A blog about writing . . . and a lot of other things

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Ode to the Radio Personality

Sometimes it's the person who gives you the news and chats with you first thing in the morning.  You've just been ripped awake and haven't had your coffee or your breakfast yet.  You're so fragile, and this person is able to help ease your way to wakefulness and help you get to work instead of climbing back into bed or driving your car off a bridge.

Sometimes it's the people who help you unwind on your drive home, telling you jokes and playing some tunes and allowing you to decompress after a long day of work.  Your coworkers were annoying, your project is behind schedule, your client hates you, traffic is so jammed that you might never make it home, but it's okay because the deejays are funny and the music is just what you needed.

Sometimes it's the person chatting you to sleep late at night, helping you to feel less alone.  Whether it's with stories of other people's sad love lives or calls about space aliens, you know that you're doing better than somebody.

I enjoy listening to the radio.  I love discovering new pop songs (and then wishing they would please, please stop playing them).  I like hearing the news in thirty seconds.  I especially like radio personalities.  They become like amusing friends who don't expect much out of me.  Sure, they try to sell me stuff, but so have some of my real friends.

So it makes me incredibly sad when they disappear.  Radio personalities, unlike other public figures, will be let go without notice and without any announcement to their listeners.  Over the years there have been so many times when I turned on my radio expecting to hear the same person I've been hearing for years, and it's different.  And different is not what I'm looking for.

The result is one of three things:

  • Music!  Lots of music!  We're better than all those other stations because we play hours and hours of non-stop music! Why?  Because in the interests of cost-cutting we fired all of our deejays and lost all our sponsorships, but we're not going to tell you that.  We've just changed our format to be more music for you, the listener, because we love you!
  • Hi, I'm a new voice from somewhere back east.  I know absolutely nothing about the Portland Metro area, and I'm laughing at my own jokes because they've got me all alone in this room, but I'm going to do my very best because they cut my show that I used to do back east where people knew me and loved me. 
  • Syndicated show from Los Angeles.  You are getting the same canned entertainment that is being played on 800 other stations around the country.  Hope you didn't want any local news.  Hope there aren't any local emergencies.  
Regardless, there's absolutely no mention of what happened to the people the radio station has been using as the face of their product for the last few years.  They're just gone.  They've stopped existing.  And in this age of one company owning a huge chunk of the airwaves, it's hard to get anyone to admit anything even changed.  

Lately there have been some "changes" taking place at a local radio station.  I just heard about yet another radio personality who is joining all the others who have been shown the door over the last few weeks.  I know nothing about why or how because no one is allowed to talk.   

None of them will probably ever read this blog post, but I still want to say that when these people disappear from the airwaves, I notice.  I enjoyed listening, I miss them, and I wish them well, wherever they might land.

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