I was probably on the San Diego Freeway (I was always on the San Diego Freeway,) sealed tight in my car and inching forward in that jaw clenching, hair-pulling gridlock between Los Angeles (home) and the Valley (work) when, despairing, I hit the “FM” button on my stereo. I had come to LA as a music student, and stayed to play in a rock band and teach cello. Despite musical inclinations, I had long since exhausted my CD collection, moved on to my library’s books-on-tape shelf––inexplicably reminiscent of my 8th grade reading list (think: Emily Bronte, Nathaniel Hawthorne)––and had even listened to 18 lectures on the History of Linguistics. (Sound desperate?) And because driving in Los Angeles always put me in some kind of apocalyptic, existential mood, I was probably meditating on the carbon dioxide rising up from my exhaust pipe, or the clumsiness of a cello in combating abuse of power on Capitol Hill, as I scanned through the local radio stations. Jay Z, The Monkeys, Everlast. . .then, (angelic choir sounds please!) KPCC. That is, Air Talk, Patt Morrison, The Story, Talk of the Nation, Morning Edition, StoryCorps, All Things Considered. From that moment until I left Los Angeles 9 months later, I turned off the radio––dial set permanently on 89.5FM––only while teaching, sleeping, or on the phone. I dreaded the moment between parking my car and turning on the radio in my apartment. With an iPod strapped to my arm like an IV, I brought Terry Gross with me on my morning jogs. I was an NPR junkie.
What is it about the voice that is so comforting? Why do stories move us so? Is it embedded in our culture? Encoded in our DNA? Storytelling is fundamental to our perception of ourselves and each other. Through public radio, we transmit the real and complex stories that inform and create real and complex communities. But healthy communities need all kinds of different voices and stories. Can the handful of local and national public radio shows I love so much sustain a nation of 300 million? A world of 6.5 billion?
That’s why I was so excited to discover PRX last May, and why I am downright thrilled to be starting work here today. That’s right! I can’t wait to help you producers get your pieces up on our site, or help you stations license them for broadcast, because really, I can’t wait to turn on my radio and hear some mindblowing radio!