An attempt to make sense of things in a random universe, one Friday at a time.

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Location: Philippines

Leaving my footsteps for you to find and follow, my love.

06 August 2010


In the late 1990’s I worked for about a year in a radio station in Naga, first as a newscaster, and then eventually becoming a newscaster-slash-disk jockey. Incidentally, it was also that particular FM radio station’s heyday, having placed number one in major surveys for two consecutive years, and one more time within the year that I worked there. I was part of the air team, and it was something unconventional for me at the time.

Our DJ’s booth was a regular-sized booth, with large picture windows on three sides. The DJ’s console sat in the center, the CD player desk was on the right, the guest microphone was further to the right, and the turntable was on the left. The library of CDs and vinyl records was right behind the DJ’s seat, and we have memorized the contents of the CDs so we could pick out a CD from the stack for a particular song without having to read through the CD’s contents.

The booth also had mood lighting. When the one on board was feeling a little jazzy, he’d close all the blinds, turn off all the lights and leave on the blue spotlights trained onto the console. It made it a little difficult to see, but we could navigate the controls even when blindfolded. Time slots with a rock playlist had the red and yellow lights turned on, and pop (which we didn’t like much) didn’t merit mood lighting and closed blinds. But even though we didn’t like pop so much, whenever pop stars and recording artists from Manila would visit the station we would give them a warm welcome, and we would let them joke around with us inside the booth, which we would air live, and listeners could phone in and join in the banter.

Our big boss was Brenda, herself a rather wild and raving Valkyrie, who was based in Legazpi City where the head office of the network (which she owns) was. She would show up suddenly at the station on random days with her peculiar ideas about how to sound sexy on the air, how to to market our airtime, and how to deal with that pesky advertiser who wanted the voice-overs on his advertising materials to sound like someone was choking on his food. And then she would ramble on about something else, walk out of the conference room in mid-sentence, and harp on the technicians about something completely unrelated, and then she would convene the TV people and talk to them about the coverage of the Penafrancia Festival that was, like, ten months away, and then, just as suddenly, leave, leaving behind bilaos of pancit canton and a case of Coke Litros. No wonder we felt cool; our big boss was insane and never felt it important to rein us in, so we were, happily, all over the place, just like she was.

We lived only in the present. We had cellphones and pagers, wore jeans and Tretorn sneakers, went to street parties, played billiards, drank flaming drinks, listened to Bjork, went swimming at 2 o’clock in the morning, and were always the first to play the newest songs in the city. We were young, immortal, inviolable, and defiant of the times and of playlists. We were a rather uproarious bunch, didn’t care much about what other people said, but we lived our lives in hi-fidelity.

That was almost two decades ago, and I never looked back to that time until now. I realize how different I have become now, and how far I have driven myself. Thus, in loving memory of who I used to be, I play the old songs, remember old friends, old stories, and my old life, things that I will never have again, but am grateful for still being able to remember.

[Image credits: 1, 2, 3]


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