Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Letter To Garrision Kellor and His Brilliant Response

Mr. Keillor,
I listen to your show all the time. I am turning 18 this January and searching for colleges and one of the classes I want to take is radio. People say that I have the voice (and face) for radio and I am interested in the field.
I would love to have your opinion and hear how you got on radio.
Ryan D.
Lebanon, Ohio
I got into radio, Ryan, by sheer luck and personal connections and also because I could get up at 4 in the morning five days a week even in the dead of winter and be ambitious to do a good show. I was too naive to be discouraged. And somehow, despite all sorts of bonehead moves, my enthusiasm did not flag. I don't think you need to study radio in college. Most of what you need to know you can learn on the job and most of what you learn in a college course will be useless, or outdated. What you need from college is an excellent liberal arts education that will give you a broad base of judgment and perspective that will stand you in good stead no matter what sort of career you pursue. Radio has a bright future which will be forged by young people following their own inspiration, not imitating their elders, though the essence of broadcasting is the same today as it was ninety years ago at the inception: radio is all about coherence. We all live in a landscape of dense confusion and competing messages and radio attempts to give us a degree of clarity and a coherent view of the world, embodied in the human voice. It's a powerful medium that speaks to our perpetual loneliness and I wish you well and hope you'll hurl yourself bodily into getting a good education, studying the hard subjects, taking on a new language, reading the difficult texts. That's going to be a struggle, compared to a broadcasting major, but it's a better use of your time, Ryan.