Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Radio Day

Field Trip!
Escape from standardized test city- and I could only take seven kids- of my choosing. Oh this gets better and better.

Okay short background. Connor and Norm had a senior science research project. It definitely fit into the "why I am stuck helping you with this project?" category and Connor and Norm decided they would do something with sound.

So somehow our new aspiring principal suggested we put together a radio station. (Another entry in the "why I am stuck helping you with this project?" category). And it turns out that our aspiring principal (think student principal as in student teacher) is one of those change of career people who left the corporate world to complicate my life with projects that are particularly high tech for those of us who started teaching in the age purple mimeograph machines.

But he has contacts in the corporate world- in the radio corporate world. So off we went to visit not one but two radio stations.

WABC was the top forty radio station of my childhood. I have fond memories of sitting around the dining room table on Sunday night and listening to Cousin Brucie introduce us to the Jackson Five and the like, but FM replaced AM for music and digital downloads replaced FM and talk radio left Cousin Brucie in the dust.

We squeezed into the control room. While Mark Simone discussed the gulf oil spill, Adam the 24 year old intern explained the technical side of the show. Then we went on the air and had our almost 15 minutes of fame.

We almost made it down to the fastfood underworld of Penn Station but Laurie our host decided it would be great if we could speak with one of the young producers of the Sean Hannity show. The Sean Hannity Show is the second largest radio show in the country she assured us, a fact I might possibly have known had I had the slightest bit of interest in Talk Radio Hey- I spent the whole day not mentioning once that I thought the ABC line up was a bunch of angry right wing hot air heads and I prefer to spend my time listening to NPR.

Ms. Perky young producer spent some time chastising the group for not being animated enough and I could live with that, my young friends need to know that putting yourself out in the world means just that - putting yourself out there. But then she went on to explain that she was a fiscal conservative but a social liberal. She lived in Chelsea and believed in Gays. (No - I'm not kidding, "Gay rights? I suggested)

"Anyone could marry who they wanted," she said, "but they shouldn't spend our money."

Kenneth, to his credit was the only one of the group who "put himself" out there. He tried to convince her that his status as a child of immigrant family made him more a fan of Democrats but somehow fell short in his explanation which somehow ended up with him pointing to a chair and saying anyone was entitled to one.

I got it- he saw Democrats and liberal leaning politicians as more generous in their policies and more friendly to immigrants and their quest for better lives/ My other friends and Ms. Perky however, made it clear to Kenneth that his argument made no sense.

Poor Kenneth went around the rest of the day worrying that he got his ass kicked by a girl and he planned to go home and get more articulate.
I continually reassured him I was proud of him for stepping up to the plate and attempting to make a point even if it didn't come out quite as convincingly as we would have hoped.

We went uptown in the afternoon and several leaps ahead in communication technology.
The afternoon found us in the offices of Sirius Satellite Radio. If WABC dated back to my childhood, Sirius did not even exist at the start of my young friend's childhood.

We spent the afternoon touring through the maze of production studios where radio programs to appeal to every taste were produced.The Martha Stewart cubicle was directly opposite the Out radio booth- a fact Kobe. our guide non-chalantly pointed out-no need on his part to justify his personal opinions of life style choices. Sirius is serious - if it makes money- it plays.

We saw the gigantic "brain" of Sirius, the row after row of equipment that somehow fed the voices and music of the production cubicles to the sky where the satellites redistributed these sound waves across the Western Hemisphere. (Millions of dollars of equipment cooled by $30 K-Mart fans, Kobe explained)

We passed wall after wall of artwork and signatures that represented most of the entertainment industry of the last decade.

We observed the system of tracking the satellites.

And then we ran into LL Cool Jay. We took pictures.
And now it is time to email those pictures to young friends.

Perhaps in the end, today will be forever remembered as the day we ran into LL Cool Jay.

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