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Monday, March 20, 2006

Radio Days 

Here's a radio story more in the realm of being dooced than permission slips on hands. It's part of the introductory editorial for the new supplement/magazine I was working on last week, part of what kept me so crazy and near 過労死.
I remember when I first became aware of the physics that govern radio broadcasting. Growing up in southeastern Louisiana, my favorite radio station was WTIX(AM) in New Orleans, about 85 kilometers from my home, mostly through the Manchac Swamp. Each night when its operating power halved, the clear signal I could hear during the day disappeared.

I was only 8 or 9 years old and, while my father explained that some radio stations operated at lower power when it got dark, I never could quite understand why the AM dial sounded so different when the stars were out.

What I did discover, after my bedtime as I slowly tuned my way across the dial, was that I could hear lots of other, strange stations that were not on the dial during the day — Chicago, Pittsburgh, Nashville. Sometimes the voices would even be in French, either from a Cajun station in southwestern Louisiana or from Québec.
And the rest of it gets into things that belong in my work product and not my blog ...

Actually, it's an odd thing for me to have written for a publication, in large part because I've resisted putting any sort of "From the Editor" column into the books I work on. I don't particularly like the "cult of the editor" that some magazines/trade papers have, and I tend to be a bit adverse to promoting myself (q.v. public speaking) as it is, but this was the launch of a new product and it needed some sort of introduction for the reader.

The morning I wrote it, I had the alarm set for around 3:30 a.m. so I could get to work early to try to get everything that needed doing finished. I woke before the buzzer started and as I was laying in bed for some reason I flashed on the memory of being in bed as a kid and hearing a station ID itself as being from Pittsburgh. I was sure that I'd misheard, but it turns out I hadn't. Working from that memory, the column took shape.

Actually, I spewed about 15 minutes worth of radio-related memories, notes, and sentence fragments into my voice recorder while driving to work (probably only the second time I've used it in that manner). In the end, I only used that original memory (although if the second issue needs an editorial/intro I may mine that audio for ideas) and about 150 words about me for the edit; the other 200 words or so were all the magazine and subscription information.

The other thing about this is I wonder how much my closing in on three years of blogging has pushed away my aversion to writing in first person. Maybe it was a crutch, but I always hated writing about me and my life, but that's what 95% of my blog is — even if much of the time I'm just a supporting character in a story about Celeste.

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