Confessions of a Radio Wife
I hate country music.
Oh, it feels so good to admit that.
I know that it’s America’s music, our cultural heritage. I understand that many of the best musicians on earth come from country music, and that its lyrics speak of the common citizen overcoming emotional and societal oppression – and how else would we know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em? From a sound proof distance, I admire country music and its truly talented musicians and songwriters.
I feel certain country music wouldn’t find me especially entertaining, either, and that we could have lived perfectly contented separate lives, similar to the non-relationships I enjoy with, say, opera and camping, were it not for Columbus radio.
You see, for twenty years or so, country music paid my bills.
My husband George works in radio, and over the course of nearly our entire relationship he worked his way up the ranks from weekend part-timer to full time DJ to music director to program director at a Columbus radio station. Over the course of those years, his station swung back and forth between classics and current hits, occasionally mixing the two, but tragically, the variety was always well within the bounds of country.
Our son grew up hearing daddy on the radio, and learning the words to every Travis Tritt or Toby Keith song to hit the airwaves. This, combined with what George and I listened to at home, opened Riley up to a rich and varied musical world.
My own musical world, on the other hand, was already populated and I couldn’t seem to find room for Faith or Dolly, George (Strait or Jones). Every new crop of up-and-comers gave me a migraine. Taylor Swift seems like an awfully sweet kid, but if I could go a single day without hearing one of her songs I will feel truly blessed.
It’s me, I’m not pretending it’s not. The problem usually is me. The heart of the issue, truth be told, has never been so much that I don’t care for country music. Everyone has their own personal likes and dislikes when it comes to music.
The problem is that I have had to suppress this fact publically for two full decades. I don’t suppress well. Trying to behave in any way that is unnatural makes me uncomfortable, and once I’m uncomfortable, I simply lose all sense of appropriateness and start acting a fool.
For instance, many years ago at the old Germain amphitheater, I was in a backstage meet-and-greet line at a Reba McEntire concert. My husband was escorting the winner of their contest – What’s the Craziest Thing You Would Do to Meet Reba?! I, naturally, was his date.
We were all wearing radio station tee shirts, and I’d had to borrow mine from another DJ. Reba warmly greeted the winner, pulled out her Sharpie, and began autographing shirts.
I blanched and said, “No thanks.”
It wasn’t my shirt.
Would the owner of the shirt have appreciated the autograph of an icon of her chosen field? Oh, I feel sure she would have.
Ms. McEntire eyeballed me like the social alien that I was. The guy in front of me had literally tattooed a very good likeness of her face (and huuuuge hair) on his arm, all for the opportunity to meet her, and I wouldn’t let her autograph my ten dollar tee shirt.
You can see why I should never be allowed to participate in this kind of thing – I only embarrass us all.
There was also that time at the Ohio State Fair when Willie Nelson kissed me full on the mouth. I’m not even sure what went wrong there.
Anyway, at just about the time our son graduated from Grandview Heights High School and we had to face an impressive tuition bill from Ohio State, George was downsized – released from the land of belt buckles and steel guitars.
Unemployment is no laughing matter, especially in a field as tough as radio. And yet, I could scarcely conceal my glee over just that one little perk: I would no longer have to sit quietly and smilingly tolerate Kenny Chesney music.
But the better news is that George’s new gig as midday guy on Rewind 103.5/104.3 has him spinning tons of Eighties hits. Goodbye Blake Shelton (I braided his hair once. Don’t ask. I believe I was mistaken for a member of the staff.) Hello, Billy Idol (call me!). I can barely control my joy.
Oh, one more thing. NASCAR is not a sport.
This is so freeing!