If someone would have told me a year ago that I would have real radio experience after starting college as a journalism major, I would have laughed out loud and went on my merry way. Yet here I sit, ready to start my second year of school, and I can't help but reflect on the past years of my life, and how they led to where I am now.
Radio is just one of those things there is no substitute for. Sure, we all have our phones with music streaming out our ears, but it's not radio, no matter how hard it tries to be. And for someone like myself who is low vision, radio was my TV, a place to see familiar personalities, a place to enjoy sports, radio dramas, and to listen to more music than should probably be legal.
I got my first boombox on my 9th birthday, and from then on, I was glued to it day and night, listening to country, talk radio, public radio and anything I could pick up, trying to learn about the world through dials and knobs, and even still, a bit beat up and dusty, that same boombox lives next to my bed, a broken tape player with AM FM radio still intact, and, the most important part of the whole set, the CD player, still clicking along. My first CDs were Allen Jackson and Carrie Underwood, artists I still love today. This was at a time where new CDs cost upwards of $20 apiece. For some, that may seem like I'm young, but now, that medium really doesn't exist anymore with streaming services being as prevalent as they are. And yes, before anyone else asks, I love and use Spotify just as much as anyone else, so yes, I'm guilty of my own crime.
But radio has and will hold a place in my heart. I had the chance to meet one of the personalities of a local station the other day, and it made me remember the days when morning shows were run by human beings rather than computers, I was even on the radio a few times growing up. And for me, it was amazing, because let's say you see someone from TV that you watch. They may look different than you expect them to, whereas when you meet someone from radio, they still have the same voice, you really can only change that so much. And with each voice comes a personality, someone you come to trust, and those people I listened to leap to the forefront of my mind as I write this.
So, my Freshman year of college, when the opportunity to take a radio prac class, a practical class in real radio, presented itself, I decided to do it, and it was easily the best decision I made my first year of college. I learned about more than just the class, got real experience, and learned a lot along the way.
As the semester progressed, so did my confidence in my ability to be an on-air personality, playing DJ on Saturday afternoons, as well as tailgating before football games with other members of our executive board. It is here that I learned about the true value of spirit, the fact that our football team did so well doesn't hurt one bit, as our mascot frequented our place in the parking lot. And of course, there was a running play by play broadcast live, so I knew the players well enough by the end of the season to understand stats and numbers, following our team until an unfortunate defeat in the playoffs that people still really don't want to talk about.
During second semester, things got rough for me. I went through some ups and some downs, but the two constant things were a best friend and a radio station. My show grew to something more, where I was able to host guests and talk about different aspects of campus life, and also, I had a show talking about books with a friend. Both went better than I could have hoped for, though both at the same time was a lot of work.
From football games and alternative tunes, to talking with friends and learning about how the field is played, radio has taught me much after just a year, and I hope it continues to do so this next year. I will be Assistant Promotions Director at 91.7 The Edge, and I encourage you to check it out. It's a great student run station that has made a difference in my life, and we appreciate those that listen. So, break away from the mainstream stations and try something new, just as I did, and give us a listen sometime!