The Freelance Mentalists.
Monday, November 01, 2004
 
There are few moments in my life that are etched in my brain more than my firsthand experience with radio making. Apart from the few recollections that are just memories of told stories, my first few seconds behind a microphone in a dingy radio booth are proof of why I will always love radio more than any other medium. It enabled me to overcome my insecurities. If I messed up, the error had already evaporated into thin air. It was all about the present and, of course, the music. The focus was never on me, only the song that came before or after my mumbling ad-lib. Sure, blogging is/can be close to the improv style dj-ing of radio (if you are inclined that way). You should be, blogging has never been about permanent thoughts stamped on a screen, it's poetry in motion. But that's a whole other story. So, anyway, back to those few delirious seconds. The moment my friend threw something - a GBV boxset maybe - against the glass to get me talking, radio as I loved it was already dying. After a few weeks of doing the show the guy running the station had struck a deal with a commercial radio chain. Feh. Luck (???) had it that I was invited to do a show at the new station. Apparently I had a pleasant voice. Gone were the days that I could compile my own lists. I had to follow a track list. After a few shows slipping in the occasional indie single in between Michael Jackson and Celine Dion, I just quit. Commercial radio is devoid of anything human: There are no slip-ups, just computer programs spitting out the perfect lists. Add to that the deejay doesn't really need to know anything. In the words of former Studio Brussel boss, Jan Hautekiet, the computer does the show, the dj just needs to talk two songs together. So why would I (you) listen to the radio or make a program? The time when I listened to Radio One to discover what was new, what to look out for or avoid, are just a sepia tinged memory. Radio is not meant to educate, just to fill the silent walls. So yes, on a personal level radio is dead because I am getting too old to muster up the energy to force Helen Fordsdale or Who Loves The Sun onto some poor souls who happened to find my radioshow. But then switching on the radio - from the other side - I discover that even stations like Studio Brussel have changed their format trying to go for broadness instead of specialized/genre shows. I know I am just a grumpy cynic who refuses to accept change. Whatever, as with everything else it goes in cycles. I'll probably be deaf from listening to too much Slayer when the tides turns.
 
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