Heidi Bio PixHeidi VanEssendelft (1994-1995)

Traditional way to get hired for an on-air radio job: record yourself and try to improve the sound of your voice, visit radio stations and get to know a DJ willing to coach you, get familiar with the industry and the necessary skills, start small, record your best work onto a "demo" tape and send it to a lot of radio stations.

My way: come home from college for summer break, fill out applications for summer work at a couple places, and make a complete fool out of oneself at a live remote.

I never thought of becoming a radio personality. I was going to college for communications, but didn't really know where that would lead, I just thought the broadcast media was "neat." I was afraid of the club moderator for the college TV show, but I was part fo the club anyway "for my resume". I also did a 2hr per week radio show with my roommate on the college station WCLH. I was afraid of that too. It took two of us to do the show, we determined it was too complicated to talk into the microphone AND start the CD playing, so she did all the talking and I pushed the button on the CD player. If one of us couldn't be there then we would cancel our show that week (seriously).

May 1994, summer break, and my parents suggest I find a job (my first). I apply at the Bayshore-Brightwaters library, where Gram worked, she told me they look for students to help with the summer reading program. I also go to WLIX. I walk up the steps and into the office, Janet is there, and I ask for a job application. She lets me fill one out, but asks me if I have a tape. I think "Tape? Of what? I would like to work a few hours putting music away. All radio stations have music to put away, don't they?" I say "Um, no" and she is okay with that and says thank you. I leave. I hear nothing back from WLIX, even though I remember putting my phone number on the form. I take the job at the library.

One Saturday in June is the West Sayville Christian School annual fair. I attended school at WSCS for K to 9, so I naturally went to the fair. WLIX is doing a live remote. I want a prize, a plastic water bottle, in the worst way. I put my name in the bucket but I am never picked. The WLIX people, whoever they are (i admit, i was a walk listener), are very nice, and they put up with my begging for that silly water bottle. Some of them are using those Jack and Jill bubbles, but after a few hours they're all out of them. Aha, my mother had two bottles of bubbles in the back of the car (not sure why). "Could I trade two new jars of bubbles for that water bottle?" They go for it! I got the water bottle!

Ahead to Monday morning, the phone rings, a Jerry Williams from WLIX. He asks me to an interview, and a few days later I am once again heading up the steps to the office where Janet is once again at the desk. I still think I am being interviewed for a "music putter awayer" job. I wait nervously in the chair, glancing around at all these plaques and gold record albums on the wall. Then, it happens. The guy who finally let me trade for that water bottle comes into the room and says "It's Bubbles Girl!" I am so embarassed and i walk cowardly down the hall to his office. I am seated facing Jerry's desk and behind him Montauk Highway, and a rather intimidating man with thick glasses is in the corner to my right (John Bennett the chief engineer and operations manager). Jerry asks me if I'd ever done radio before, and I proudly tell him about the college show I do with my roommate. Then he asks me about my church, and where I went to school, and when I became a Christian, and things like that. I tell him about WSCS and about the church down the block, and about my accepting Jesus as my savior in chapel one day while I was in the third grade. Then he passes the interview on to the man in the corner. "John, do you have anything to add?" "Yes, what do you know about the Telecommunications Act of 1934?" Whoa, talk about change of topic. "Oh, it was in my intro to telecom textbook." "Okay, thank you." Now back to Jerry, he asks me if I am interested in the Saturday night shift, and I say "yes, what will I be doing?" He said "some music, and some taped shows, and then signing off." This sounded like more than putting music away, what have I gotten myself into? Well, it all worked out, I met Pete Winchester and Mike Lee and a lot of other great people, and it was even okay that Gram bring Friendly's ice cream in around 10pm every Saturday!

I filled a variety of non-drive-time shifts when I was home from college, and I even stayed on a little bit after the sale and format change, but it wasn't the same, and my services were not needed anymore with the "satellite service" they carried.

My college focus was in behind-the-scenes television production and engineering, and my internships and job opportunities were all in television. However, I became friends with a radio engineer who was going to help someone put a Christian radio station on the air in Scranton, and I offered to help them out in whatever way I could since I was in the area. I had a lot of CD's I would lend them, and I could help repair and hook up the equipment.

Although things didn't really turn out to be what I had hoped for (another place like WLIX) and it wasn't a long-term involvement for me, I met some great people, including "Chris, the smart alec disk jockey from Philly that came in to break the equipment" who is now my wonderful husband and fellow techie. I encourage you to check out his blurb to learn about his connection to the original WLIX, how this ministry became such a passion for the both of us, and our experiences leading up to our launching Christian 54 Online.

My WLIX-AM adventure began as a cool part-time job in broadcasting while my friends worked at 7-11 and the like. I learned from Chris and other "CCM gurus" what an impactful radio station WLIX was even though it was on the AM dial, and I've come to realize I like more than just Amy Grant, Twila Paris, and Silverwind.

The Lord continues to give me courage as I "learn as I go along" in maintaing the website and doing the IT stuff for Christian 54 Online. It's also blessing to visit with you in cyberspace every midday, but as more former WLIX-ers join us on the air at Christian 54 Online, I plan to become a part-time announcer again so I could get back to putting music away (it's really piling up).


Email: christian54wlix@verizon.net

A tribute to 16 great years of ministry and music on Long Island,
Christian54 WLIX-AM