All things considered

September 20, 2016

A lot of people have been asking lately how I am – some of them admitting even as they ask that it’s a stupid question. The thing is, it’s not a stupid question because of the fact that it’s obvious how I am because it’s not. To tell the truth, I don’t know how I am right now, or how I will feel from one moment to the next.

Here’s what I can tell you. My heart broke at least three times today. I have pangs when I see, hear or say certain things that trigger thoughts and memories of my late husband.

I also spent much of the first half of the day fighting through anxiety. Aside from some times when I’ve experienced sensitivity to stimulants like caffeine or ephedrine, the only other time I’ve felt anything remotely like this was a few years ago, when I was dealing with some extreme job stress. If you’ve never dealt with anxiety – especially the kind induced by a major loss – it’s a pretty awful feeling. I have difficulty focusing, with my mind going a hundred different directions. I feel like there’s something I should be doing or need to do, something I’m forgetting when I walk out the door. I feel like I want to run away, but I can’t because I can’t get away from myself and what I’m going through. It often is better when I’m driving, and music tends to comfort and center me. But sometimes if I’m struggling to find the music I need to hear at that time – either something that speaks to where I’m at, or something that allows me to escape and lose myself in it – it can make me more anxious.

Another emotion I experienced today was anger. Oh, what a joy are the “stages” of grief. Thankfully, I’m pretty aware of those stages (which are really more like a shook-up snow globe), so I have some idea where it’s coming from, but that doesn’t make it rational. Tonight, I was reliving the night Matthew died and the experience burned in my brain of receiving that news. I felt pain, of course, thinking about it, but also anger. Who was I angry at? I don’t know. No one, really. Not the police, not myself, not Matthew, not God. Just angry in general because this isn’t the way things were supposed to go.

I’m not sharing this because I want people to feel bad or because I want sympathy, but because I think there are other people out there who have similar experiences who have felt similarly. And because I want to help people understand a little what I’m feeling, even though I barely understand it.

A lot of people also have been asking me what they can do to help. This is another difficult one to answer. Many of my friends and family, and even people I didn’t know, have stepped up to offer prayers, encouragement, financial support, company, food and help finding a car, among other things. I’ve thanked you all a thousand times for this, and I will continue to because I am beyond grateful. For those who still want to help, but aren’t sure how, here’s what I can ask of you.

Keep asking how I am. Know that if I don’t answer you, I’m probably busy, or I may be trying to figure out the answer to that question myself.

Give me the grace to be a normal person. If you’re spending any amount of time with me, Matthew, the loss I’m dealing with and how I’m feeling are most likely going to come up in conversation. I may or may not share with you the steps I’m taking in that journey on a given day (looking for a car, making sure accounts are canceled and transferred over, etc.). Some of the most refreshing conversations I’ve had in the past couple weeks, though, delved into topics like work goals, hopes and dreams, what my plans are for my daughter’s education and even what’s going on with the person I’m talking to (yes, I still care, and no, you don’t need to downplay it because it “doesn’t compare” to what I’m going through).

Pray for me. I know God always hears me and provides what I need, but I also know I could not have gotten through the last couple weeks without those around me lifting me up in prayer. My needs will continue to change as time goes on, so if you ask me, I may be able to tell you where specifically I’m needing God to show up in my life (and going back to wanting to know what’s going on in your life, I would love to know how I can pray for you, too). But, continued strength and peace are always something I could use more of.

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One of my way too many mission trip shirts. (Photo by Matthew Swift)

For the past six months and nine days, I have worn a different outfit every day.

While preparing to move late last year, I started to realize that I have a LOT of clothes, some of which I hadn’t worn in a while, if ever. So, in January, I made a commitment – a late resolution of sorts – to wear something different every day for as long as it took to go through my entire wardrobe.

At first, I thought I could make it through a whole year on what I have, but by month three it was evident that I was *only* going to make it through approximately six months. Thankfully, that wound up being more than enough time to ponder my clothing situation, and it seemed like a good idea to share some things I learned and noticed.

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David Bowie’s death was announced on day three of my challenge, so I had to wear this shirt. (Photo by Roxanna Swift)

I laid a couple ground rules for myself going into the challenge. I already got rid of clothes fairly regularly and had established a policy of getting rid of something any time I get something new. To step up the game, I committed to get rid of anything uncomfortable or ill-fitting. I rarely buy myself clothes, but I also made it part of my commitment that I would buy additional clothes only for special occasions. Since January, I’ve bought a dress for my mom’s wedding and a shirt for my waitressing job. I also will most likely buy some kind of dress or outfit for my birthday in a couple months, but even with the challenge ending, I still plan to stick to my rule of limited clothing purchases.

While I only bought two new clothing items, I got rid of roughly two to three weeks’ worth of clothing. I have a few items I’ve set aside as well, which I haven’t made up my mind about – shirts that I like, but that maybe have sleeves that are just a tad short, that sort of thing. I’m thinking I’ll wear them another time and hopefully make a more firm decision.

I should clarify that when I say I wore a different outfit every day, that doesn’t mean I didn’t rewear anything. In fact, I wore one particular pair of jeans so much that I wore a hole in the backside. Although I have worn every item in my wardrobe (aside from a few maternity pieces and some clothes that I had set aside for a really long time to go to the dry cleaner), I could stretch the challenge a little longer if I really wanted to (I don’t), by layering clothes differently or wearing different combinations (e.g. This shirt with those jeans/that skirt/etc.).

