Reflecting in the calm glow of a tree dressed up for the holidays, I close my eyes to see a kid who fell in love. I couldn't have foretold how long this affair would go on when we first met. And honestly, I can't recall how it started. Was it on the living room floor while mom played the piano, or one of the countless times I stood chin in hands with elbows propped up on the kitchen counter listening to that old radio? All I can really remember is when I first realized it was love.
Sitting cross-legged behind my childhood home making pictures in the dirt with a tiny twig, I began to sing. There was a hum and a gentle rhythm coming from the dryer vent which sounded like music to that kid. So I sang. Harmonizing with the drone, stringing words into stories and stories into songs.
Fast forward several decades to the introduction of a fresh Christmas-themed playlist on WCLN the day following Thanksgiving. After weeks of sampling, organizing and planning, a well-curated selection of songs new and old began its 4-week life on the air.
It was as exciting to launch those songs as it was to receive a copy of the original release of the album, “Let It Be” from the Beatles, long before anyone called it a classic. Reflecting on this lifelong relationship, I'm increasingly aware that my love affair isn't with a certain style or genre, it's not with music from this decade or another, it's music. I love music. I thrill to share the latest discovery as much as I do a long-forgotten treasure with others.
There was a time in America – and perhaps it still exists to a certain extent – that mass exposure to music was limited to what a few dozen people thought was cool. Or at least what was marketable. Artists and record label execs would collaborate to get songs recorded and begin lobbying radio notables to get the songs distributed and broadcast over the air across the country, leading to record sales and concert tours. It was the only way. But today, with myriad digital options for recording and distribution alike, music lovers and music makers have a very open relationship. It simplifies the process a great deal and makes music more available than ever. Intriguing until those crafting melodies from the depths of their souls realized how much passive listening there is without a thought of who the artist is.
And that's where I reenter the picture. Introducing radio listeners to artists, their songs, their stories and more. I even use the latest digital tools to highlight special events (look for the WCLN Christmas 2020 playlist on Spotify).
It's about the music. Sharing the music, more specifically. Music that moves, motivates, calms or excites its listeners to a new or better place. That's what this relationship has become.
Pictured: Sharing music, whether it be the latest hit or a classic, is a thrill for the author, who also helped craft WCLN's Christmas-themed playlist on the air now.