Early on in my life I was exposed to the greatness of talk radio. I’m not talking about the political variety with blow hard talking heads, but that of the shock jock. My dad would listen to WAVA, home of Don and Mike, on my way to school in the morning. The only caveat was that I was not to repeat what I heard in class. It was two guys, hanging out with their friends, just having a conversation about whatever they wished. Never really comprehended all that I was listening to, and it wasn’t until many years later when I became a teenager that I really appreciated what I was hearing, but those early days did lay the foundation. At around 13 started listening to more and more “shock jock” radio. It was good for a laugh, the news was more entertaining than what I heard on any TV network, and was fascinated by the ways they would push the envelope. Whether it was with language, stunts, strippers, or inappropriate game shows. Don and Mike was the soundtrack to the afternoon on my way home from school. I would listen while avoiding the idiot talk of those around me and sitting alone in the back of the bus. Got in trouble quite a few times for sneaking a radio into school (they had a no walk man rule for some unknown reason. Get not listening to it in class, but afterwards?).
Wouldn’t be until I started working that radio really took an important place in my daily life. Kirk, Mark, and Lopez on 98 Rock would fill my ears on the morning commute (because even then wasn’t a fan of Stern). Opie and Anthony took over my afternoon ride home due them moving Don and Mike to afternoons in 2001. Instantly became a fan for all the same reasons I loved talk radio back in my school days. Kept my mind off the bullshit around me and allowed me to escape through laughter. Having a warped sense of humor from day 1, it was the perfect fuel to get my attention.
Then came a major move of employment at the end of 2004. That was when I became a full time short range truck driver in the DC area. 5-8 hours of my day would be sitting behind the wheel of a box truck sitting in traffic and dealing with the idiots with licenses in this area. That would peak my love affair with talk radio. Instead of it filling 1-3 hours of my day on average, it became my constant companion on the road. My love for O&A, Don and Mike, Ron and Fez, Big O and Dukes grew each time I listened. I hung on every word they said. It became a weird friendship of sorts. Why? Well there’s only one way of really explaining it….
When you sit in traffic listening to the radio, what’s coming through is in the foreground, where the traffic and just the art of driving bleeds to the background. It’s why I’ve never understood why radio is the most disrespected of all the mediums. Movies outside a theatre can quickly become background, or be forgotten by the time you get in your car to go home. TV is mainly white noise while people have their face buried in their tablet or phone. Radio is intimate. It’s what you focus on so you don’t have to pay attention the mundane. It’s the only audio medium that reaches you in the same way as an exquisite piece of art, a live comedy or music performance, or a great book. It sticks with you. That’s why I love radio so much, and why when a show I’ve fallen in love with ends, take it so hard. It’s like losing a friend, though the weirdest friendship you could possibly have….