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The Armenian Nightingale
Written April 27, 2006

Rediscovered original scripts added June 3, 2010


It was April 13, 1967.  Oberlin College was scheduled to play baseball at Kenyon College.

As Sports Director of Oberlin's student radio station WOBC, I had recently acquired a portable cassette tape recorder.  My colleague Lee Beckett suggested traveling with the team to Kenyon, describing the game on tape, then airing portions of it on my weekly Oberlin Digest the following night.  So I loaned him my recorder.

Well, the ball game was rained out, which was hardly surprising.  In northern Ohio's cold, rainy springs, it seemed that half the scheduled college baseball games had to be canceled.

But when I got the recorder back, I discovered that Lee and his friends had been practicing with it.  There was some fake baseball play-by-play, and there was also some music.  These denizens of North Hall seemed to be involved.  The main singer was Jim Gertmenian, who incidentally was of Armenian heritage.






I held onto the tape for 13 months before I found a use for it.  In May of 1968, I had been promoted to Program Director of WOBC.  Needing to fill an empty 15 minutes on my public-service schedule, I made the following announcement at 10:45 pm one Monday night.

That concludes CSDI Forum for this evening and for the year.  On the past 15 Monday evenings, we have presented programs produced by the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, Box 4068, Santa Barbara, California 93103, as part of WOBC’s continuing effort to provide high-quality educational and public-service programming to the Oberlin community.

Tonight, the program ended early.  We’re left with an extra quarter-hour to fill.  So we thought we’d give you some examples of the public-service programming that we unfortunately weren’t able to get onto the air for you this past semester due to lack of time.

There are many shows and announcements that are available to us, but we just can’t work them all in.  So at this time, WOBC proudly presents them on . . . THE DISCARD PILE.

(record at 78 rpm, take turntable out of gear, music slows down . . . )

Jim Gertmenian is known to his friends as the Armenian Nightingale.  He’s a local folksinger who made a tape for us last spring, but it’s only now that we’re able to get that tape onto the air.  Here he is, the Armenian Nightingale, to sing for you, “Turn Around.”

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"Turn Around."

Jim Gertmenian has many other talents as well.  For instance, he’s a sportscaster.  Last year he [took a break from singing and] interviewed Oberlin fencing star Craig Witty, as Craig was attempting to, uh, fix his motorcycle.

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"Dream" and the art of vehicle maintenance; "Very Last Day."

Jim will be back later on to sing another song for you, but now we must move on.

As you may know, radio stations are expected to play a number of public-service announcements — commercials for non-profit organizations.

We always try to choose the best of these for use on the air, but many worthy organizations get left out — mainly because the announcements they send us just don’t measure up to our standards.

Now we don’t feel that these organizations should be penalized just because they have inept advertising agencies who make poor commercials for them.  So we’re going to play some of these discarded announcements for you now.  Won’t that be thrilling?!  After tonight, never let it be said that WOBC is not a public-service-minded station.

(many spots)

Enough of that.  Now let’s hear again from the Armenian Nightingale, Jim Gertmenian.

Well, I guess Jim isn’t quite ready; let’s . . . hear another message.

(spot: Arthur Godfrey)

(spot: Walter Brennan)

You’re ready now, Jim?  Okay, let’s hear it.

(false start)

Too bad.  Well, better luck next time; that’s about all we have time for tonight.

You’ve been listening to THE DISCARD PILE, a collection of public-service announcements that never quite made it on WOBC along with the singing of the Armenian Nightingale, Jim Gertmenian.  We hope you’ll stay tuned now for Oberlin Digest . . .  I guess Jim wants to try it once again.

Okay, one more try.  Uh, this is Tom Thomas speaking for THE DISCARD PILE; do stay tuned for Oberlin Digest, won’t you?  All right, Jim, now sing your song for us, okay?

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"Mary Was Pretty."


EPILOGUE:  Emboldened by this experience, after I moved on to Station Director I approved a project by my successor as Program Director, Randy Bongarten, called "Experimental Radio."  During the college's first Winter Term in January of 1969, regular classes were replaced by individual study projects.  Therefore, we at WOBC replaced our usual format.  I taped this promotional announcement.

:40 Promo

Experimental Radio!

(SFX:  machine gun five shots, segue to same-tempo opening of Mozart’s Musical Joke)

During the month of January, WOBC will not be broadcasting its regular programs because of Winter Term.

However, the station will be on the air in the evenings, which gives you a chance to participate!  In place of regular programming will be your experimental programming!

(SFX:  other background sounds, including a falsetto National Anthem)

WOBC is your station, and in January you’ll have a chance to do with it what you like.

Those of you who are not WOBC staff members, and those of you who are, may participate by doing anything you want in your time slot — within reason.  Put your ideas on the air!

For details, including what time slots are available, contact Randy Bongarten at 5183 or 3157.



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