When I was growing up, we got maybe 4 radio stations from the nearby cities. Until I moved away at 18, those radio stations were my lifeblood. You could find me constantly scouring for new music to buy and talking about the DJs like they were my best friends. While in college, I got a life and drifted away from my love of radio, but when I got to Colorado and learned what a “commute” was, I started listening to the radio for a different purpose – it was where I got all my news, and of course the traffic reports.
Then I lost my hearing. There was a period of a couple of months where I couldn’t really hear anything at all, but once I started getting a little hearing back I started driving into Boulder for work again. My drive was completely silent, but at least I had that amazing view every day. I felt so out of touch with the world. I had my internet communities, and started relying on my friends on text-based bbses to give me the news (kind of like how I rely on Facebook these days!). One of those days I drove into work in silence, without turning on the TV or looking at the Internet before I left, was 9/11/2001. Never have I missed the radio in my car like I did that day. When I got to work, I still didn’t know anything was wrong – it was 8am Mountain Time, so everything had already happened by that point. There was a TV in the lobby, which I thought was weird, but no captions, so I didn’t stop to watch. I went on with my day, until my system administrator came in and told me I had to leave (it was a Federal building) and explained to me in crude made-up signs and very slow speech what had happened. Never did I miss the radio more.
Fast forward to living in Indiana. There had been one radio station in Denver that I liked because they played mostly 80s music and had a traffic reporter I could mostly understand, but I didn’t find that at all in Indiana. There’s a station that does all 80s weekends, so I listen to them when I’m in the car on weekends, but that’s about it.
Last week, that all changed. It hadn’t really occurred to me to try listening to the radio in the car, feeling like it would just depress me because I still wouldn’t be able to understand. I had seen on Twitter that Jay Michaels, one of my Twitter buddies, was going to be the morning DJ on 93.9 The Beat for the week. Why not give him a try? And I did. And I could understand. I must have been hilarious, crying in my car while rapping along with MC Hammer. I listened to Jay the rest of the week – because I could.
I had my first commute of the week this morning, and ended up sitting in traffic longer than usual (these days I rely on Google to send traffic notices to my phone – I got today’s too late to get off the highway). So I decided to try something new. I thought that if I could understand Jay, who I’ve never heard talk before, I should be able to understand other people too. So up and down the dial I went, with the goal of finding Indiana Public Radio (I don’t think I ever found it). I stopped on a station where a bunch of people were talking. It took me a minute, but I figured out that they were talking about the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and classical musicians who had recently won awards. I didn’t get names, but I got everything else. On the radio. In the car.
When they started playing music, I was almost to work. They played, and I know this because I understood them say what it was, Mozart’s Symphony No. 30. It was beautiful. I heard it like I’ve never heard music before, and it moved me. I used to have a great love for classical music, especially during my college years, which somehow I had forgotten. I sat in the parking lot at work listening until it was over. When I look back on this experience, that (along with “U Can’t Touch This”, thanks Jay!) will be the piece of music that reminds me of when it all started coming together.
Here’s something I never thought I would say – I’m really looking forward to my commute tomorrow. I’m starting to fall in love with radio again. I can’t wait to hear more.