I’ve been part of the radio industry, in some way, shape, or form, since I was in high school. My mother was the one who encouraged me to sign up for Broadcasting in the 10th grade, telling me that I always used to say that I wanted to be on the radio. I do not remember saying it, but I do remember wondering what it must be like to be able to say a few words and to have the whole world able to hear them. Love that there is a day to celebrate folks in radio…today is Dia del Locutor aka Radio Announcer aka Radio DJ aka Radio On-Air Personality.
I remember hearing the dj’s on-air and wondering how they made it all happen: how did they change the songs? How did they know when/how to talk on the mic? Were there that many people in the studio all of the time? (when commercials would come on). Going into that first Broadcasting class, the only girl, was super exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. The very first words I uttered into that microphone had me sounding scared LOL, I was shaking big time. Shaking but determined to get over it and get on that air. I learned everything by doing it, by not being afraid to try, ‘a la brava’, there were no women mentors in school. Even when I learned how to run a studio and I knew how things were done, I never lost that wonder when I’d listen to the radio.
Once I got my first radio job on-air, I was still nervous but knew that this was where I needed to be. In those first couple of years I saw it all: station being sold, people getting fired, finding people in various stages of drunkenness, with women, with men, high on drugs, passed out, doing ‘it’ on top of a conference room table, in a studio, in a station van. I learned QUICK that this was one crazy world. I also learned that this craziness was not going to scare me off: I was ready to work, work and work to do the best job I could do.
This crazy world has always been one of the most comfortable places for me. I never needed alcohol or drugs to keep up. My challenge has always been workaholic related. Fast-paced, energetic, crazy, straight-up drama some days, rarely calm. It was the perfect environment for me to unleash my energy. One cannot enter into this world without that ‘chispa’, that spark of energy that moves you forward when everyone else has gone home, when everyone else has said “f#$% it, I’m out”, when you need to finish that copy, that proposal, that commercial, that schedule, etc. You must put in the time in order to survive much less succeed. None of my colleagues at KNBS, my high school station, stayed with radio as long as I have – sad, because some of them were really good.
For many years, my place was in the studio on-air. My dad is still waiting for me to go back on-air, that I could do it just as well as “la negrita esa” aka Oprah LOL. I loved my time on-air, I was one of those who loved answering the phones and made many lasting friends. Recording commercials was straight-up madness for me, I was and am a perfectionist and would do take after take after take in order to get it right. But like anything in radio, if you’re heart isn’t into it 100%, you need to move on. When the walls started to close in on me, I knew that I was ready to move on to Marketing/Promotions/Events…waaay fun! No bigger high that seeing a packed venue, folks having fun at the events. I’m the type of event nerd that doesn’t watch the artist on stage, I watch the audience and try to count how many show up LOL.
Sometimes you have an office, a cubicle, a little chair and a small table, a seat in the station van, somewhere in the middle of a ‘jaripeo’ to work from and, somehow, that’s all you need to get the job done. I can work from anywhere but my favorite office was that corner oficina, two huge windows for walls. I was able to make things happen in this corner, where I rarely needed to turn the lights on, where I could see what the weather looked like outside, where I could stare out at the trees as I worked out ideas for events.
While folks may say that radio is dying because of social media, ipods, streaming services…I do not agree. People want to turn their device on and feel the thrill of someone being at home, to know that the lights are on, that someone is in the station. Especially if that someone will play a favorite song, send out a shout out, give you a prize. This is what I hear from people all of the time, they always ask about this ‘locutor’ or that on-air personality, they always get excited when I tell them how they can win, they always love to talk about their favorite songs or artists. That has never changed. I guess that it’s my job to remind folks how cool radio is…
To the many members of my radio familia, in both English and Spanish, who work it daily, maybe our stories are different, but I believe that we all have that spark, that ‘chispa’ to give to this world, to make things sound big, bad, colorful, wild, and fun. We truly do have radio in our blood. People always want to tell you how to do the job, but there are truly only a few who can do this kind of work and do it well. It would take me forever to write out all of your names but I have had the privilege of working with so many great people and learning from them. It may be Dia del Locutor but it’s really for all of us who have worked On-air, Sales, Traffic, Production, Marketing, Promotions, and all of those GMs out there. My RadioFam is one of a kind. No hay como mi gente de la radio. Feliz Dia del Locutor!