Radio Ga-Ga: Geeks on the Airwaves

Every morning I sit down and check out what’s happening in the world.  Aside from the news, I check about thirteen blogs that I read daily.  I have a facebook, a myspace, a livejournal, and twitter.  Back in the day, I used to have a blog, and an orkut account.

At any given time, I can talk to people around the world, be it through instant messaging or irc or email or forums.  I can shout my most mundane thoughts to the world at large in a dozen different ways.

None of this seems as cool or magical to me as radio.

My dad has been a ham since decades before my birth.  Every time I visited his house, I was transfixed by the room that had all his Ham Radio Stuff – radios, equipment, computers, microphones.  Long before we owned a computer that had the internet, he was talking to people across the globe.  And it wasn’t all just vapid chatting, either; I was particularly impressed with the SKYWARN program, giving advance warning in nasty weather and potentially saving lives.

As cool as it all seemed, it was also intimidating.  You had to have a license to be a ham, and I only visited every so often.  I never pursued it myself, even when they got rid of Morse code proficiency requirement.  Still, I felt cool riding around town with him, in a car topped by antennas, even though people invariably slowed down ahead of us, thinking he was a plainclothes cop.

Then I became a DJ.

I was in college and my school’s station needed music majors to run classical shows.  The two years I spent as a DJ were quite possibly the most fun years of college.  This wasn’t some modern, computer-run station with pre-ordained playlists; this was on the fly, I hope you know a seven-minute piece because if you run over the next DJ will strangle you with your headphones kind of DJing.

This was real power!  And it was in real time.  When a snake was loose in the station, callers let us know if it was poisonous.  A man got mad at me on Halloween because I had already played Night on Bald Mountain before he had turned on the show.  And when a hurricane hit, we were in the station the second power was back on campus, reading out the emergency information even as it was printing.

Don’t get me wrong; I love the internet.  I live on the internet.  But radio will never become some background noise for me. Every time I’m in a new area of the country, I’m flipping through, trying to find something new and unique.  I fear, though, that it’s a dying medium, even to us geeks, as stations become more and more homogenized.

So what about you?  Are there any hams out there?   Any of you adding your own touch to the local airwaves?  And if so, got an internet feed?

Oh, and if not, why not?  It’s seriously fun, I assure you.

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