Boys Gone Wild
By Brenda Tremblay ~ Posted Fri, 04/25/2008 - 11:00am
I made the questionable decision to bring two nine year-old boys to work with me yesterday, based on the idealistic assumption that exposing them to the world of music and ideas would fire their imaginations, expand their horizons, and change their lives.
By the end of the day, I needed a shot of whisky.
First, we set off for the suite of Entercom-owned commercial radio stations across the street, where my son and his friend met a bunch of charming, funny deejays. One guy put them on the air. This act turned out to be hard to beat.
Back at the public station, the boys quickly tired of watching me tape a TV auction. Television can be incredibly boring. It’s all hurry up and wait. Tethered to a mike under the glaring lights, I watched helplessly as they slipped out of the studio for some unknown destination. (I’d given them a written schedule with instructions on what to do next, and I could only hope they followed through.) A few minutes later, our TV news director told me they were running amok, punching all the buttons on the elevator and swinging off the balcony railings like chimps. She’d given them a stern lecture and forced them to join a docent-led tour of the facility.
I caught up with the tour. The boys were slumped against a wall, eyes rolling, heaving impatient sighs. I gave them the Evil Eye. (In truth, I sympathized with them. The tour was a bit dull, from a kid’s point of view.)
Next, I planned for them to sit in on a public policy discussion about rejuvenating downtown Rochester, and I had hopes they’d be interested in a live radio show about urban planning.
My colleague John Andres saved the day. He let the boys sit at the console and he showed them all the colored buttons and blinking lights. A former 4th grade teacher, John knew exactly how to hold their attention, and when it came time for them to get some pizza and soda, they didn’t want to leave.
Later, they met classical music host Chris Van Hof, who told them about his favorite composer (John Adams) and favorite instrument (the trombone.) He was very cool.
Finally, we walked down to City Hall to see the Mayor’s office.
On the way, I lectured them about the power of broadcasting to reach thousands, even millions, of eyes and ears with technology. I earnestly impressed upon them the fact that the world has two kinds of people, producers and consumers, and that those who control information have incredible influence on the hearts and minds of the general populace. I blathered on and on about the importance of independent, public broadcasting.
At the end of the day, when my son’s friend saw his mom, I waited to hear what he would say.
“Mom! Guess WHAT?! We found a Tim Horton’s cup in the garbage and there was a free giveaway on the lid and NOBODY HAD ROLLED IT UP yet and we did and we WON a FREE COFFEE!”