Radio Ruined My Life

Attitude is everything at The Boot.
Attitude is everything at The Boot.

People think it’s so cool when I tell them my last job was being a radio personality for a country music station. I try not to be “that person” who cannot take a compliment, so I usually say something along the lines of “Yeah, it was neat” instead of throwing the bundle of complaints that flashed through my skull at the mention of my previous employment. Not that it didn’t have its upsides, but now, being far away from it, I can officially say that radio has ruined my life.

I have no idea how to write anymore.

In elementary school I was groomed to write lengthy responses to every test question that came my way; standardized tests ordered me to have five sentences per short answer and a paragraph or two for the short essay questions. Then I got to high school and was ordered to write five pages on a book or a subject that I never researched enough, and this trend followed me to college. Just recently I took a class that didn’t give page requirements but word requirements, which totally sucked since not only was I trained in writing twenty page research papers, but I was also trained in bull shitting fifteen of those twenty pages with size fifteen period fonts. (It’s a real thing and it works. You’re welcome.)

Not only was I not able to bull shit my way through the 2,000 word research paper with fake length, but I wasn’t able to form enough words to make it through without throwing in some extra very’s. Why? Because radio rewired my brain to only think and write concisely. Gone were the big fancy words that could take up half a line. Now I had to write to my audience, which were, let me remind you, country music fans. Lengthy paragraphs about any topic vanished, because people just want the basics. (Who, what, when, where, why, and how much?) Consequently, I can’t write impressively long stuff anymore. These stories that you read on my blog were once just several sentences that humped on their own time and multiplied.

My professional productivity is gone.

The radio station I worked at had to be manned at all times in case there was hard hitting news, or mostly in case there was a glitch and we went off air. And since hardly any radio you hear is actually live but pre-recorded an hour or so before, most of my time physically at the station was spent finding things to do. So really I watched Netflix. I loved this part of the job, because I got to set my own pace of productivity throughout an eight hour shift in a completely vacant building with excellent wifi. Now, at my current job, I actually have to interact with other people and I have to seem busy for an entire shift. I have yet to master it.

I hate country music with every fiber of my being.

I’ve lost friendships over this. I’m from the Midwest where county music is born and where I hope that it will soon die. Everyone there listens to country music, mostly by choice and, in my case now, by force. Walk into any gas station or grocery store in my hometown and I bet you my left kidney that my previous employer is blasting through the speakers. (Unless it’s those other guys from down the highway. Losers.) And let’s not forget my town’s favorite pastime of “Country Days” where everyone who lives within the city limits gets a hefty dose of live country music around the clock for an entire week in July*. Add all of these factors with sitting in the studio or at my desk for hours at a time where you cannot escape the music and you’ve got a recipe for PTCD—Post Traumatic Country Disorder. I literally flinch when certain songs come on. I urge all country music fans to actually read the lyrics you’re humming along to and ask yourself if you deserve more. The answer is yes, you do.

Making Country Days our bitch.
Making Country Days our bitch.

My tolerance level for incompetence is zero.

Believe it or not this has nothing to do with my coworkers, who were amazing nine times out of ten. No, this has everything to do with the idiots that called into the station on a daily basis. People would call for a wide range of reasons, but a few really stand out to me. A handful of times people actually called to ask for the number of our competitor, to which I always kindly responded with a click. People would call to ask me about the advertisement they heard last Tuesday ‘round breakfast time. No, they can’t remember what it was about, sorry. Song requests came in frequently, and I admit here and now that I probably only played ten of them in the four years I worked there. The worst were the snow day callers. We would read aloud the school cancellations and also post them on our website, but had strict rules about giving out that information on the phone because then what’s the point? When I told people this as the calls rushed in with the drop of a single snow flurry, they were immediately outraged and claimed they didn’t have a radio or access to the internet. Liars. I have to say though that my favorite times at the Boot were during tornado season. The amount of supposed ‘nader sightings always set my soul aflight. 

It ruined me for any other job in the foreseeable future.


Hanging out with Jason Michael Carroll like it's my job or something.
Hanging out with Jason Michael Carroll like it’s my job or something.

No matter how much I bitched and moaned about that place, I miss a lot of it terribly. It was the most chill setup and could be extremely rewarding when I actually put forth the effort in the production room. I met some of the coolest and most influential people of our area and people actually knew my name (and voice!). Radio set me on my feet and pushed me in the general direction of a career I could see myself happy in. I hope to Science I never end up in country music again, but I pray to the great Howard Stern that some day I can find my way home to radio.

*Upon proof reading, my mother informed me that Country Days is in fact the first week of June, not July. I told her the fact that she knows that hurts my soul and proves my point. Thanks Gena.

-Wine of the evening: Clemente VII 2011

Rachael Clemons
Rachael Clemons