See You On the Radio
I have big news.
Listen to me reading today’s Substack:
I've been waiting a while to tell you this. Yesterday, I started training for my new position as Weekend Edition Host & Reporter for WXXI Public Media, the NPR affiliate here in Rochester. It feels surreal even to say it (and I'm sure my weekend shifts that begin before 6am will feel even more surreal ... cue the coffee machine).
In many ways, this is a dream come true.
I started getting alerts for public media jobs a couple of years ago, but they were always based somewhere far from where I lived. Coincidentally, around that time, I also began regularly connecting with someone who worked for NPR—and she told me she thought I would make a great radio host. Really? You think so?
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Prior to that time in my life, radio was always something I wanted to do, but only in some vague sense. I'm in my 40s, and although I have 13 years of podcasting experience, that brand of broadcast journalism is not something I've dabbled with before.
When I told my brother about my new gig, he was thrilled, but also (in true older brother fashion) perplexed. I explained to him that there's not as hard a line between podcasting and radio broadcasting as there once was, and that my new role at WXXI is equal parts hosting, writing, and creating and pitching stories—the latter of which I have ample experience with, thanks mostly to my work at VegNews.
As I heard myself explaining this to my brother, I realized that perhaps radio isn't as far a cry as I had thought. The more I thought about it, the more it sunk in that I seemed to be a pretty great fit—and my somewhat random background working in various aspects of media-making seemed to be coming together quite nicely in this new (to me) tendril of media.
And so here I am: learning how to use a master control board, which is perhaps the most intimidating part, but I'm up for the challenge (that said, please email me if you have experience with master control so I can pick your brain). The few people I've told about this job (prior to this announcement) have asked me when they can listen to me on the air (which, of course, also streams online). It's unclear right now exactly when I’ll start in that capacity, but my guess is my mic will be hot beginning early in the new year. I promise to keep you posted.
This new hat that I'll be wearing will become a part of the rest of my hat collection. And in case you think I'm nuts, rest assured that even though I do have quite the collection (which includes authoring, co-hosting and helping to run Our Hen House, hosting the forthcoming VegNews podcast and keeping up with my advice column, consulting for Kinder Beauty, and executive coaching), rest assured that I have been working hard with my team to delegate what I can, drop what I can, and manage my schedule so that I have proper time off to refuel.
I can't help but think back to those folx who had planted the seeds to pursue radio. Not only was there the woman from NPR who casually mentioned I should host, but last year—after WXXI covered a story on our net-zero home—I got to chatting with the photographer who came out for the story, and he happened to mention that I'd fit in well at WXXI. You think so?
Clearly, what can be an off-handed comment to the person saying it can make a world of difference to the person hearing it.
Recently, I received a Facebook message from my high school writing teacher; let's call him "Cat" (that's a part of his last name, and we all called him "Cat" for short). He told me that he had a copy of Becky Bea—a children's book I wrote, all in rhyme, when I was 16 or 17. I remember that my mom (an artist) had illustrated it, and we made copies and gave it a spiral binding. When I showed Cat the book 27 years ago, he started crying, telling me I should get it published (which I had no idea how to do, so, sadly, I didn't pursue that).
Last week, after some Facebook message back-and-forths, we hopped on the phone. He has to be nearing 80 at this point. I told him I couldn't believe he still had the book. He asked if I wanted him to read it to me. I was a bit taken aback, but I said sure—it had been nearly three decades since I had read it. So Cat read me Becky Bea, and he teared up again. "You should get this published, Jasmin," he said. "I said that then and I stand by it."
I took Cat's writing elective for three years in a row, even though you were only really allowed to take it once. He had gotten special permission from my guidance counselor for me to be a repeat customer. During our call last week, I thanked him for that, telling him it meant a lot to me during my difficult high school years. "You needed an anchor," he said. "I was happy to be that person for you. In 37 years of teaching, you are the student I remember the most." Really? I am?
Where would we be without people who believe in us? Where would we be without those who legitimately think we can do that thing we dream of doing? These seemingly small moments stick with us, ricocheting in our minds.
Could I really do it? Yes, you really can.
See you on the radio.
P.S. Today is Giving Tuesday, and I hope you will consider supporting Our Hen House's efforts to change the world for animals (your donations will be tripled!). Thank you!
P.P.S. Last week, I had the pleasure of being a guest on Rachel Krantz's podcast, Help Existing. We talk all about the nuts and bolts of going (more) vegan. If you are vegan-curious, I hope you'll take a listen.
Congratulations dear Jasmine!! What an amazing role :)
Wow! First of all, congratulations and second of all I f****** love NPR! Now I know my donations will also help an amazing author, writer, and vegan friend! Third of all, what a crazy quantum entanglement, I also still talk to a high school teacher who was my anchor and I consider him like a father to me. He was my history teacher not my English teacher but still, yet another coincidence!