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Makers of Memories posted on October 4th, 2021

Makers of Memories

By Brian Wheeler

“The words I’d say
Don’t seem to sound as real
The songs they play
That’s how I really feel

So, listen to the radio”

Listen To The Radio – Don Williams

Some of my most profound memories stem from experiences with my early radio listening. Long before I cracked a mic, took tower readings, or spliced tape, I listened to countless hours of radio programming.

My first clear recollection of radio listening was as a 4-year-old child in Lawton, Oklahoma. It was a very hot summer. The cicadas were deafening. The summer swelter was nearly unbearable. We’d listen to the radio when the heat inevitably brought on powerful summer storms, huddling near and listening for tornado warnings. My family was affected by two tornadoes in one summer. One of them blew the windows right out of our house. We received warning of that tornado minutes earlier on the radio. That was when I first experienced the power of radio.

I also remember the comforting voice of the announcer. I remember the familiar artists of the day; Glen Campbell, Waylon and Wille, Conway Twitty, Tammy Wynette, Ronnie Milsap, Merle Haggard, Freddy Fender. The list was long and strong. Radio had a grip on me very early.

I was given an old tube radio by my uncle when I moved back to Minnesota. The warm glow emanating from the radio as I tuned in stations near and far made me feel part of something bigger than myself. I spent most evenings listening to baseball games, countdown shows, and hilarious radio bits that sounded spontaneous and chaotic. I still have dozens of cassette tapes recorded from the radio. They are my personal time capsule.

Hearing songs for the first time was one of my favorite experiences. I remember having my mind blown hearing Mr. Roboto for the first time. I remember the first time I heard Sir Duke and how that song demanded that I dance, or at least smile. Sometimes I’d wonder how the artist was able to make such wonderful noises? Sometimes I wondered how the artist knew exactly how I felt. I remember hearing Weird Al Yankovic and shortly thereafter discovered Dr. Demento. Through it all, the voice coming from the radio guided me on my journey. These and countless other experiences are indelibly etched in my mind. They are precious to me and have had a hand in shaping who I am.

So the next time you schedule a log, prepare a break, or craft a bit, keep in mind that you’re creating memories and shaping your listeners. Young or old, what you do on the radio is having an impact in people’s lives. It’s not rocket science. It’s not brain surgery. But it IS important.