Since I started thinking about my college days again for last week’s post, I thought I’d share another college story.
When I first moved to Kalamazoo in order to attend Western Michigan University, music was something that was still primarily enjoyed by listening to the radio (that makes me feel very old all of the sudden). Illegal file sharing was yet to be made illegal, and the iPod was only a glimmer in Steve Jobs’ eye. While searching the dial for a station worth listening to, I stumbled across my college’s radio station, WIDR, and instantly fell in love.
I still get nostalgic for WIDR and many’s the time when I wish that I could get the signal where I live now. All of the DJs were students, long awkward pauses and dead air were not uncommon, and I had never heard of most of the musicians they played, but it all worked. WIDR had the perfect mix of loveable amateurism and exposure to the underground music scene.
But enough of my gushing and on to the story.
I learned where the station was located after being invited to speak about the Valhalla Norwegian Society, of which I was president at the time. As it happened, WIDR’s studio was located in the same building as the registered student organization mailboxes, so in the weeks following the interview, I would stop in at random to say hi to the DJs who interviewed me with whom I had struck up a friendship.
On one such visit, rather than ask if my DJ friends were available, I stepped up to the main desk and said, “I’m here to pick up my prize pack.” Now, there was no prize pack waiting for me, but I thought that on the off chance that I could get a free t-shirt or something, I’d try my luck.
“Prize pack?” said the receptionist. “Did someone call you and tell you that you won something?”
“Um,” I replied. “Well, no.”
“Then, why did you come in?” asked the receptionist, and rightfully so.
“Um,” I replied. “I just wanted to see if I could get something. Maybe a t-shirt or something.”
“Oh,” said the receptionist. “Well, I can’t give you anything.”
“Okay,” I said. “Would you mind telling John that I’m out here then, if he’s not on-air at the moment, I mean.”
“Actually,” said a woman sitting against the wall who I had completely missed, “I was about to go record an interview with John, so he’ll be busy for a little bit.”
“Oh,” I said. “It’s cool. I’ll just check back later.”
“Wait a sec,” said the new woman. “I heard what you were trying to do with the prize pack thing. Clever and ballsy of you. If you wait around until after the interview, I’d love to give you a couple tickets to my show tonight. Maybe you could bring a date.”
I waited. True to her word, this mystery musician put my name down for two tickets to her show that night. This turn of events gave me sufficient reason to ask out a girl that I’d been interested in a for a few weeks. What a great first date story that would be, I thought (isn’t it funny how we want to make our lives fit into clever story arcs?). To my surprise, the girl agreed and off we went.
The seats were prime. The music was good. My date and I were enjoying ourselves. And then, around the middle of the set, the musician stops and says, “Where’s Josh? I met Josh earlier at the college radio station and he told me that he was going to be on a first date tonight. Josh, are you here?”
I raised my hand. People from all directions stared at me… and my date. I should probably say that the girl that I brought to this event was a shy girl who didn’t like the spotlight.
“How’s the date going so far?”
I looked over at my date. She gave me a thumbs up, but the look on her face was not happy.
“Um, great!” I lied.
“Cool,” she said, and then she finished her show. The first date became the last date, and that was okay. Nothing ventured, nothing gained and all that. It just wasn’t meant to be.
Afterward, I stopped back into the radio station to thank them for doing the interview with the musician that led to me getting free show tickets. My DJ friends invited me to talk about the evening on the air. I told them that it was a good evening, but that things didn’t work out.
That was when they decided that it would be a fun show segment to have girls call in to the station and go on dates with me (WIDR would be footing the bill) and then I would talk about my experiences the next day. At the time, I thought nothing of being pimped out by my college radio station and thought it would be a fun way to see concerts and such for free.
The promotion never came together however, and now I’m really glad that it didn’t. Now, I’m married to a wonderful woman (a bit on the shy side, I guess I have a type). And though I’m sure that my wife would never have left me when confronted with a spotlight on us, I’m glad that our story started differently.