Staff Sgt. Sean Flansbaum was a guest DJ Wednesday morning on EDGE Radio 1575 AM at Misawa Air Base, Japan.

Staff Sgt. Sean Flansbaum was a guest DJ Wednesday morning on EDGE Radio 1575 AM at Misawa Air Base, Japan. (Jennifer H. Svan / S&S)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Staff Sgt. Sean Flansbaum owned about 800 albums in high school. He was a music buff who as a kid recorded radio shows with his friends on cassette tapes.

Flansbaum, who turns 26 next week, now works as a surveyor and engineer’s assistant for the 35th Civil Engineer Squadron. But that childhood dream of spinning tunes and banter across the radio dial never died.

So it was with a jumble of excitement and nerves that Flansbaum took to the air Wednesday morning as part of EDGE Radio AM 1575’s fledgling guest DJ program.

“I’ve never done any radio in my life other than that childhood stuff,” he said minutes before airtime. “I have a little pre-show jitters, but I’m not really sweating it too much. This might make me a celebrity, who knows?”

The program started earlier this summer as a way to get the base community more in tune with the American Forces Network radio station, said Staff Sgt. Dwight Hawkins, noncommissioned-officer-in-charge of radio.

Guest DJs don’t get to pick the songs. The morning show is Top 40 and the playlist for the 9-10 a.m. guest slot is pre-selected. But phone-in requests within that music genre are OK, Hawkins said.

First-timers on the radio seem to have enough to worry about when they first take to the air. They announce the next song and squeeze in bits about the weather, the day’s yen rate and upcoming community events.

Cuss words and political editorializing are off-limits, but the wannabe DJs have to ad-lib their way through an average 30 to 40 seconds of airtime between tunes. Regular morning-show host Airman 1st Class Michael Hutchinson gives the cue when it’s time to go live and pushes all the buttons that keeps the show humming along.

A self-described extrovert with a smooth radio voice, Flansbaum said the experience was a blast but not as easy as it seems. A few times, he felt efforts to be funny fell flat.

“I can’t tell if anyone’s laughing,” he said.

And then there was the inevitable stage fright.

“When he points at me and everything falls silent,” he said of Hutchinson, “it’s like my brain … leaves me, but once I get those first words out, it’s OK.”

Hutchinson advice to the guest DJs is to slow down and think about what they’re saying.

“I think if you’re not getting nervous at all, you might get too comfortable,” he said.

Anyone 18 or older — civilian, spouse or military member — can do the gig. The next open slots are in September. Call DSN 226-3815 or e-mail to sign up.

“We want folks from the community who wonder what it’s like to host a radio show,” Hawkins said.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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