hear Casey's patented outro heralding the segment was about to end and the stop-set was scheduled to begin:

"We'll return with the country 's top three most popular songs".

I turned the corner, lunged into the air studio and sat into the pre-positioned chair.

"When American Top Forty continues."

Sat the lunch down and reached for the cart start button.

"I'm Casey Kasem."


The commercial stop-set began seamlessly.

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