Anonymous after broadcast
during Radio Confessions
2014



(white areas edited out for privacy)


When I was a kid, I would stay up late in my bed, clutching my yellow Sony walkman that I had decorated with Snoopy stickers. I played around with the radio, meticulously moving the tuner millimeter by millimeter to pick up all the hidden radio signals that became clear in the nighttime. Stations from all across the Eastern seaboard bled through the usual frequencies, and whether I heard a news report or a strange piece of music or a car insurance commercial, it was fascinating because it was being transmitted from a far away place I could not conceive of outside of tv sitcoms, and it was being transmitted to my ear, under my pillow, through magical radio waves. I learned later on that this practice is called DXing. I learned this in a University course about broadcasting. My childhood obsession became my career, and through Radio Confessions, I was able to revive that spark of curiosity, wonder and engagement with the radio dial.
The first Radio Confessions I attended was their second incarnation, and it took place at the southern edge of Riverdale Park on Mother’s Day. On arrival, I saw a few scattered beings wandering around the park, holding up receivers and positioning themselves for ideal sound, privacy and comfort. I took my receiver and wandered off, nestling myself next to a tree. The confession I heard was deeply private, a participant who spoke of her mother’s abuse at the hands of her grandparents and the consequences of that on her life. She opened with an image of a cemetery, which immediately hit me in the gut, as earlier that day I had a failed attempt at visiting my mother at the cemetery where she is buried. Adding to that, I could hear the local Portuguese station CIRV 88.9 FM bleeding through. The familiar folk music that i grew up with and have not listened to since my parents have passed away was infiltrating this artistic practice. It was a small illustration of a juxtaposition I’ve been struggling with my whole life. I’m not weird and artsty enough for the art crowd, but I’m not straight edge and populous enough for the masses.
After listening to the confession, I knew I had to speak. My good friend that had attended with me came up and asked how I was doing, as I am sure I looked rattled. I couldn’t speak to him, I just choked out a few nonsesencial sounds and gestured to the transmitter. The lav was attached to me, and I wandered slowly, again seeing the bodies disperse in their familiar pattern. Through a clenched body, I revealed feelings about relief, fear, guilt, and above all, honesty about what I hide in order to survive the day to day. I knew others were listening, I had in fact requested that, but there was no one there in my space, no one making eye contact or nodding their head or trying to think of a way to console me or offer advice. I don’t need that from people. I am strong and I know how to take care of myself, I just needed to tell people, and the way I needed to do it was broadcasting through those familiar radio waves that had been such a comfort to me through my childhood and adolescence.