Anne Silberman writes:
These conversations happened out of the blue and quite
naturally (usually when I mentioned what I used to do for a living) but
they've added up to something meaningful for me. When I was on the air,
it was natural for me to think of the listeners as a collective. A group
who were fans of the music on the station. I had a job to do and it
was nice knowing that there were folks out there listening. While I was
rarely a "big personality" on the station, I did some promotions and
appearances, and did my best to be kind and respectful of the listeners
who showed up to get a bumper sticker and say "hi". But, perhaps I
always kept my emotional distance from them.
Since I've been off
of the air and living down from the clouds, I have been able to witness
the loyalty of the listener from afar. What has struck me most is how
people truly identify with a station.
I see the looks of pride in their
faces, when they mention a particular morning-show host or the music
programmed. This happens whether the person is a fan of Country music,
pop or adult alternative.
They mention their station, and a 'secret
smile' appears on their face - like they are having a special memory,
that makes them feel 'at one' with a larger force. They go "inside of
themselves", for a second, and then come back to the conversation. What
is it about radio that makes such an intimate connection with people?
The voices and music enter their heads and mingle with their own world
and thoughts in a way that TV or the Internet doesn't seem to do. Even
today, with the on-air product, so pre-packaged in many ways, it still
happens. These people have formed a real relationship with their radio
friends and when one of them is suddenly gone, they feel a real loss.
Harrisburg, PA, where I grew up, a friend still talked about a DJ who
had been fired from a Christian station a year ago. This can't be taken
Maybe, as a kid, I used to have that secret smile, too,
when I thought of WKBO, the station I grew up with.
30 years later, I
can still remember all of the names of the DJs on that station AND their
day parts! "Alexander in the Morning", "Slim Jim Buchannan", "John St.
John" and "Big Jim Roberts" were as much a part of my teenage years as
my friends and their cars.
Probably got into radio because just
listening to it made me feel like I was part of something great.
makes me so sad when I tune into a station and I hear listless
voice-tracking and generic promos and station IDs. If the Program
directors and corporate-controlled programmers could only see the faces
of the people, as they were describing the station, I think the world
would be a better place. 27 seconds to talk up a record might not be
enough to connect!
I just wanted to write this to somebody who'd understand. Thanks, Jaye, for letting me vent.
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