I’m a radio rat.
When I started working in the medium – and this was shortly after dinosaurs ruled the Earth – there was no internet, no multi-track digital editing. Remote interviews? Yes, we could do that. But only if we could get the person being interviewed into a studio with ISDN lines which cost thousands of dollars. Otherwise, it was a phone interview, and usually the connection was so bad it would have made Alexander Graham Bell and Guglielmo Marconi say, “Wow, that sounds like crap.”
I was still working in radio when all that began to change. “Here comes the digital revolution!”, cried those with their eyes on the future.
“Harrumph!”, replied most of the old-timers like me, who slipped their grease pencils, splice tape and razor blades into a box in their desks for safe keeping. “This too shall pass.”
It didn’t. And slowly – and by slowly, I’m talking about glacier speed – elder radio rats like me began to get it. This WAS going to change everything, and for the better. Not to say that change happened overnight, or that we couldn’t make good radio before. But little by little, everything did change. We could reach out to people to create content, to share content, to inspire and be inspired by one another.
Sound familiar? Yes, Fairelanders know the rest of that particular story very well. We connect with, share with , inspire and are inspired by one another. And we do it from all parts of the globe. Instantly. Magically. Eternally.
When Ember Farina, Lauren Thibaud and I started the Faire, we didn’t know if anyone was actually going to show up. The first Faire was a leap of faith, and a scary one to boot! I remember watching the World Map when Ember threw open the doors for the first time.
One green dot. Two. Ten. Fifty. Five hundred! They just kept appearing. And they have never stopped. For this 2016 Faire we had ten thousand green dots show up. How do we know that? Because that is how many unique listeners tuned in to the Fairelands’ own dedicated, community based radio station: Fantasy Faire Radio.
Twenty five DJs took the stream in 2016. They spun the soundtrack of the Faire. And like Fairelanders at large, they did it from all parts of the world we share. They reached into our deepest hearts, made us want to dance, to give, to linger for “just one more set!” in our beloved realms. Many more gave us interviews that formed the basis for our Public Service Announcements. No expensive ISDN lines needed! We have Skype for that now. And the quality of their signals and their words would have made Misters Bell and Marconi ask, “Who dat hidin’ behind my curtains?!”
We told stories. We reported news. We took a world that looks beautiful but has no voice and we gave it a voice. Your voice.
Yes, yours. Because even if you didn’t speak aloud over the Fantasy Faire Radio stream, it was your story – your very important story – that we have labored to tell. We’ve used the best of cutting edge tech to tell the old tales, indeed the oldest. There have been radio rats since the first tales were told around campfires. And they labored long in their studios for the same reason we do so to this day. Because something amazing just happened, and they wanted – no NEEDED – to get it right. To tell it to the best of their abilities, and to use every tool at their disposal to do so.
We owe a debt to that past. But the best way to pay it is to keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible.
The other day, while cleaning out the desk here in Studio Z in preparation for the Faire, I came across an old box. I knew what it was the minute I saw it and I hesitated long before lifting the lid and peering at the contents within.
A grease pencil. Splice tape and a razor blade. Relics of a now ancient past. I stared at them for a long moment. And then I tossed it all in the trash. Radio rats tend not to be sentimental. There is too much work to be done to make deadline. Too many stories still to tell. Too many voices to be heard from. We don’t have time for nostalgia. We make radio and radio is about now, this now, this glorious shared now. What is past is prologue. So…
I’m not going to say, “And that’s it for us here in the Studio.” That’s not true at all. We’re just getting started. And as a radio rat from way-back-when, I look forward to what comes next. And I know it will not slip past me unnoticed. Because the show must go on. The Faire goes on. And as ever, your station will be there to report on it. So let me get this sign-off right. Here it is:
We’ll be right back after this brief intermission…