I remember growing up with the radio. It was long before CD’s, MP3’s, tiny ear buds, and HDTV’s. Vinyl was king, 8 tracks were still around, and cassettes weren’t far away, but the common transistor A.M. radio was the media that connected me to the outside world.
Usually, these small radios had two dials – tuning and volume. I would spend what seemed an eternity trying to tune in a station just right, and then, when I finally found the precise spot, I would crank the volume dial! I found Rock stations, Country stations, and even Jazz stations. Most of the good ones were far away from my town and fresh batteries would be a must to have any success in reaching those far away broadcast frequencies.
There were great DJ’s (a.k.a. Disc Jockies) and radio personalities spinning the tunes that I needed to hear, but the radio memories that remain the most clear to me today were from a station broadcast out of Chicago, Illinois. For reasons unknown to me – maybe atmospheric conditions or cloud cover – my tiny little A.M. radio could not always connect with Chicago, but when it did, my ears were tuned in and my imagination was inspired!
Late, late at night, I was taken to a world of storytelling and inspiration, with old school sound effects and a B3 organ. The show was produced by a Gospel Mission in Chicago and would tell stories of heart break and redemption, betrayal and forgiveness, the spiral into darkness and the uplifting to the light. I would often fall asleep listening to the actors play out the sounds of their drama while my mind’s eye created the images to go along. Sweet dreams would follow close behind as I drifted beyond my small town problems and concerns.
An aspect of radio from those days that I never really appreciated until recently was that each station told the story of their town, the story of their own local community. Through local entertainers, local news and events, and even through local advertising, the listener would learn so much about the community. Bonds were built and connections were strengthened through the work of local community radio stations. This truth had not garnered any attention from me until I recently began working for a local community radio station right here in Lexington, SC.
As I think back to those dreams of my childhood and drifting away to the tunes and dramas from far away broadcasters, I realize that I’ve always had the dream to experience the world of radio, from the inside out. And that dream is coming true with the opportunities I am getting to host, report, and record for our community through our local community radio station. We don’t reach all the way to Chicago, but I hope my work here might help to inspire, encourage, strengthen, and build bonds with folks that choose to dial us in and crank up the volume!