“There’s something about a radio station.”
I’ve used that phrase before and recall it now, the special feeling that a broadcast environment can engender in its practitioners.
I was a radio news guy once, and I felt a special sense of entitlement when able to walk around — not just “my” newsroom and the air studio, but the distant nooks of a fascinating broadcast powerhouse.
I remember roaming radio station halls after hours, when the sales and business offices stood empty but the on-air music kept on playing, audible to me through ceiling speakers wherever I went in the darkened facility. Listening, I knew that thousands of other people were hearing those songs along with me, despite my apparent solitude. Isn’t that part of radio’s true power, how the medium combines the sense of many with the sense of one?
I recall peering at the mysterious transmitters in the crowded back room, glowing in the dark through their small glass ports, those harnessed beasts of burden fed in daylight by guys named Scotty, Bill and Joe who might be absent at night yet always felt present during these quiet walks.
I have memories of sitting in a darkened production room, fascinated by the meters and the colored lights, and then of walking up the small backstairs, opening a door to the outside and looking up at the friendly yet lonely tower lights, blinking slowly, reassuringly, way up there against the night sky.
I’m thrust into these reveries by the photograph above, which was sent to me by our friend and contributor Jim Withers.
He emailed me: “I was down at my station doing some emergency transmitter work (‘emergency’ is probably redundant … isn’t it always an emergency?). My brother John Withers took the attached pic, which I thought was great. Captures the solitude of working at a remote site in the dark, while everyone else is getting ready to cash it in for the night.”
I like this photo very much. How would you caption this? Do you have a photo, old or new, that captures the romance, distills what you love about radio? Send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can share it with your fellow radio working stiffs.