Talking to People in the Early Hours

Last week I began a new assignment at KPBS, the public radio station where I’ve worked for 13 years. I started working as the San Diego host of Morning Edition.

This means getting up at 430 a.m., being at work at 500 a.m. and doing my first newscast at 530. It’s been a challenge to my lifestyle. But it’s returned me to the intimate relationship I used to have with listeners when I was the host of a talk show called These Days. This relationship is so intimate, in fact, that one of my co-workers told me that when his morning radio alarm goes off, in his bedroom, he’s there with his wife and with me.

The thought of being in that kind of menage a trois was not creepy. It reminded me how personal radio is. People let you into their homes when they turn on the dial. You are not a body in the same space, but you are a presence and a personal force that can be comforting or maddening. You need to remember to understand that and respect it.  

I used to live next door to a man who listened to public radio. He recalled hearing my voice one morning as he lay in bed. He reached to turn off the radio, but soon realized I was outside his window talking to my son in my backyard. We may sometimes want to turn off the people we live with, but that kind of switch doesn’t exist.

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