Welcome to #TBT on JacoBLOG, my excuse to burrow through the vast archives of radio-esque writing. And today's blast from the past – from March 2017 – is one of my favorite posts ever. That's because it is about an eerily universal phenomenon of seemingly everyone who's been on the air in radio – whether you stared at VU meters or computer screens.
Originally titled “Do You Have The Radio Dream?” I have changed the post's name to “Dead Air Dream” based on scores of comments. And to quantify these dreams – or for some of us, nightmares – we included a question in our new AQ3 study of radio air talent about this cerebral phenomenon. And at the end of this #TBT post, I'll share those findings with you, along with info about how you can register for our AQ3 webinar next week.
In the meantime, fire up that REM sleep, and let's see what happens. – FJ
Strange, isn't it? If you've worked on the air in radio for apparently any length of time, you have experienced something that can only be described as a surreal, communal, shared experience.
Like the school dream. Most of us have probably had that dream – or nightmare. It is somehow finals week or the day of a big test, and in our dream, we don't remember having ever gone to class. I've talked to many people who've had this dream, or a variant, so it seems to affect pretty much anyone who's ever gone to school. (Do kids who are home schooled have it, too?)
As a former smoker, I've also had “the cigarette dream.” That one's crazy because even if you haven't smoked in decades, it can sneak up on you. In the dream, you think you've started smoking again. Crazy, right?
Fred Jacobs shows radio personalities how to take their game to the next level in this webinar recording.
But then there's “the dead air dream,” something I was reminded of yesterday after reading this Kelly Hammer post on Facebook:
So, in Kelly's case, it's an on-air CD or a cart that's running down, and you can't find the elusive one you're supposed to play next. There's a rack or shelves of CDs nearby, but you somehow can't get your gears moving to retrieve it. And all the while, the dream clock is ticking, and you're fighting against the perils of DEAD AIR.
In my version of this dream, there's floor to ceiling albums against the back wall of the studio, the record is running down, and I somehow can't put my hands on the album I want to play next.
I wonder if today's version of the nightmare is a blue screen on the main computer in the studio. Or is it a mouse that somehow won't work? Or some kind of software glitch?
The weird thing is that my time as a DJ was limited to campus radio and a few odd shifts here and there, filling in for my airstaff. And yet, I have “the dream” every couple of years or so.
Based on Kelly's post and anecdotal conversations with radio people, I'm betting that many of you do, too. And if that's the case, can we surmise that anyone who's been on the air at a music station for any length of time has had “the dream?” And maybe it keeps recurring for all of us in some form of weird dream rotation (hopefully, it's not a “power”).
And that would also mean that Bob Pittman has “the dream.” And Scott Shannon. And Jarl Mohn. Whether you're a corporate exec in New York or a weekender in Anchorage, chances are the one thing we all have in common in radio is “the dream.” It's a strange and unusual bond to be sure, but I'm thinking it's shared by thousands of former and current radio people.
They say that radio isn't brain surgery. But it would probably require the expertise of a neurologist to explain this phenomenon – how an entire group of people in the same industry can have virtually the same nocturnal dream experience. Then again, I wonder what dream brain surgeons share. It's very likely a lot scarier than that Bob Seger record running out.
Now onto AQ3, where we actually quantified how many air personalities actually have “the dream” – and how often it occurs:
A slim majority (52%) has “the dream” at least occasionally; one in ten poor souls has it regularly. And then there are the nearly one in four (24%) who never experience this radio oddity or have no idea what we were talking about.
Check out the inset at right that breaks down those who at least occasionally experience “the dream.” The data show that the older you are, the greater chance you know all about this nocturnal phenomenon. But fewer than four in ten of radio's on-air Millennials at least occasionally wake up with those control room sweats. That suggests that in time, “the dream” may in fact become a quaint memory of old DJs.
In the meantime, please join our free webinar on Wednesday, August 25 at 2pm ET. I'll walk you through the key findings of AQ3, an exclusive look at the hearts and souls of commercial radio air talent here in the U.S. You can register for it here. – FJ
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