Describe an environment in which you feel most comfortable. What do you do there and why?
I step into the studio, a room dominated by a towering record collection and the flashing fluorescent lights of a soundboard. It’s a very small room, but its endless possibilities for transmitting different types of sound make it seem larger than it actually is. I turn on my microphone, and every ounce of stress and discomfort immediately recedes into the depths of my consciousness. My mind then becomes centered around three things, and three only: the music, monitoring the soundboard, and my commentary.
Growing up in a household filled with instruments and the unconditional support of my mother (a professional flutist and performing arts teacher) has made music a vital piece of my identity from an early age onward. I started playing the trumpet when I was eight, then joined the Marin Symphony Youth Orchestra and began giving band lessons in high school. I’ve also always loved the field of broadcasting. As a child, I would sneak a radio under my blankets to listen to baseball game commentators late into the night. There was something about the announcer’s sheer excitement and ability to perform so well on the spot that captivated me. I remember constantly putting televised sporting events on mute and trying to emulate the styles of my favorite broadcasters in my own way. It was as if they had created a fusion of knowledge and poetry. Soon, I had the opportunity to strive for my own fusion, as host of my own music show at KWMR public radio station.
After weeks of soundboard equipment training and regulations lessons, I finally aired my first solo studio session, which was a Flamenco tribute to my favorite Spanish guitar player, Paco De Lucía. I now host a weekly hour-long show, which I named “Changes” after deciding to take on the challenge of featuring a different genre of music each week. Thanks to the format itself, I have been exposed to a vast range of unfamiliar styles and cultures I never would have fallen in love with otherwise.
But perhaps the studio’s most rewarding quality was its ability to act as a soundproof barrier to the outside world in more than just a literal sense. One of the first things I noticed after my first show was that the sound booth had a way of blocking all kinds of school-related anxiety and general stress from entering my mind. Several months ago I was robbed at gunpoint, a situation that was magnified when half the people in my life urged me to testify, while the other half advised against testifying because of the offenders’ gang involvement and strong potential for retaliation. But the studio did not ask me whether or not I would go to court, nor did it attempt to resurface the experience with a bombardment of questions. Instead, it caused every negative emotion of immense anger and fear to float away with the soundwaves of the music, allowing me to produce my shows to the best of my ability without distraction. I now know that I can apply musical outlets as coping mechanisms for dealing with pressure, and I hope that realization will allow me to keep a clear mind as I face stressful situations in the future.
For me, KWMR public radio is more than just a place to discover a profusion of new music and practice what I love–it’s a sanctuary. Whether it’s coming from inside an orchestra pit or from a radio frequency, sound is not only a catalyst for creative expression, but also a wonderful form of meditation. As I move on from KWMR, I want to keep that lesson with me.