Choosing Through The Static

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“She was a really cool kisser and she wasn’t all that strict of a Christian.
She was a damn good dancer but she wasn’t all that great of a girlfriend.
She likes the warm feeling but she’s tired of all the dehydration.
Most nights are crystal clear
But tonight it’s like I’m stuck between stations
On the radio.”

–    Lyric from “Stuck Between Stations” by The Hold Steady (with thanks to James Ryken for introducing me to this band…)

As a kid, I was hooked on radio.  My first “real” job was at KMCD / KBCT in my hometown.  Spinning records.  Reading the news.  Doing play-by-play for the girls basketball games the night after playing in our game.  (You’ve never really lived until, at age 17 you criticize, on the air, your girlfriend’s shot selection, with her dad sitting in front of you with his headphones on…)

I didn’t like the St. Louis Cardinals, and I still don’t — but I revered Jack Buck, their play-by-play guy on KMOX.  With a transistor under my pillow, pretending to sleep when Mom checked on me, I’d listen to as many games as I could, until Jack would say, “Thanks for your time this time, until next time, so long!  This is the St. Louis Cardinals radio network.”

Beaker Street on Sunday night, broadcast not from the studio but from the transmitter shack at KAAY, Little Rock, AR was the big hook.  The earliest forms of alternative rock would crackle through my transistor, but on nights when the moon was wrong or some other magnetic force dorfed up the atmosphere, the signal would fizzle in and out — making it sound like I was stuck between stations.

“Holy crap, Heston!” you might be thinking, “Get to the flipping point!”

Stuck between stations.  Static.  There are so many frequencies broadcasting their signals at us today (now, I am NOT talking about radio stations anymore), that the static is too pervasive.  468 e-mails so far this week.  That’s “net,” not gross.  It doesn’t count the 600 or so I have disposed of.  23 voice mails and counting.  16 meetings, not including the five I cancelled or declined.  It’s dopey, really, listening for a good tune when the static is up so loud.

But, choosing to tweak the dial just enough to get a clear signal — now THAT’s time well spent!  Because, if we’re not careful, we become desensitized to the static.  We accept the crappy signal.  We don’t fully appreciate the nights that are crystal clear unless we tweak the dial often enough to fully capture the tune, the phrase or the story.

Choosing through the static.  Difference making stuff.

 


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Comments

  1. When I was a kid my brothers and I thought it was cool to put two radios on the opposite sides of the living room to blast the same station (101 KLOL Houston)…loudly! Then we’d fight over the sweet spot. You know the one right in the middle where the sound from the two radios got to you at the same time.

    Sometimes the cacaphony is a matter of position. When the same message is coming from two different directions at almost the same time, it can be like static and neither gets through clearly. We need be sure all our folks are in the sweet spot.

  2. Really good perspective, Briggs. And, well told!

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