I definitely listened to way too much Casey Kasem as a kid, but as I moved around the U.S. & Germany with my military family, radio was the only constant in my life.
In high school I loved movies like Good Morning Vietnam and Pump Up the Volume. I even liked that scene in (I think it was) Stephen King's mini-series The Stand where the radio folk stayed on-air broadcasting the terror around them until they were finally silenced by Martial Law. Now that's the power of the public's airwaves put to good use.
In school I loved watching Talk Radio and learning the history of broadcasting. But the real world hit me after I landed my first radio internship in 2000, by way of a small radio station that had recently been gobbled up by Clear Channel.
I was a dedicated volunteer but was pushed into the promotions department when what I really wanted to do was production (Commercials, public service announcements, whatever.) After about six months or so, I trekked up to Philadelphia hoping to discover more - but I only found more of the same.
I reasoned that at least the station in Philly was family-owned. (But then again, wasn't Wal-Mart?) The station played everything everyone else played (some times at the same exact time). Gone are the days of originality and creativity in the media.
I realized I hated what radio had become: announcers were button-pushers working for $7 an hour, discouraged (and fired) for sharing their opinions and insight about the community. Playlists were scheduled weeks in advance and pretty performers replaced talented musicians (I'm talking to you Rascal Flatts).
So my senior year I traded in audio for video. (See my first ever documentary on my internships below or at Youtube.)
After graduation I moved to Seattle where I found some awesome video resources...but also listened to NPR for the first time. And found quality and intelligence on the FM dial again at KEXP and KBCS.
God bless internet streaming...I also "discovered" KCRW in Santa Monica and XPN in Philly. And when I moved to Tampa, I found WMNF. My love for radio was absolutely restored.
The saddest part is that for all my effort in college to find the right internship, it's taken me years to see that I totally belonged at WHYY. (I'm talking to you, Terry Gross.)
Ah well. At least I've got character, right?