I've written before that whenever I would visit a new town for any given amount of time, I would spend an hour or so cruising the local radio stations to get my bearings on what the town had to offer - radio waves wise. The highlight would be stumbling upon a late night radio trainee or microphone nymphette whose obvious discomfort behind the big swivel chair is magnified with each word they stutter and every phrase they awkwardly utter.
I know its train-wreck entertainment at the expense of another, but isn't that what "paying professional dues" is all about?
Though some may consider them to be the bottom feeders of the radio industry -- the local O & O (owned and operated) radio stations that, around these parts are either Spanish language or religion based, provide some tasty fodder for jaded AM/FM digital dial tuners like myself.
When not preaching the gospel live in-studio or playing a taped recording of last Sunday's early A.M. church service that sounds like it was recorded on little Joanie's SpongeBob Squarepants cassette deck with built in electret microphone, you may be lucky enough to hear a radio swap segment ("Bob Nelson has some 4" stick-on letters he isn't using and would like to swap them for a roll of bailing wire..."), smatterings of local ag news, or even a "What's on your Mind?" call-in session from folks who just have to use up their non-rollover cell phone minutes.
Even the big-town radio stations that get most of it's programming directives from their parent company media conglomerates (Clear Channel, etc.) are fun to give a car-bound listen -- after hours and on the weekends, that is.
For it's at these lower commercial rate time slots that the local stations are less inclined to be under the scrutiny of their megabuck Q-rating concerned leash holders and allow interns and barely out-of-broadcasting school graduates to take over the airwaves.
These swing arm microphone newbies are less concerned with entertaining the 4 or 5 sleep deprived listeners than they are in developing a marketable on-air personality and demo reel.
I can only say how painfully enjoyable it is to listen to these "kids" find their broadcasting voices and I heartily recommend that if you ever find yourself in a smaller than Mega-Metropolis radio market, stay up late one night and flip on the radio in your motel room.
Give a listen and experience a one-on-one adventure with a fellow human being on what may be their introductory journey into the world of professional broadcasting.