Sunday, July 10, 2005

Musings from a Saturday Afternoon

Every Saturday afternoon at 2 pm I drive the 20 miles along route 103 then route 114 to Henniker NH from beautiful downtown Warner. The route is thankfully a scenic one with minimal traffic, and on a sun-filled day is a refreshing and engaging opportunity to contemplate what I will do during the broadcasts each week.

Part of me holds a pirate's spirit, and if ever there were an 'almost' pirate station, it is WNEC. Yes it is licensed by the Federal Communications Commission, yet the station is hardly ever on the air. In fact, perusing the station log today revealed that WNEC had been off the air since last Saturday at 9 pm when Kristin, WNEC's music director, signed off for the evening.

As my shift progressed, and I was sinking into the sublime groove of jazzy tunes (a kind of different mood for my shows), I realized the right channel indicator was not moving. Checking the radio outside the broadcast booth, the LED display confirmed only one channel was being received. So, if anyone was listening, they would hear the program in monaural at best and through only one speaker at worst. A discussion with Kristin revealed that the station also had this technical glitch this last week. She left a note for the station manager but nothing had been done. I was assured this technical difficulty could continue for weeks or months without intervention. My memory flashed back to a series of months when WNEC was only audible as far as the parking lot.

The phone is usually quiet when I'm on the air. I wonder who, if anyone, is listening. And if someone is listening, are they catching the vibe I'm sending out? Do they feel the intent behind the flow of music, the smattering of media news that I read, the frequent references to 'free' radio?

WNEC is a 150 watt station and my Grundig 800 picks the signal up crisp and clear at home, some 14 miles away (as the crow flies). There is something primal and beautiful about radio signals and hearing stations that are ephemeral ... there ... and then gone. That's what attracts me to pirate radio and shortwave listening. WNEC embodies the "FM" version of that primal attraction. A reminder that not everything is perfectly timed or scheduled in the world, that honest media is fragile, a product of human hands and hearts. Sometimes the silences between transmissions are more powerful than sound itself.

No comments: