I first got involved in college/community radio when I was 15. Even before then, I was a big fan of radio - mainly because my mother wouldn’t let me watch that newfangled thing called MTV. As soon as I could, I got my broadcast license and hit the airwaves. It’s been a thread in my life ever since, and I continue to host a weekly show on the non-commercial community radio station I started with a small team nearly 20 years ago (WOOL.fm).
Being involved in radio has taught me so much. Presently, the biggest benefit for me is the mindfulness and centeredness that it gives me. During that time each week, I am alone with my thoughts; I’m not focused on what I should be doing for my patients or my business.
I’m focused only on the matter at hand
… how long is this song, when is it time to fade this channel down and bring in the next channel so that it sounds good, which song would sound good after this one? I listen to the music obscenely loudly, spend that time focused in a different way, and no matter how the show itself turns out I find myself rejuvenated when it’s all said and done.
When I was a teenager and just starting with hosting and producing a show, it was a lot to juggle. Choosing songs to play (which is at least half the fun), navigating the equipment (yes, we did use turntables regularly - and there is an art to it), making sure that all of the requirements were met (checking transmitters, entering information into station logs, etc), doing my level best to not violate any FCC rules and jeopardize everything. It required a LOT of focus, and I think that because it’s such a hands-on activity, it really showed me the impact of mindfulness before I even knew what that was.
I tended to play short, high energy songs. (That’s still what I play, actually.) I played a lot of Ramones songs - if you aren’t familiar, I don’t think they ever did a song that was more than three minutes long. Their greatest hits record has 20 songs on it and is 50 minutes long.
I got really good at knowing what three minutes felt like
If I had to go pull more records from the library, I had to make sure that I had the next thing cued up so I could easily switch over when the time came. If I had to use the bathroom, I had to either hold it or pick a longer song to cover me while I dashed down the hallway. Knowing what three minutes felt like became almost second nature, like finding your way home. You don’t think about it, you just know.
Why am I telling you this? Like all the other things I tell you - because I think it could help.
During a recent show, I was sitting behind the console listening to something really loud. It was my time for deep thinking, and I found myself playing a highlights reel in my head of all of my experiences with radio over the years.
Then it clicked. This was a major part of my efficiency. Being in the moment, focused on the matter at hand, and really knowing in my gut how much time I had and how to use it.
Just like charting.
Did my broadcast license make my nurse practitioner license that much more powerful? It might have. Those early experiences of knowing, deeply, about time did probably build the foundation that allowed me to leave the clinic every day at 5:00 with 97-100% of my charts closed - and to do it for four quarters in a row. I think it also helped me with dictation, but that’s a story for another time.
Do you have an equivalent? Is there something that has helped you to know, on a deep level, when time was up? Or do you find yourself working hard to find that feeling?
I can help you with that. Whether you want to be more effective at your charting or you want to host a radio show, you tell me - and I’ll help you.
originally published on March 3, 2023