Notes from the Pandemic #1

Just days after my first show, we got word that the station was closing as a result of the pandemic. Of course, like all of the other volunteer DJ’s at the station, I was saddened by the loss of community and our inability to share the music that means so much to us. Privately, I donned my headphones and escaped into the music that brings me joy, the songs that have already gotten me through so much in my life. While it is obviously a pleasure to bury oneself in music, it is really not the same as sharing it, which is what I got into radio to do when I volunteered at my first community station so many years ago. This sharing is what drives us Freeform volunteers.

A couple of weeks went by. All the while, I am making and imagining live shows that may or may not be shared with our Freeform listeners and family in the future. There was something soothing in the act of producing playlists with the bright hope that they might be shared some day. What I did not anticipate, was that I, the DJ, was going to be the one gifted a playlist. 

“Who said you can’t remain socially distant and play music together?”

See, I had some really kind feedback from my first show from random listeners. One of those listeners tuned in to hear my second show, only to find the station notice that our regular programming was halted due to the current outbreak. He shared his disappointment and, to my surprise, sent me a Spotify playlist entitled “Anita O’Day and Carmen McRae Sing Songs for the Socially Distanced” with the subject heading, “The Little Things That Mean So Much,” referencing the title of one of the American Standards included in the lineup. In spite of my age, I admit to being as old fashioned as my musical tastes and had never used Spotify. Regardless of my hesitation to sign up for anything online, I became a Spotify user, just so I could receive the gift of music, one actually inspired by me: a humble, early-morning, mid-week, volunteer DJ on our shared station. 

I was touched by the gesture, and appreciative of the listener’s good taste. He had clearly put in a great deal of time and effort – time and effort any DJ knows well – to create this thoughtful playlist for me. Listening to it on that chilly, early-Spring morning delivered pure delight. It was like when you have been eating your own cooking for ages, then someone else cooks you a meal, and a really tasty one at that. I feasted on that playlist in much the same way, relishing every considerately placed song with pith that played. I sang along to the familiar tunes and was pleasantly surprised by songs I did not know, and bopped, as I do, all along the way. It was a special reminder that receiving music is often a much greater gift than being able to share it.

Since that day, I have listened to that playlist again and again. I have found new favorites that I have excitedly added to future radio shows, should I have the good fortune of getting on the air live again. And every time I play one of those songs, from now until the end of time, I will remember the many gifts our Freeform listeners offer us. May we all be healed by the music, and the little things that mean so much.

DJ Ebee, The Oddity

To enjoy the listener’s very fine playlist, click here

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