learning from looking back

breyerFrom the spring of 1977 to the fall of 1979, I spent many hours a week in the basement of Breyer Hall. It was the chemistry building at Wheaton College. But I wasn’t studying chemistry. In fact, if I had spent hours studying chemistry, I might not have gotten a D one semester.

(For the record, I didn’t get the D for lack of understanding. In fact, chemistry wasn’t hard to understand, at least first year chemistry. I didn’t turn in the lab reports on time. Or at all. And I neglected to study very much for the exams. And so my first lesson from Breyer was that in order to pass the class, it helps to do the work.)

The studios of the campus radio station, WETN, were in the basement of Breyer.

It was a small 10-watt FM station, but we took our work seriously. And I actually learned some lessons that are still part of my life.

  1. The Bach Mass in B minor is perfect for the end of finals week. And for the melancholy feeling that a commuter student has when all the residential students leave for home and you never left home. Which still teaches me that not everyone in the same place has the same story.
  2. The first Rez Band album (“Awaiting Your Reply“) was cool and we played it. The first Sex Pistols album was crazy and we didn’t play it. But the rawness of punk rock opened my thinking in a way that allows me to have meaningful conversations with a younger friend who practices whatever the proper name for what is known as “screamo” rock.
  3. Editing audio with on a computer with Audacity is way easier than cutting 1/4-inch tape. But I learned editing with tape and still remember the concepts. And use them almost every week.
  4. I served as the promotions director for one semester and still have a hard time remembering that I don’t like promotion.
  5. Stu Johnson spent years as the station manager and broadcasting faculty member for that 10-watt campus station. Stu’s concern was that we learned the concepts well, regardless of the size of the audience. Because faithfulness matters more than station wattage.

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