Radio days dream

13 Nov

On November 10, I had an email conversation with someone I’d contacted because of his involvement in the arts in New York City. I was asking for a recommendation on where to hear a performance of a particular musical work. In the course of the conversation, I was surprised to learn that he had worked in radio news earlier in his life; so had I. We both commented that we miss those days.

When I was in college, I had also worked on the programming side of radio. One of my favorite projects was a weekly show I initiated, combining the music and folklore of different cultures. (I like to claim I invented world beat.) I knew almost nothing about either, so it was a big adventure each week to go to the university’s excellent music-school library and rummage through the record bins.

The narrative of the dream I woke with on the morning of November 11, “Table Set in a Tiny Room,” had no reference to any of that. But the tiny room reminded me of a dorm room (college), as well as a radio studio, and the image of the set table (actually a desk) is what immediately clued me in to the connection with the previous day’s conversation. Here’s my sketch of the “large, flat, pewter-gray plate with concentric grooves, and a smaller, round, black, possibly plastic piece at the center of it”:

Turntable sketch

The plate on the desk in my dream reminds me of a radio studio turntable

The radio studio turntables as I remember them were heavy, gray or black affairs with concentric corregations on the surface, much like the plate in my dream’s table setting. (plate > “platter” > a vinyl record). The studio turntables were built into the countertop, similar to the way the flat plate in my dream rests on the desk’s surface. The two blueish rectangles to the left, although out of scale and rather distantly offset, make me think of the turntable’s tone arm, which is swiveled over the record and “dropped” so the needle can set in the record’s groove and turn physical texture into audible music: For readers too young to remember turntables, this photo is from Audio Junkies’ Turntable Basics:

American Audio TTD-2400 turntable

American Audio TTD-2400 turntable
(photo from a deleted classified ad)

The treasure hunt behind this Dreaming New York Treasures blog is providing me the same excitement of exploration I felt when I produced and hosted my ethnic music show. And now I’m in another city full of fascinating variations of ethnicity—something I had stopped appreciating by becoming a jaded New Yorker.

What about that pitchfork-like utensil at the left, hey? Maybe I had more of the devil in me in my college days.

And synchronistically…I write in this post about the devil in me just as I read a response to my email announcement of this blog—someone recalling the Metro North ride along the Hudson to Westchester County and pointing out that it passes the Bronx stop at Spuyten Duyvil, a Dutch name I’ve seen variously interpreted as “spinning devil” or “spitting devil.”

(Added a bit later:)


The Paley Center for Media‘s New York location, formerly known as (I think I have this name right) the Museum of Radio and Television.


One Response to “Radio days dream”


  1. What my German great-aunt and Run-DMC have in common « - April 18, 2012

    […] post about other aspects of that dream is one of the very first I wrote for this blog ["Radio days dream"]. There are still more aspects, which I’ll write about in the […]

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