Saturday, June 7, 2008


There's a certain magic in my line of work, radio, that most people find interesting. They want to know about requests, who picks the music, how we decide what to play and who decides, how to win prizes ("I can never get through" or "I was caller 8 and you wanted 9" are common complaints), and do we listen to that type of music at home?

I frequently give tours of the station to groups like scouts or guides or church youth groups. It starts with an explanation that radio is a business, like a store, where we have to make money in order to stay on the air, to the traffic department which looks after "commercial" traffic on air and billing, to creative and production where commercials are written and produced and ends upstairs around the on air and news studios. The whole thing can take an hour or more depending on the questions asked by the kids and quite often by the adults. And I often begin by saying that like magic, if they know how it's done, it may not be so fascinating anymore, and are they still sure they want to know? Will they promise to still think radio is cool? Yes, they always answer to both.

Another task I am asked to take care of is to have a student, usually high school age, sit in with me for a couple of hours to see what it's all about . They have a long list of questions to ask me about the job and then I take them to another department for a while to see things running there.

Most of the time, the kids are interested in radio because it's got a high "cool" factor. Some are interested because of the music, thinking that we get to play whatever we want (!!) and some are there because their parent knows someone here and suggested it to them. The kids are generally quiet, a little shy around all the new people, but polite as they ask their questions and scribble down the answers on the sheet of paper they brought with them. Some of them lose interest when they discover it's not all rock stars and fun and games. This is actually work!

I don't remember most of the kids I meet because it's for such a short time, but a few have stayed with me, one in particular who came in a few months ago.

Jessica is a bubbly, bright, and cute-as-a-button grade 11 student. She's got personality and then some and is definitely a force to be reckoned with. She wants to do so many things and all at once, which reminds me sooooooooooo much of someone I know well (me-though I'm not half as cute as Jessica). Her questions for me were thoughtful and her interest NEVER waned; her eyes never glazed over.

Jessica is interested in a career in the media. She loves public speaking and journalism. Two of the questions kids often ask is "How do I get into radio (or the media in general)? How do I prepare for journalism school?" Jessica asked both of course. My suggestion is always to become a reporter for your school paper, yearbook, or any publication in your community. Keep journals and write something every day. It doesn't have to be Pulitzer prize winning material. It's simply a way to exercise that muscle between your ears. And to Jessica, I suggested writing a blog.

All you bloggers out there know that there are days when you just don't post something for any number of reasons. Or you think, no one's reading my blog, no one's interested. Or you need the confidence to build up a little bit before you start telling the world that you're on the interweeb, something I kept to myself for a month or so.

Jessica began her blog about a month ago, but only told me about it yesterday. She has two entries so far, but she has begun. I am so proud of this young lady I could just spit.

I don't have children and never will. I have never really wanted to be a parent. But I have been a teacher of sorts over the years, tutoring kids when I was in high school, and teaching adult literacy until a few years ago. One of my favourite activites has been speaking to Occupational Therapy students about MS. I enjoy high schoolers and college age students because of the light bulb moments I am witness to. It's a gas to watch kids grow up and come to realizations. Even kids of close friends are a source of this learning for me to watch.

So it is with great delight that I am to be witness to Jessica's learning. She's picked up an important lesson recently and I know that as Jessica grows as a human being, she will look back with fondness (and perhaps a little embarrassment) at her maturation process.

I am posting part of her latest blog entry here about her and her friend Friedel running for student council. I told Jessica that after a few more posts I'll put her on my blogroll:

Then there was the dreaded results day. We were all put into a room and the student council committee leader read off the results and gave us our grading sheets. Friedel and I lost, but she said that we could compare our sheets. When we looked at the other candidates sheets, we realized we had won the student vote, but because Friedel went to Thailand and did not bring home a note for his 58 missing classes, we got disqualified. I was upset, just because we had tried so hard and we had wanted to do it for such a long time, but now I know it was for the best. I was watching Oprah one night and I had seen this thing called the O ambassadors. It's a joint project of Oprah's Angel network and Free The Children, getting high school students to help fight world poverty and other various world issues. I seen that and I said right away: "I have to be a part of that!" I have only two goals in life: 1. impact at least one persons life for the better and 2.) too try and make a difference in the world. I feel very strongly about trying to end world poverty. We are a well off country and we just stand by while a rising number of people in other countries die daily because of malnutrition and diseases, when we as a whole can do things to end this crisis. so, I found out all the information I could about this program and presented it to our school administrator and my idea was accepted! For next year, I get to run the program and host a huge assembly at the beginning of the year promoting my program! I am extremely ecstatic!!

It just goes to show that everything works out for a reason.


It sure does, Jessica.




One aspect of teaching students one-on-one and for many years that I truly enjoy is having a front row seat to the maturing of intelligent, thoughtful, expressive, and disciplined young musicians. When a student starts to 'get it', whether it's how to problem solve or how to elicit the desired emotional response, I get all proud inside.

I have witnessed several little buggy creatures (young students) weave themselves up in cocoons to ruminate and mature, to finally break through the strong bonds (sometimes with a bloody mess), to emerge and dry themselves off, stretch their beautiful wings (and minds) and take to the air in free flight. Ok, maybe that's trying to be a little too metaphorically descriptive. But it does feel free and grand when a student takes over the direction of his/her own playing and it able to do it effectively. It's fun to see them grow so.

Thanks for telling us a little more about your little butterflies.

Shauna said...

Be as metaphorically descriptive as you like. I enjoy it. And you're right. It's fun to see them grow.