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A Degree I Do Not Use

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Me, 1981

Me, 1981

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Communications-Mass Media, specifically Radio & TV Broadcasting.

I have never used it.

People ask me why. I have always dodged the question.

Why would you ask someone that? It is just pointing out that I failed. How, I’m not sure. But that question still makes me feel like a failure. It is like a big gray cloak being pulled over me.  It suffocates me.

My mom probably hates me for not using my degree. But she was the one who made me go to stupid college in the first place. If I was going to be there for 4 years, I wanted to do something fun.

I was a fan of many local DJ’s at the time. While I was still in high school, I even got to be on the most popular local radio station for an hour and pick all the songs. I thought the Universe was telling me this was my thing.

Me on "Look Ma, I'm on KISS-FM", 92.5 WVKS Toledo, 1994

Me on “Look Ma, I’m on KISS-FM”, 92.5 WVKS Toledo, 1994

None of my college projects turned out perfect. I got A’s on most of them. But there was always something about the audio quality or length or lighting or editing that bothered me about every project I did. I wasn’t used to not being perfect in school.

Four years later, after spending time on half-broken, analog equipment, I didn’t feel like my college had actually prepared me for the real world. I didn’t feel confident I could walk into a radio station and operate their board. And the college gave me no assistance in finding a job.

Laryngitis. The only time in my life I have ever lost my voice was the last month before I graduated from college. Right when I wanted to make demo tapes to send out to radio stations. While my voice came back, it wasn’t the same for about 2 months. I had a limited window of time that I had access to the recording equipment, so I made tapes anyway. They didn’t sound like me. I did send them out to stations. None of them called.

But I took the laryngitis as a sign that I wasn’t meant to go into radio. The Universe is a fickle mistress. It broke my heart a little. But I was also scared to death to go out into the big bad world and be that brave. I think my discouragement was equal parts laryngitis and fear. I decided maybe I was just a better radio spectator than player.

I got a boring office job in a giant corporate building filled with cubicles I hated. My mom had always worked in offices.  It felt like a safe bet, if not one I was thrilled about.  I hated the long commute. I hated the work. But I liked the people. I made some great friends just at the time in my life when I needed them. We had lots of important experiences that shaped me into the dorky weirdo that I am today. I wouldn’t trade the chance to meet those folks for anything. (Love to Patti, Carrie, Jeff, Linda, Ann, Megan, Paul, and the rest…)

I recently applied a few times to the local radio station. I got an interview, but with no current experience, they didn’t hire me. Other stations are an even further commute for me. Or I would have to move. I don’t want to move. For many reasons.

You might look at this post as a list of excuses. I suppose it is. But I don’t have a better explanation.

The Universe told me it wasn’t my thing. I believed it.

Maybe the Universe was trying to tell me that my words were important, just not the ones that come from my mouth. Maybe the ones that come from my fingers are more important?

Casey Kasem (1932-2014)

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CASEY KASEM-shaggy meme

I <3 DJs

Back in 1990, I would listen every night to the Live 5 at 8 Countdown with Dave Fuller on 92.5 KISS-FM. (I am so old, I remember before they were called KISS-FM.) I would listen on my awesome stereo AM/FM cassette player mini boom box from Sears. (I still have it. The best radio I have ever owned.) I had a total crush on the DJ, Dave Fuller. I still do. Well, a crush on his voice. I had no idea what he looked like. And I wouldn’t know for another 22 years.

I loved the song “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O’Connor. And it was VERY popular on 92.5, since that is the station all the school girls listened to. I had a knack. I would call about 15 minutes before he did the number one song on the countdown. I knew the number one song would be “Nothing Compares 2 U”. I knew that with the number one song, Dave Fuller always played a phone call. And I knew that he pre-taped the calls. There were multiple times that Dave played MY call on the air.*

*Here is a transcript of one of the calls. I would totally put an audio clip in this post, but I don’t want to get sued:

DF: The coveted event.
The sacred moment.
The thrill you have been waiting all day for.
The number one song on the Live 5 at 8 Countdown.
ME: I wanna request, um, Nothing Compares 2 U for the countdown.
DF: That’s what they all say.
ME: [Awkward teenage giggle.]

I had such a big crush on Dave. I believe I have his birthday written down somewhere in my house. That is probably when I decided that Dave was such a cool name, although that is not the whole reason my dog is named Dave. If I had had a drivers’ license, I totally could have gone to remote broadcasts and stalked him. But by the time I did, he was off to another radio station.

So, I kept listening to 92.5 and I developed a crush on Kurt Kruse (no idea on the spelling) and Billy Michaels. I used to tape the disc jockeys talking to one another at shift change. I actually got to meet Kurt when I got to do a show called “Look Ma, I’m on KISS-FM” where I got to play DJ for an hour on a Friday night when no one listens. But it was right before high school graduation, so I never found out if anyone listened and thought I was ultra-cool. (Or ultra-dork.) I wrote an outline for a story about Billy Michaels, but I have never fleshed out the full story.

Probably my obsession with the DJs (and being totally clueless as to what I wanted to do in life) is why I studied Radio & TV Broadcasting in college. Not that I have ever actually used my degree to go into that field, because I have not.

The other day I looked, and Dave Fuller is now on a station in Detroit. He even has a Facebook page, which means I got to see what he looks like. My 8th grade self was so excited:) [Awkward teenage giggle.]

Sorry for all of the nostalgia lately. I am in the process of converting all my audio cassette tapes to mp3 files. Sometimes technology can be great.

I’m not stalking you. is NOW ON FACEBOOK! “Like” that I’m not stalking you and get an update when there is a new post to read. (It is sort of like YOU are stalking ME.)

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