Dead Air: a special interest history

dead air
  1. an unintended interruption of the video or audio signal during a television or radio broadcast.

Age 4, I begged my mom for music until she brought me home a Playskool Rockin’ Radio with a missing button. I think that’s my earliest, happiest memory. I spent hours listening to the same cassette tape over and over and scrolling through the crackle of frequencies just out of range.

Age 6, I got a pink handheld Talkgirl cassette recorder from a yard sale. I sat in front of my mom’s giant console stereo and recorded the local radio station that we could finally pick up after moving into town. I taped the songs and quietly, alone in my room, recorded myself in between the tracks, announcing each song as if it were a secret.

Age 8, a boombox for Christmas and my first CDs. Backstreet Boys, Selena, Spice Girls, a mix of 90s party hits. It was magnificent, long and oval with a dent in the right speaker. I vividly remember the feel of the cool metal grating of the speaker as I pressed it to my face and listened to white noise as I fell asleep.

Age 10, I received a gift I hadn’t even dared to ask for, a portable CD player. It changed my world. The first of many, I went years with only uncovering my ears when absolutely necessary. The times between one breaking and waiting for a new one were torture. I remember the last moments of each one, the heartbreak, the tears, the hopelessness. I felt like I needed music to survive.

Age 17, I saw the inside of a radio station for the first time and got a job announcing southern gospel music on an AM station each weekend at 6 a.m. I didn’t care what I was announcing or who I was announcing it to, I was finally on the radio.

Age 18, I only applied to one school, the nearest university’s School of Journalism and Broadcasting, one of the best in the country. I only applied to one job, the radio station in the tiny neighboring town. For two years I spent most of my free time alone in the rundown country station, chain-smoking and reading the news. I barely got by in all the classes that were not about broadcasting and turned simple radio writing assignments into full-scale productions. Nothing seemed as important as radio.

Age 20, I moved to an AM news/talk station to the delight of my 14-year-old Newsradio-obsessed self. What followed were nine of the happiest months of my professional life. I was a reporter, I was a producer, I was ecstatic. I was eventually laid off.

Age 22, I graduated with a degree in broadcasting and zero experience outside of a radio station. I found other jobs. I found other things to make me happy, like iPods and podcasts. I started writing as a career. I never stopped applying to radio stations but it seemed to get further and further from my grasp.

Age 27, I walked into a radio station for first time in six years and felt like I had finally come home.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s