Sometimes, everything goes perfectly. For the guy on the radio, I mean.
The scene: A chilly, wind-whipped night in whichever urban dystopia is most convenient for you to mentally conjure. Rain beats mercilessly at the inch-thick soundproof glass that protects the studio from audible intrusions just beyond its border: the shouting homeless man, the post office loading dock, the rowdy drunks from the bar down the street. The studio's lights are dimmed in such a way that most of the host's tasks are being performed by the glow of a computer monitor and the dancing output meters on the broadcast board. In the corner, a freshly cracked bomber of Hennepin has already left a ring of condensation on the dirty table which also offers a broken strobe lamp, an ornamental Mexican day of the dead figurine, and a fourteen-year-old copy of Factsheet 5 magazine.
Oh yeah, the monitor volume is cranked somewhere north of what most people would call an incomprehensible level. It is just after 8 PM, the first song of the show is ending in less than 60 seconds, and I have no idea what I'm going to play next. In my opinion, this is the setting from which the most personally satisfying freeform radio programs most often unfurl, and I'm pleased to announce that the 30 minutes of programming that comprised the opening shot of my most recent fill-in did exactly that. I'm not saying it was great, I'm saying it was personally satisfying. There's a big difference, and the distinction is important to call attention to because my role was fairly simple. Given the same five records, a monkey probably could've eventually come up with something similar, but what I'm getting at is the excitement factor. I love doing radio because I'm excited about music and art, and the ways in which they are connected (if in fact, they aren't identical concepts to begin with.) I like it when the listener feels the same way.
The radio I love listening to has always been made at the hands of people who seem genuinely in love with what they're doing, and who have a great time while doing it. Maybe you feel the same way as a listener, or maybe as a former broadcast junkie yourself. Maybe you still have tapes of the obnoxious DJ from the local college station you listened to when you were in high school, or maybe you secretly think that Edwin Howard Armstrong was among the greatest American heroes of the 20th Century. If that's the case, I'm hopeful that you won't mind my bending your ear for the next half hour while you continue to make your way around the internet. Links to the show's accompanying playlist and other potential spoilers have been left out intentionally so as to maintain the curiosity factor that's implied with unknown sounds. Some of the best songs I've ever heard on the radio are ones I've never tracked down, or even discovered who they were performed by. In spite of the frustration, that's a mystery which I think is well worth maintaining.
Listen: [Streaming Real Audio]