One of my founding principles of education is that participating in a process is better than simply reading or hearing about it. This applies to many areas of life. You can read a government textbook for years, but until you get out and get involved in the process you don’t REALLY know how it operates.
My son learned a small lesson this way in how the real world operates and how things are not always as they seem from the outside.
Frequently I allow the kids to listen to music while studying. It provides a more pleasant atmosphere and sometimes fodder for conversation. Their favorite station (www.929nin.com) constantly encourages listeners to call in on the listener line to make requests. Hey – we’re not passive listeners, we like to voice our opinion! So occasionally he calls in a request and gets frustrated by a less-than-optimum computer generated set of menus seemingly programmed to blockade any listener from actually making a request.
Yesterday he actually got through to a human dj! Woo-hoo! He asked to hear a Rob Thomas song. Instead, the dj asked him to request Devin DeGraw’s “In Love With a Girl.” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pXTr9dLECfg) He floundered for just an instant, confused by the response, but said, “Okay!” because he likes that song, too. Sure enough, moments later, we heard Cameron’s voice on the air. The recorded conversation had been quickly but carefully edited so that it sounded as if he’d called in just for that song.
We all got a huge laugh out of it. He’d always thought that listener voices were speaking live on the radio, and I explained that most of them were recorded and played back. That way djs can pick and choose the conversations they want and avoid total goofballs or inappropriate comments. But obviously he was most surprised that they would spin his call so they could play the song they obviously planned to play anyway and make it sound like a listener request.
“Tricksy little djs!” he said.
I laughed and told him he’d never been able to listen to a “requested” song without thinking about this and wondering if the song was truly requested or not. I understand that radio stations need to play certain types of songs at certain times to maximize their listeners and such. I used to be a dj, and I remember being told by my boss, “Perception is reality!”
Within 15 minutes, the station played his actual request, just without mentioning that it was a request. Cameron wasn’t at all upset by the “tweaking” that KNIN had done to his request, just enlightened. I don’t want my kids to be cynical, but they shouldn’t be completely gullible either. Perception is NOT reality. The truth will set you free. It’s interesting to get a peek behind the curtain.