trent-radio-booth
Pictured: Jack Smye

If your High School experience was anything like mine, I’m sorry. It’s not that I exactly hid in a corner with my face turned away screaming: “Don’t come near me, I’m a leper”, but I was pretty shy. Thank goodness for peer pressure.

Peer pressure gets a bad rap sometimes – what with its drinking and other addiction problems – but it can also be a tool for good. I didn’t have any friends at Trent University when I got here.
I attempted to spend the year in my concrete dorm room, slowly breaking up with my Internet girlfriend in a never ending cycle of long­ distance ache and deniability. But I still – somehow – made friends.

Or rather, they made me. For every campus event there was a friend to drag me there – pub nights, dances, theatre, and even sometimes a thing called “classes”, which I took less seriously than a retrospectively flimsy Internet relationship.

It must not have been easy for my friends to get me to events, because I’m very tall, very difficult, and spent much of it protesting, screaming about leprosy. All the while I was trying to acclimatise.
I was listening to Trent Radio, 92.7 FM and thought: “Pfft. This is lame.” Then, almost immediately after, a friend asked me if I wanted to have a radio show with him. I thought, frozen in fear – the words tumbling from me involuntarily: “They’re way too cool for me.” Obviously I couldn’t be on the radio.

I can hardly talk in class, or to girls, or to the (surprisingly intimidating) lunch lady – how am I supposed to talk on the radio? Public service announcements throughout my childhood said: “Don’t Talk to Strangers”. Strangers are dangerous, and wrong, and if anyone is worth knowing you’ll somehow get to know them anyway. Somehow. I don’t know how I made friends, I was hiding.

Confronted with radio, the urge grew inside me to turn my face to a corner of the cafeteria and scream as people came by: “Don’t come near me, I’m a leper!” Basically, the thing that a moment ago I thought was lame was paradoxically also so intimidating that it was triggering a fight or flight response. Thank goodness for peer pressure. Despite myself a week later I was at Trent Radio House, 715 George St. North, and terrified.Like the gathering of friends, I had no idea how it started, but, somehow, the show happened.

However shy I was, it happened. And as I left the radio booth I noticed the next programmer. She was a short girl, beautiful and dressed to an attractive individual fashion, standing in the corner yelling: “Don’t come near me, I’m a leper!” Okay, that’s not actually what she said – but I could see it in her eyes as she passed.

Our eyes met, our hearts may have exchanged text messages. There may have resulted thus a fiery romance that burned itself out in two weeks when she went back to her Internet boyfriend – that’s not the point!The point is: here I discovered a sense of community.

I thought nothing could compromise my shyness, because that’s just who I am – but you know, 100 other shy people, even if they’re strangers, somehow makes it a little easier. I just had to host “Leper Radio” to make it all happen. So, this fall, come be a part of Trent Radio. Don’t be shy. Talk to strangers.

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Sometime in the 1980s young James Kerr placed a peanut butter sandwich in his parent’s VCR and was transported to a magical world where he was taught by long-dead ghost druids the secrets of community and radio waves. Returning to this world he became an arcade champ, dungeon master, and perhaps most relevantly the Programme Director of Trent Radio 92.7 fm. His parents had to clean the peanut butter out of the VCR.