Friday, August 01, 2008

Beginnings... Unbidden Radio, by Jim Metzner

Beginnings... Unbidden Radio, by Jim Metzner

Although I've cringed when I listen back to the stiffness of the narration of my early programs, they were how I learned the craft of radio -- by the seat of my pants. I made lots of mistakes.

Like what? Well, like recording the reenactment of the battle of Lexington and Concord with my tape recorder's limiter on, reducing all that beautiful echoey musket fire into a series of pallid hand-claps. Like not using a good enough windscreen, and running out of batteries, and not bringing the proper cable, and on and on.

In the beginning, I had no models to emulate or imitate; it was all new. I had two minutes to do more or less what I wanted to, assuming it had something to do with greater Boston. I learned the power of a compelling question. I learned that sounds can take you to places where words can't go. I learned that a tape recorder and microphone were magic keys that could open doors and memories. That an "interview" could be something more than just a gathering of information. That the well of sounds is bottomless, and you can return to drink from it at any time and there would be something new. I learned to respect the recordings, the sounds, the words -- and regard them as gifts, gifts that needed to be honored and shared.

Perhaps the best advice I could give you about beginning is that the first impulse and exultation of it will only take you so far, so choose your path and your subject matter accordingly. If you've found something that you love to do, that love will likely sustain you through the periods of drought and resistance.

The next best advice would be to find your own voice, your own way of listening, your own particular way of telling a story. The rest is practice, perseverence, and being free enough to learn from what may seem like a mistake.


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