(Pictured: James Taylor, 2005.)
When I was a kid, I sometimes imagined my life as a book. Each day was a page with part of the story on it. Each year was a new chapter. I can’t remember if I ever thought about who the author was (or if I ever considered that I was the author). It wasn’t something I spent a lot of time thinking about. It was just an image that popped into my head sometimes, at the end of a day, or the start of a day, on January 1, or on a birthday.
To the extent that we think about it at all, each of us has a story. Each of us could tell a tale that describes how we got from There to Here, a tale made up of angry confrontations, comedic set pieces, dramatic close shaves, and perplexing mysteries, with a supporting cast of heroes and villains and ourselves at the center, as the star.
Thinking of your life as a story and you as the star can have a side effect that’s something like the Heisenberg Principle: the idea from physics (grossly oversimplified here) that just by observing a phenomenon, you change the way it behaves. If you think of every day as a page in your story, or a scene from your movie, with you as the star, isn’t it possible that you start playing the part of You, as you imagine You to be, instead of just being you?
There’s a very good argument that we already do this, every one of us. I’d read about the phenomenon but had never seen it up close until I spent an evening with James Taylor, among 22,000 people playing the part of prosperous middle-aged boomers on a big night out. That realization and that night make up part of my latest podcast episode, which also wades into the question of why boomers keep listening to the music of their youth, and why Gen X and Millennials, for all their current OK-Boomer self-righteousness, are likely to keep listening to theirs. The episode is below:
This and earlier episodes are also available at Apple Podcasts, Google Play, TuneIn and Stitcher. I appreciate your earholes wherever you point them, and I also appreciate likes, positive ratings, and reviews if your listening platform allows you do to any of that. And I thank everybody who voted for this post in last week’s poll. If you voted for one of the other options, fear not. You’ll hear them eventually.
Most radio stations, and the corporate groups that own them, still understand that they have some responsibility to deliver information to the communities they serve. In a lot of cases, that information is rudimentary: traffic reports, sports scores, “three things you need to know.” The days when it required a fully staffed newsroom are long gone. Even stations that still do formal newscasts aren’t necessarily hiring reporters to do them. The newscasts you hear on your local station may be written and delivered by somebody whose main training is not as a journalist.
Somebody like me, for example.
Apart from a one-semester course in high school, I have never had any formal training in journalism. But as a young radio man, I was fortunate enough to work with highly skilled broadcast journalists, and I learned what to do by watching and listening to them. On the air as a DJ, I sometimes find myself in the position of having to deliver the news, not in the formal newscast sense, but when a big story breaks while I’m on the air. Then, too, I rely on the lessons I learned watching legitimate pros of my acquaintance do their jobs.
(One thing I learned from those pros is that they would have disavowed the highfalutin’ term “broadcast journalist.” They would say that they were “radio reporters,” or “newsmen,” as the gender fit.)
The long-delayed fifth episode of my podcast is called “Delivering the News.” It’s about my experiences playing at radio newsman, about some of the people who taught me how to do it, and some of the memorable breaking-news stories I have reported as a DJ. You can listen to it right here.
This episode and earlier episodes are now available at Apple Podcasts. You can also find them at Google Play, TuneIn, and Stitcher. You can subscribe at my Soundcloud, too. I hope you enjoy the new one, and I welcome your comments on it.
The Pioneer Era of Recording spans the period from the late 1880s, when Thomas Edison’s 1877 invention, the phonograph, became simple enough to be operated by non-experts, to about 1920, when electrical methods of recording replaced Edison’s old acoustic methods. Some of the most famous songs ever written first appeared during the Pioneer Era, performed by people who became popular, bankable stars. The vast majority of those stars, however, are almost entirely forgotten a century later.
I have had a longstanding interest in the Pioneer Era, and I have written about it at this website now and then. The latest episode of my podcast is about the Pioneer Era. It describes the birth of the era, profiles a few of the big stars, and even includes bits of some significant Pioneer Era songs. You can listen to it right here:
Follow my Soundcloud for new episodes, or subscribe to this website to be notified of new episodes (and every other damn thing we do here). The podcast is also available at Google Play, Tune In, and Stitcher. I hope you find this episode interesting, and your comments are welcome.
If you have read this website for a while, or if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you have heard me talk about the teaching job I have, which puts me on the road for a few weeks every spring and fall to help high-school students prepare for the ACT and SAT college entrance exams. Another season will begin in September.
When I launched this podcast in June, I said that some episodes would not have anything to do with either music or radio, and the latest episode is the first one that does not. It’s about that teaching job and my life on the road doing it, and it’s called “Teacher Needs a Beer. ” You can listen to it right here.
You can find all episodes, old and new, at my Soundcloud. The podcast is also available at Google Play, TuneIn, and Stitcher, if you happen to use any of those platforms. I have been asked about its availability via Apple Podcasts; they won’t currently validate it, and I’m not sure if they ever will, but keep hope alive, I guess.
However you listen to the latest episode, I hope you enjoy it. If you do, please consider giving it a good rating or review on whatever platform you use.
The response to my first podcast episode was gratifying. My thanks to everyone who listened, downloaded, and/or sent comments. Episode #2 is now up. It’s called “A Summer on the Radio,” and it’s about my first full-time radio job, which I had while I was in college. You can find it at my Soundcloud. It’s also available at Stitcher and TuneIn. Or you can simply listen to it below.
There will be a new post at this website tomorrow, which is unusual for a Saturday. If you take one guess regarding what it will be about, you’ll probably guess right.
Today we have some programming announcements involving comings and goings. First, what’s coming:
I did podcasts at this website before they were cool. Starting in 2006, I recorded voice tracks on a $30 microphone I bought at Best Buy and used Audacity to mix them with music. But then I got a radio job, and the allure of podcasting went away. The last one I did was in 2009.
It’s only within the last several months that I have begun regularly listening to podcasts. For a long time, the sheer number of them kept me from doing it—where the hell do I start? But once I started, I found a few that I like. Some of them have music and sound clips and are highly produced, while others are just two or three people sitting around talking.
Or just one.
It occurred to me not long ago that I could repurpose, rejigger, and expand some of the writing and research I have done over almost 15 years at this site into podcast form, just one guy sitting around talking. So that’s what I’ve done. Most episodes will have to do with music and/or radio. Some episodes will not—those will be based on other material in my files.
What to call the podcast is still an open question. Since it’s a companion to this website, The Hits Just Keep on Comin’ Podcast is logical enough. And that’s what it’s going to be called until somebody—me, or someone more clever than me—thinks of something better.
The first episode, “Four Rock Festivals,” is right here.
Episodes will also be posted at my Soundcloud to begin with, although I hope to roll them out to other podcast providers in the near future. You can follow me at my Soundcloud and get notifications of new episodes. I will also post new episodes here, and whore them out on social media as well.
I hope that after you listen, you will tell me what you thought of the first episode. Find my e-mail address here, or hit me up on Twitter or Facebook, or comment at the bottom of this post, or at my Soundcloud.
Now, the announcement about what’s going. It was a difficult decision to make and I waffled on it a time or two, but I think it’s the right one. It’s not an ending so much as it is a homecoming. And it’s not as big a deal as this paragraph makes it sound, so prepare to be disappointed when you find out what it is. To find out what it is, click here.