Radio – I Listened With Frequency

It looks like a square with a corner cut off.

In 1972, when I was 10 years old, my dad’s parents gave me a Christmas present that would change my life. A Sony ICR-1826 model transistor radio.

This small, white cube would send me down a career path that a lucky few travel.

Late at night, long after I was supposed to have been asleep, I would turn the radio down low next to my pillow and tune in voices from hundreds, even thousands of miles away.

Dallas, Chicago, Nashville, Denver, San Antonio. I was amazed. This tiny, battery-powered box could harvest my choice of entertainment with the turn of a dial.

I’d lie awake in the dark and listen to the announcers carry on a conversation with me without me saying a word. They’d talk over the music and somehow magically stop talking just as the singer came in. They’d tell me what was happening in the world. They’d promise me that the next big hit song would be heard on their station first.

I couldn’t get enough of it.

I became fascinated with the medium called radio.

Coincidentally, that same year, my hometown of Ashdown, Arkansas, got its own radio station. Unfortunately, my new radio was AM only. The new radio station was on the FM dial. No problem. My parents’ console stereo had FM, and to my amazement, it sounded far better than an AM signal.

I would lie in front of the speakers on the console stereo, and if a song I liked a lot came on, I’d get up, slide the top across, and turn it up.

Now, radio was personal. The guy talking on the stereo wasn’t just on the radio, he was on the radio from down the road.

A few years later, my aunt went to work in a secretarial position at the local station, and I asked, not thinking it possible, if I could go to work with her one day and see how radio worked. Her boss said OK, and I found myself sitting inside a radio station control room with a real, live DJ.

I was hooked. This was what I wanted to do.

During my senior year of high school, one of my classmates dared me to go to the radio station and ask for a job. I took the dare. He rode to the station with me at lunch, and I walked in and asked for a job. The manager looked at me, and said, “Be here Sunday morning at 5:30.”

I don’t have a recording of my debut, but I’m sure I was awful. He told me to be back next Sunday morning at 5:30. And so it went. That was the beginning of 25 years in the radio business.

I met celebrities, and I met everyday folk just like myself. I was a part of something very special and I knew it. I got paid to have fun. Not many folks can say that.

In the late 90s, I put my degree to use. I do a lot of writing now. But I built a recording studio in my home before I left the industry, which allows me to keep my toe in the water, as it were, doing commercials and the like.

Radio now is mostly computers. For the most part, the DJ has gone the way of the blacksmith and the buggy salesman.

But for a quarter century, radio put food on my family’s table and fun in my life. It took me from Arkansas to Texas, where I raised a family, and completed my broadcasting career.

I still have that Sony AM radio, and it still works. Sometimes, late at night, I tune in voices from far away and smile. And I say a word of thanks to a guy named Steve, who told me to be there Sunday morning at 5:30.


©2015 John Moore

For more of John’s musings, visit


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