I Am the Tortoise

Answering phones is a small part of what I do. After I greet incoming callers, most of them hesitate before speaking back. During those first moments of awkward silence, they try to discern whether I am a pre-recorded greeting or a live person. When they discover I am real, they are aghast and a little embarrassed.

Does this mean I sound like a robot? Do I sound like the creepy moviefone guy? I asked, and the answers I got were encouraging. Many people mumble over the phone, but I consciously avoid it. Most people rush through and abbreviate their words over the phone, but I try to enunciate. This has given me what others say is a 'voice for radio.'

This begs an pretty important question, one that has been rattling around inside of me for a while. Writing inhabits a place that cannot be replicated, and I will continue to nurture my work here with ongoing, unpublished works in progress. On the other hand, what about podcasting? Truth is, I've always wanted to do work that allowed me to use my voice. While my ambition is far from meteoric, branching out into another medium feels like the next step for me.

I dabbled with broadcasting opportunities in my youth, but nothing felt right. I explored my options in college radio, but was discouraged the moment I stepped foot into that scene. (At that time, any potential candidate required an encyclopedic knowledge of ska and punk to get the attention of the college station managers, and I didn't have that.) I'm sure things have changed now, but I am also now too old for college radio.

If pushing straight into public or corporate broadcasting were an option, and if it were only an issue of being paid to do something well, there would be no contest. I would sign up on day one. Unfortunately, there is nothing glamorous about the radio experience, and for the most part, doing it means languishing in a thankless, low profile service industry where you must constantly cater to things - music, sponsors, station managers - that run contrary to what you enjoy.

All is not lost, though. People like me have the option to self produce and self promote. It's a win-win. If nothing more comes of it, I still get to do something I love doing, and I win. If I branch out, I win.

My passion for broadcasting goes back to a childhood spent crafting unscripted cassette tape programs with a cassette recorder, and editor's ear, and a host of keyboards. It was the first artistic endeavor I ever undertook. I devised fictional shows - complete with host, sidekicks, fake commercials, and various skits, programs and jingles. I pursued this creative venture without any prodding from anyone. I loved to do it.

I was - and am - passionate about music. I used to really enjoy goth and electronic/industrial music, but I was steeped in enough other musical genres to play almost anything. Now, though, I feel my musical passions are broader than they have ever been. I have political interests which may or may not border on obsessive, and I have plenty to say. I do voices. I have a partner who makes a great foil for me. My wife and I are so different in our approach to the issues of the day, in fact, that something featuring the two of us would be damned entertaining. We have friends who are funnier and more delightful than a whole host of the so-called 'paid professionals' in broadcasting today.

I make no implications about my own talent. I don't know that I have it. I do know, however, that doing something I deeply enjoy ensures that if I do have talent, I will most likely use it.

It has taken me a very, very long time to get to a place where I feel I know myself and know what I want to do with my life and how I want to touch the world around me. I often wish I could travel back to the younger me and kick him around for being so un-focused. Then again, I must remember that I would not be who I am now, had he not taken his time understanding the world around him. He was a slow learner.

It's easy to envy the young and ambitious. Sometimes I wish I had that spark they have. There is a bright side for tortoises like me, though. We who nurture our abilities, memories and experiences and let them breathe are capable of creating rich, compelling experiences. Those who set about to change the world before they understand their place in it, run the risk of having everything they say sound like a sales pitch.

I knew people in college, not even halfway through film school, who were convinced that by graduation they'd have made their magnum opus. They were in such a hurry to sell themselves and get others on board with their projects that they forgot to work on their craft and forgot to live and grow and let the experience of life fill them. They are the hares of the world. They have worth. They force the world toward new stages of growth and evolution. But we tortoises have worth too. We may not construct the eye-popping facades, but we furnish them and make them livable.


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