The Pulse on WHYY

As I noted a few weeks ago, I recorded a version of my Ignite Philly talk which would air on WHYY. It aired on friday on a program called the Pulse. It felt very surreal. A video piece and article also appeared.

I went to WHYY a on a wednesday to record the studio version of the talk. I had the idea to do it myself, and would have felt content to just record it in my apartment, but I’ll take a professional studio if offered. I sat in a soundproof room with a pair of good headphones and a microphone suspended from a wire framework. When growing up my Mom said I should go into broadcasting and now I felt what she meant. Sitting in that chair in that booth just felt so right. We did the presentation in two takes, and did some interview footage afterward. A photographer also took some shots.

Zack then offered to take me on a tour. Of course I said yes. I have known WHYY since childhood. I used to love the actual mechanisms of radio and television broadcasting. I would sometimes wake up early and turn on WHYY, channel 12 on the television, and watch the test pattern end and the opening station identification and information play. That moment of transition felt somehow magical to me, plus I enjoyed the part about the antenna’s location and power output. Touring the radio station felt like a childhood dream come true.

We walked past the studios where they record Fresh Air and Radio Times. We saw some offices. I touched a video camera and a guy from the union yelled at me. We entered a cool server room. I asked what kind of servers, but Zack didn’t know. He did find a reel-to-reel degausser, an instrument for erasing magnetic reel-to-reel tapes. They don’t use them anymore, it has all gone digital, but the piece of equipment brought back memories, especially for Zack who did that as his first job.

I left, and Zack said he would email me when he knew when the piece would air, and finally I got the date, December 20. Shortly before that, Kimberly Painter came to my condo to do a video interview. She had specific instructions to video my cat. Starseed has become a video star! She asked some questions and got some footage. I found it funny when she asked why I did it. She had worked with a blind man in the past who wanted to let everyone know that blind people could lead normal lives. I said that actually my friend Adam just came up with the idea himself, and told me about it one time when I went to Indy Hall – much less exciting.

On thursday night, Zack sent a link to an article with a studio version of my Ignite Philly speech. I felt concerned when it only came through in mono. Audiophiles have notoriously picky attitudes, so I messaged him immediately. He assured me that it would air in stereo. The article also contained Kim’s video. It provided some more in depth information about the touch tours, and I enjoyed the sound of the Bertoia sculpture.

Finally 09:00 AM came, and the radio piece aired. I sat transfixed and listened to a wonderful edit of portions from the studio presentation mixed with the interview. The moment of silence when everyone concentrated on their third eye felt magical. I’d like to think I raised Philadelphia’s vibrations a little. It has also made people more aware of echolocation, and of the one organization teaching it, World Access for the Blind.

Going to WHYY gave me a wonderful opportunity, and I thank Zack and his audio guy and everyone else affiliated with the Pulse for making it possible. Who knows, perhaps it will start a broadcasting career. I will definitely start doing a podcast if nothing else. I already have a very weird idea for my first one. Radio rules!