Doing the scary stuff

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Changes

I have begun to think about the things I want to get done before I say goodbye to my current position and where I work. Every college campus is filled with concerts and talks and events (and yes, you are right, they always seen to take place on the same weekend in April)… I want to be sure I get to more of those.  I have told my students I will come to their recitals and presentations (and every time I go I am blown away by their talent and the work they have put into their craft…). I want to attend more of my colleagues’ talks, like the the museum talk I heard by one of my colleagues  about honeybees in Russian art and iconography… it was fascinating. There are local sights I need to see and swimming holes I need to explore.  But also? I also want to push myself as a second language speaker in the same ways I ask my students to push themselves.  One of those moments happened the week before spring break and thanks to our college radio station.

Readers of LLU know that my students have been very lucky to be selected to do a radio show for our college station  –in Spanish– each week as part of our conversation class. Each week a pair of students volunteer to be DJs and choose the theme for the show. Their classmates make 2 minute recordings about the topic (example: the best mistake you ever made) and those are included in the show.  Students also make all of the Station IDs, bumpers, and PSAs.  And music…always music.

The week before spring break is hard: midterms, illness, frayed nerves, bad weather, exhaustion…. and people who can’t make their weekly radio shows. One day a DJ asked for a sub on a Thursday at 1. I volunteered.

Something you might know about me: I am by nature an introvert.  The act of teaching a class is hard for me and many are the days in which I want to just crawl inside of myself and hide vs standing in the front of a classroom.  So somehow I found myself volunteering to be DJ, all by myself, on live radio. Oh and did I mention that I would be doing a “special edition” of our weekly radio show and do this in Spanish?  What was I thinking?


The night before the show I did not sleep well.  I had a very vivid dream that I showed up late, that I had the day wrong, that I froze and couldn’t talk on the air.  I had many second thoughts and toyed with the idea of trying to hand the show off to someone else. But the bottom line was this:  if I ask this of my students on a weekly basis, surely I could ask this of myself.  Besides…what could go wrong?

(I need to stop asking myself this…because…well..)

Given that earlier this month we celebrated #DayWithoutaWoman, I decided to make a special edition of our show dedicated just to women artists singing in Spanish.  I added the recordings of my women students (their PSAs, bumpers, Station IDs) when possible.  I created a playlist in Spotify and when it would cooperate added the students recordings so I could play the audio from one source (this proved to be clunky so I had to switch back and forth between Spotify and iTunes).

Things went well.  Until they didn’t.

The DJ for the next show didn’t appear.  I waited, I played the news, I search for a few new songs…I emailed the sub list.  Nothing. By the 20 minute mark it was clear my show had just been extended.  So I scrambled to add songs and recordings on the fly while trying not to have dead air (more than 3 seconds of dead air= an FCC fine).  I called the sublist but no one picked up.  I logged my songs. I finished the hour.

And then it happened again.  The second DJ did not show.  More frantic emails.  More songs (but trying to be mindful not to have more than two songs by the same artist or three songs from the same album within an hour…another FCC rule).  Played the news, several times.  Walked through the station…empty.

Finally 2 hours and 35 minutes into what was supposed to have been a 1 hour show, I had to go.  I shut down the transmitter and had to walk away.

Thankfully another DJ answered my call for help and came in about 20 minutes later. WOBC was back on the air.

The good news?  I was able to face my fears and did something I had (almost) convinced myself I couldn’t do. In fact, by about the middle of hour 2 I felt myself move from terrified to “I can do this.”   And in retrospect, I think it ended up being pretty decent show.

Below is the Spotify playlist of the show. I managed to get some of the students’ recordings in there as well. I have the audio from the actual radio show and I might add it later (for giggles) but for now you, dear readers, will probably find this playlist more interesting and entertaining…. ENJOY!

[ Featured image is a pic I took of what the console at WOBC looks like. I was going to use an image of a refrigerator magnet I know well with the quote “do one thing every day that scares you” … until I dug deeper and found out that this quote has been incorrectly connected to Eleanor Roosevelt and should instead by credited to Mary Schmich. #themoreyouknow ]
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Barbara is a Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at a small liberal arts college in Maine. Rumor has it this was also her alma mater. She used to work for a small liberal arts college in the cornfields of Ohio for almost 20 years as a teacher and language center director. Prior to these adventures in higher ed she taught high school Spanish and loved it. She wishes she had more time in her life to play with her dogs, write, read, swim, do yoga things and making stuff out of clay. To see her online portfolio please click here!

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