by Akim Reinhardt
As far as human experiences go, there's not much that tops doing something you love. But when doing it means you're not only indulging your personal creativity, but also sharing it with hundreds or thousands of other people who are appreciative, and you're contributing to something larger by helping to keep a valuable public institution alive, the feeling is hard to describe. It's transcendent, really. To have a creative outlet that allows you to be free and individualistic, yet at the same time to be part of something bigger that provides a service to your community is simply exhilarating. From 1988-2000, I got to have that experience in public radio. And it was not even something that I bothered pursued; rather, I was lucky enough to have it find me.
During the late 1980s and early 1990s I was a DJ at WCBN-FN, a college radio station in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The University of Michigan provided space in the basement of the old Student Activities Building while also footing the bill for electricity and equipment, but none of the DJs got paid a dime. Instead, most everyone down there, including some local older non-students, spun records and CDs because they loved music and wanted to share it with the public.
Working in radio had never been a goal of mine. I only got involved with the station my junior year because a friend was working there as a DJ. I did love music, both listening and playing, and had already taken to writing about it for the student newspaper, cranking out record concert reviews. But radio had simply never occurred to me until he suggested it. Nevertheless, I took to it almost immediately.