Return of the radio dead air dream

posted by Jeff | Sunday, July 7, 2019, 11:30 AM | comments: 0

It has been years, but I had the radio dead air dream the other night. The way that this usually goes is that I'm in some situation where I'm back on the air at a radio station, and I can't find the next CD to cue up a song, so I'm transmitting silence. (And give me a break about it being CD's... that's what we had when I was working professionally as an "air personality.")

This particular instance of the dream was interesting, because it bled a little into the moving into a dorm dream, and I remember a ton of the context and feelings. I was moving into a college dorm, but apparently that already happened. I was returning to a broadcast complex on campus that was totally unfamiliar, so not where I went to school. The radio station was dormant, which makes sense since my last visit to my college station some years ago was rarely on the air during the day (and it's a damn shame). At this point in the dream, I remember now feeling very adult, that my intention of being there was to teach others. That's a little presumptuous, because I haven't been on the air in almost ten years, but dreams never make any kind of chronological sense.

So when I couldn't find the next song, or any CD's at all (ha! maybe that was the problem), I remember the intense feeling that I had to set a good example for the kids who would be learning from me. When the failure occurred, I remember calmly trying to diagnose the problem and not freaking out, much in the way that I would today approach debugging software instead of pounding my keyboard in frustration. That's a distinctive difference in this instance of the dream, in that I did not experience the normal anxiety that I associate with it.

Still, there's a lot to unpack here. I'm not sure why I still think about radio, with a decade since that last air shift for fun at my college station, and 13 years before that when I did it professionally. I'll always tell people it was a lousy, low-paying profession, full of egos and nonsense, but spinning tunes for people is fun, and I was pretty good at it.

The teaching angle makes a lot of contextual sense in my life now. Obviously I'm a parent, but I'm also in the largest scope leadership position of my career. Professional development is intensely important to me, sure, but I don't teach software developers in an instructional sense. Heck, if I'm hiring right, they should all be better at it than me. But that accountability for people getting better, that obviously weighs on me and I take it seriously. I think it's healthy to worry about that sort of thing.

I imagine there's a little bit of desire there to prove myself as well. If I had to be top technical guy at work and less of a manager, there would be some areas that I'm definitely not experienced enough even if I conceptually understand those areas. That's a minor motivator for continuing to work on my open source project, for sure, to maintain some street cred so I'm never the out-of-touch manager. I've worked for those people before and they suck.

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