Monday, May 22, 2006

Connections

From the age of eight, I was fascinated with radio - and I always wanted to work at a radio station. I would spend countless hours late at night with my AM transistor radio, scanning the dial from left to right and back to left ... searching to see what stations I could hear from far-away lands. I'd hear powerhouses like CKLW out of Windsor/Detroit, WABC out of NYC, and a series of other lesser-known stations from all over the eastern half of America.

In fact, this entry expresses just how important radio was to me as a kid.

I've always been impressed with the power of media. As host of Q'zine, a queer radio program on WXPN, I see first hand just how vital a program like that is to LGBTQ youth ... even in this information age.

When I was a young teen, my first connection to someone like myself was through the radio. While the country celebrated its independence in 1976, my personal independence was just being discovered. It was spring 1976 and I remember stumbling upon two men in conversation on the FM dial. They mentioned the word 'gay' and I was hooked. Turns out the show was "Sunshine Gaydreams" and it was a radio show for and about the developing gay community. It was broadcast on WXPN.

Four years later, I wound up doing a guest stint on WXPN, as part of their new wave/punk programming. Twelve years after finding a gay voice on the radio, I began to actually work at that same radio station ... and twenty years from that fateful Sunday in spring when I discovered that I was not alone, I was asked to host that same program.

Grant it the format, style, and program name, have changed over time - but it was a humbling experience for me to come full circle ... and even today I hear from queer youth who have found me through the darkness and are just as grateful as I was thirty years ago this season.

In fact, recently I got this email from an 18 year-old:

hey OMG i love your show, i listen to it all the time, ummmmmm lets see... it got me turned on to Rufus Wainright like YEAH! thanks to u i now also listen to ShimmerPlanet, awesome people! well it's funny there was this guy [u] talkin on the radio and he was sayin like how theres probably young people out there who are gay who listen to it secretly, and i was like holy shit thats me, I love what u do for our community, it's help me to fight the hatred against people who fear somethin new. Well OMG i just really have to say you have made a huge impact in my life once i get a job [he he] hopefuly i'll donate some money. whatever i can help with if there are any internships available please let me know. thanks Robert, i appreciate it. Thanks!
The power of radio.

1 comment:

brandy101 said...

How cool that you are helping young people! That email must've made you grin from ear to ear...maybe even get a bit misty? Congrats on doing such a great job!