The poem below was written by the late Jim Withers and has become a Radio World tradition.
‘Twas the night before Christmas and up at the site,
Not a creature was stirring, not the kind that can bite.
The gear had been checked and checked twice with great care,
In the hopes that on Christmas I’d be here and not there.
The GM was nestled all snug in his bed
While visions of dollar signs danced in his head.
The station was fine; I hung up my cap,
And planned to relax with a long winter’s nap.
When there on the nightstand the phone raised a clatter,
Remote control calling, its mechanical chatter
Confirmed what I feared and knew in a flash:
The plates read “point zero.” I’d just have to dash.
To the site with the moon on the new fallen snow,
I pulled on my boots and made ready to go.
When I got up the mountain the problem was clear
Some guy thought our building looked just like a deer.
With a dead RF final and drive way too hot
I knew in my gut what it was that got shot.
A hole in the tube! That’ll cause it to fail.
“But where is the spare?” I started to wail.
On a shelf? In the cabinet! Where is that darned spare?
In a box marked “Still Good”? Nope, not even there.
I looked on the porch, on the shelf on the wall
I dashed this way and that way and dashed down the hall.
And then in a twinkling, I found what I needed
And did a quick check as the job was completed.
I pushed the plates on, and was turning around
When up the tube’s chimney, smoke came with a bound.
I was frozen with fear, from my head to my foot,
As my clothes got all covered with ashes and soot.
A bundle of money had been flung up the stack
And I cursed that guy’s gun hanging back in its rack.
My eyes were not merry, my smile likewise buried.
My cheeks were all bristly, my mood was still harried.
My droll little mouth was locked tight in a frown
As I worked toward “back on” instead of “still down.”
The shorting rod shook as I gritted my teeth
And the smoke? It circled my head like a wreath.
Now, I have a broad face, some say a round belly
But there was no laughter that night, no bowlful of jelly.
I was crabby and tired, not a Christmas Eve elf
And I yelled and I cursed and felt bad for myself.
In the blink of an eye and a punch of a button
I’d burned up big bucks, just all of a sudden.
I spoke not a word, went straight back to work,
And found a new tube; plugged it in with a jerk.
And keeping my finger real close to “Plate Off,”
Punched it back on with a small, nervous cough.
A spring in my step, I gave out a yell.
It powered right up! I was leaving this hell.
The sun was just up as I drove from the site
Merry Christmas to me; I’m done! …
For more holiday fun, read Gerhard Straub’s take, “Twas the Night at the Site.”