There comes a point in any artistic pursuit when you have to pause, and ask yourself – “who am I doing this for?” Is it for me, for my parents, for my cooler-than-me friends? (Is it to earn cooler-than-me-friends?) What, in the shadow self of your mind, is driving your passions? This is especially puzzling when you feel this urge and yet have no materialized passions – passion, sure, but nothing manifest as easily as “music” or “writing” or “celebrity names”, just a fuzzy indifference towards life and some intensity, as yet unidentified, sitting near your middle. That’s how I usually felt.
It was in first year when and I found myself doing a radio show on Trent Radio, 92.7 FM. I’m not exactly sure how it happened.
There is a vague memory in me of sitting in the Great Hall at Champlain, chanting mentally to myself that I was being a ‘brave soldier’ as I tried to get through a cafeteria meal. A friend of mine (for all of the four important weeks since Frosh Week) came in holding a couple sheets of paper in his hand, sat down across from me and said:
“Hey, want to do a radio show with me? I need a co-host.”
He was holding the programme proposal we’d have to fill out if we wanted a show.
“Uh,” I grunted, avoiding some brown-ish thing on my plate. “I don’t know…being on the radio?”
(What I meant by that was – I’m not that cool. That sounds intimidating. Why are you asking me to do intimidating things? I thought you were my friend, not someone who would shove me into intimidating situations. My stomach hurts. I actually don’t feel so -)
“Come on, it’ll be fun, we can do it on STAR TREK! Come ooooon!”
I attempted to dodge the tastes in my mouth as I chewed, and half-listened. I liked Star Trek, but I didn’t consider myself an expert on it. I don’t think my friend considered me an expert, either, just that it was a subject that interested us both. There was merit to this idea. If nothing else, it would be time each week to devote to space, the final frontier.
Perhaps it was an early onset symptom of the food poisoning I endured the next two days in my dorm room in staircase G, groaning in agony on the single-not-quite-single bed. Perhaps it was my predilection to obey the dragging irritant of “Come ooooon!”. Perhaps my decision was fueled by the slight boost pride at being wanted as a co-host. Whatever the case…
“Sure, let’s do that.”
Radio wasn’t a particular passion of mine. I just thought it was neat. I’d had lots of interests that had gotten me nowhere. To be interested in everything, to invest in everything – that works for about two weeks, but then you end up interested in nothing, and doing nothing for the next two months. It seemed like you really had to pay for art, and I was pretty sure it was too expensive for me.
Well, it was happening now anyway, and when it did I took to the radio with chatty nervousness. We talked about Star Trek, a lot. We watched Star Trek, a lot. I don’t know how interested we were in Star Trek before we began this radio show, but by the end of the season we were little miniature experts in four different galactic quadrants. Radio took something I already liked, and made it something I liked even more.
Like friends, sometimes the most intense interests are the ones you didn’t expect. The show ran its course. I learned more about Star Trek than I thought I wanted to know, and before I could catch up with time, it was fall again and into second year, and I was living in an apartment downtown.
I was still doing radio, but it wasn’t as pronounced in my life. The fire in it seemed to be calming before it could really claim them.
Then, partway through the season, the romantic relationship I was in soured, and I found I didn’t really want to go home anymore. In a grand, and not-so-sneaky effort to avoid the drama of my life, I searched frantically to find cool things to do outside my house.
“You could go to class more,” a friend suggested.
Clearly that was a silly idea. Neither was I about to start hanging out on the Bata podium steps, nor in any of the cafeterias – in that case for fear of accidentally ingesting something. There were only so many movies I could watch at the cinema, only so much money I could spend at restaurants with friends. And I thought that if I went home to my parent’s house more, I just might stay. And I didn’t really want that.
At 715 George Street the whole time stood Trent Radio. Here was radio, a nifty thing I could do with my time now that other interests were…closed. I enjoyed it but didn’t feel any particular passion for it, but I felt passion – just, lost somewhere underneath me, indistinct, but real. I didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing, but I knew I was fidgeting with anxiety that I should already be doing it. Whilst fidgeting, I began doing radio in earnest.
This time, it sucked me in. It’s one of those things that you get as much out of as you put into, and when I threw myself into radio is when she really put her hooks in me. Here I finally discovered my greatest passion through the Stockholm Syndrome of radio waves. And suddenly it was okay that I wasn’t at home so much. I felt like I had a home in the community.
I realized that I was actually doing radio for myself – not for listeners, not for my actually-pretty-cool-in-their-own-way friends, and certainly not for hiding. This was something I enjoyed for myself. Radio has this curious habit of taking the things you’re already interested in, you already like, and refining that into a superior passion. And among the new friends, new music, endlessly new topics of conversation – and even a few casual flirtations, I found community.
If you want to get involved in radio too, I’m the Programme Director now. You can send me an email at [email protected], or just come to Trent Radio House, 715 George Street north and get to know the place.
I don’t know exactly what turned my interest, even passing interest, into a full-on passion, into a love of it, into a life. I think the main difference is time spend consistently. That’s really the difference.
Radio hosts do it with frequency.