Mild Traumas

by Courtney Henning | 5/1/98 5:00am

Last Saturday I had Coca-Cola and jazz for breakfast -- a drastic deviation from my standard Lucky Charms and milk. Nonetheless, this "meal" was appropriate since my friend Abbey and I are now doing a Saturday morning radio show on the AM station. The Coke shot sugar right into my bloodstream while the jazz massaged my generally academically-geared mind. Granted, I was slightly hungry, but I can deal with a few hunger pangs.

Hunger aside, the radio station frightens me. There's all these levers and buttons, and I'm concerned that if I push the wrong gizmo, the system will self-destruct -- like the bad guys' ship in "Spaceballs." Abbey received the radio training, and so in my eyes, she is the radio goddess. Abbey says, "Courtney, turn the record player on," and I answer, "Yes, master."

Yet despite my lack of training, I now know more about the radio then I thought possible. Abbey abandoned me for ten minutes last Saturday (it felt like an eternity), and I managed to play two commercials and switch to a new record without destroying Robo. And by God, I did not learn any of this in a classroom. No textbooks, no lectures, and I'll be damned if I'm going to take a midterm.

I'm learning from experience. For example, last weekend I nearly pressed a button which looked innocent enough, but as I went to press this innocent button, Abbey gasped, "No, not that one!" If I had pressed this button, I would have stolen FM's radio waves, and anyone who may have been listening at that time would have gotten a big dose of Courtney-generated dead air. Fortunately, tragedy was averted, and I now know that the innocent button is really an evil button in disguise.

There are a lot of mild traumas involved in learning how to do a radio show. For awhile, Abbey and I could not get the record player to work. The player operated just fine when not on the air, but as soon as we attempted to play a record on the air, the machine made a dying noise something to the effect of "BUU-woe-aaaaa." Yet when such a crisis arises, we don't sit down and cry. You can't cry when you're on the air. Instead, Abbey turns on the emergency CD while I glare at the offending appliance. (Unfortunately, appliances don't respond to glares. Not even evil glares.)

The emergency CD is a wonderful concept. The Jazz Masters album, Stan Getz or Louis Armstrong is always cued up in the second CD player. If a record player dies or a commercial refuses to play, Abbey and I calmly resort to a well-loved song. I wish the emergency CD applied to all aspects of life. For instance, I could have used an emergency Anthro paper last term. Heck, I know a lot of people who could have used emergency papers last term.

Besides gaining knowledge in the ways of the radio, I have also been immersed in jazz. Last week, Abbey and I had at least 50 albums scattered around the room; we even found a jazz version of Star Wars (really bad). We turned the studio into "a scandal of records," but despite the mess, I felt truly relaxed. Although I constantly stress about punching the wrong button, and we despise the chaos we create, the radio is like therapy.

Abbey the librarian enjoys indulging in a little chaos, and I have to focus so much on not messing up that I can't stress about my psych reading or my economics problem set. I find this concentration to be more refreshing than the two hours of sleep that I'm missing.

The traumas I have endured thus far on the radio demonstrate to me that things are never as evil as you assume they will be. I always expect a foul demon to spring from the record player, but this has yet to occur. Every crisis gets resolved, and I'm learning along the way. For starters, Abbey and I have sworn to eat breakfast before going to the show this Saturday. Coca-Cola may be sweet, but pancakes at Lou's are always better.