Young Peter Federson has done it again; he had accidently ended an opera broadcast on WSIU early because he wasn’t paying attention. A bad grade for his on-air performance could tip Peter’s miserable grade point average towards academic suspension. Student station manager Ronald Stackhouse is walking across Carbondale with Peter, and chewing him out every step of the way...
“… I don’t know what the hell I’m going to do…maybe give you a D… Ronald’s face was contorted in disgust.
“Come on Ron,” I was frightened, and as if I wasn’t feeling sick enough, at the bottom of the stairs I was suddenly mugged by an odor that was so palpable that it knocked the wind out of me.
“My God! What’s that smell?” I gasped.
Ronald sniffed. “Oh that…the usual, lavender, sandalwood, cheery, vanilla…”
“Bacon, eggs, hamburger, fried onions …” I had my hand over my mouth.
“Corned beef hash, Pine-Sol, mold, mildew...” Ronald was looking a lot less grim.
“And what else is there, pot?” I was starting to choke.
“Yup,” said Ronald as he opened the door and entered the warm incandescent light of his living room. The shadows fell away from his face, and a big maroon Yummie Cola machine came into view against the opposite wall.
I’d forgotten about that.
It wasn’t the type of soda machine that decorated the lobby of the Comm Building, either. No, that wasn’t good enough for Ronald, because he wanted control of the proprietary mixture. This Yummie Cola machine mixed the soda with the syrup, before your very eyes!
Ronald strolled over to the apparatus and grabbed a trademark Yummie glass from a line
of glasses on top of the machine, and woosh—a perfect stream of soda filled a perfectly-designed glass.
“Here, have a Yum.” Ronald smiled as he handed me the drink.
“I see. Do you have any ice?” I asked.
This drew a murderous frown and the admonition, “You never put ice in a Yum, maybe in a Choke, but never in a Yum. And as you can see, I only serve Yummie Cola here.” With a grand gesture, Ronald waved the perfectly-poured Yum in the perfect glass around the room, and I saw maroon: Maroon signs featuring frosty bottles, maroon Yummie ashtrays, and photos of people with gleaming white teeth enjoying Yummie Cola. And next to a stack of Yummie cases on the floor stood a life-sized cardboard cut-out of Ronald Ramjet—dressed in helmet and leather jacket—holding a raised bottle of Yummie Cola next to a control board, the master control board for WRRP.
I had forgotten about that, too, and remembered that once Ronald stepped into his apartment, he was no longer the hassled student station manager of WSIU, with its occasional forays into bad radio. No, with every sip of his Yum, irritable, sarcastic Ronald Stackhouse was changing into Ronald Ramjet, station manager and owner of WRRP, home of Ronald Ramjet Productions, the most perfect transmitterless radio station in the world.
Talk about Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde!
But though Ronald Stackhouse had transformed himself into Ramjet, Peter Federson hadn’t changed at all.
“I guess things are looking pretty grim for me,” I said.
“Grim? Why ever would you say that?” Ronald looked surprised.
“You just spent the last twenty minutes bitching me out about my on air performance!”
The Jet—as he was called informally—was dusting the control board after having put away a pile of carts that were sitting on the table.
“That was part one of the series,” he said. “I swear, this place is a mess.” He picked up an errant pencil and put it in a drawer.
And so Peter Federson had passed into the magical world of the RRP, an optimistic world where his grade point average would…with some luck… magically recover. What the Jet told Peter during their meeting would be crucial to his staying in school, and avoiding the draft.
One of the many features on the RRP is "Gutbombing-it": reviews of fast food restaurant such as "The Wink."