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I wear this sweatshirt a lot, along with my favorite accessory. (Photo by Roxanna Swift)

One thing that really stood out to me was how clothes can manage to hide in plain sight. About a month ago, I looked at the clothing organizer hanging in my closet, and it blew my mind that I still had four weeks’ worth of clothes to go through. I was particularly surprised by how many skirts and dresses I have. When I have in the past felt a want for more clothes, dress clothes were an area where I often felt I was lacking, but I actually have multiple weeks’ worth of dresses and skirts.

The challenge also was helpful with making sure I showered and changed my clothes every day. These are typically things I do anyway, but as a mother who works from home it sometimes might seem easier to skip a shower or not change out of the clothes I slept in.

While I am relieved to be done with the challenge, I’m more aware than ever how much abundance I have in my life. I’m a little more likely to change it up now, instead of wearing “that same comfy T-shirt,” or “that one really cute combination.” And, I still have a LOT of clothes, but I’m more OK with letting them go.

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It’s hard to believe, but my daughter is 2 months old today. Before she was born – even when I was pregnant – I didn’t get it when I saw what seemed like constant posts about how big a friend’s baby was getting. “It’s been, like, two weeks. Your baby is only a month old,” I would think. Despite my experience caring for babies, it just didn’t click with me how quickly they grow and change.

Now, that reality is starting to sink in. The first few weeks, the realization of how the time flies – that this little baby would soon be a little girl, then a teenager and an adult – was bittersweet. It isn’t like the time leading up to a wedding or even the birth of a child. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve looked forward to milestones (like sleeping through the night!), but the time is passing fast enough I couldn’t wish it away if I wanted too.

I’m beginning to settle into being a mom now. I still don’t always get everything done that I would like to, but I’m learning not to beat myself up when I don’t. And, while I’m excited to watch my daughter change and grow into the woman she was created to be, I’m happy to take it one day, one minute, one smile and one baby push-up at a time.

Although I am trying to gear my blog posts more toward journalism and write more regularly, this blog is neither about journalism, nor is it on my bi-weekly Monday blog post schedule. That’s one of the great things about personal blogs – the writer can make up her own rules, and she can make up those rules as she goes along.

I don’t often post direct reflections of my faith. But, sometimes writing the words and shutting them away in a journal, or sharing them by memory with just a few people isn’t enough. I returned home this morning from a mission trip to New Orleans, and while many of my compatriots are either in church or catching up on sleep, I had too many things on my mind to follow suit.

I knew that I was supposed to go on this trip and that there was some sort of learning or growth in store for me. I didn’t realize how that learning or growth would take root until this morning, though. I likely will recognize more of the impact later, but for now, there are four takeaways I got from the experience.

1. Trust is tricky (but rewarding)

This seems like a basic enough concept, and this trip certainly was not my first lesson on the subject. However, it’s one of the areas I struggle with the most in my faith and one where I’m constantly learning and being pushed to go deeper. First, I questioned (after signing up, of course) whether or not I was supposed to go on the trip this year. Was I being called to go, or did I just want to? Could my husband and I really afford to both go? What challenges would I face making the trip while pregnant?

When I trusted God, and shared my story with friends and family, the support I received indicated that I was indeed supposed to go. But, I still hung onto some self-reliance issues. I made sure to submit news assignments ahead of time, so I could “leave my work at home.” But, I brought my laptop, so I could post links to stories I knew would be published during the trip. Then, something came up, and I had to email my editor. And, on Tuesday, I checked my email and saw some assignments had been sent my way. No big deal, right? Except that they had due dates for the Friday after the trip. So, I spent an evening sending emails to sources and my editor.

At that point, I realized I was not experiencing the trip as I was intended to. I recently began to really lean into work again, after a period of taking it a bit easier. I know that God wants me to work hard to support myself and my family, and I want to be a hard worker. But, in the midst of leaning into that, I was being told to take a step back from it. So, I prayed about it, and I asked others to pray about it. I found out the assignments weren’t actually all due the following Friday, and I stopped sending emails. I even caught myself about to reach out to coworkers at my other job, asking for shifts this coming week. Instead, I told myself, “It can wait.”

2. Receiving is an act of humility

While humility often seems to have a negative connotation (maybe it’s the pride thing), it can be a way of allowing God to work through oneself and others. Those who I reached out to for support know that I do not like to ask for anything. I actually mentioned in the messages I sent out that I don’t even like to ask my husband to make up the difference if I’m short on my half of a bill. But, I knew the only way I could serve on this trip was for asking for help.

Many people gave financially, and however much they gave, it all added up to pay for my trip cost and to help my husband and me nourish ourselves to be able to do the work we were in New Orleans to do. Others contributed by taking care of our cats and rabbit while we were gone. And one couple my husband and I are friends with allowed us to leave our car at their house, which is very close to the church we departed from and returned to. While they had my car, the husband replaced my front brake pads and rotors. He also brought the car to the church to meet us at 8 a.m., and although I only left $10 to put in my empty gas tank, the tank was full this morning.

I tried to thank everyone who contributed to sending my husband and me on the trip, and we have offered to make dinner or take some of our friends out to express our gratitude. But, I am very aware that there is no way, at this time, if ever, that I can fully repay these friends and family members. And as difficult as that is to accept, it’s OK because by humbling myself and asking for help, I allowed others to do work God was calling them to, just as I was using their contributions to be able to do the work I was being called to.

3. It’s easier to see wonders around you when you’re present

For the first couple days of this trip, I struggled to leave work behind. When I wasn’t doing mission work, or focusing on my regular work, I was exhausted. Growing a baby already takes a lot of energy, but when you’re sleep-deprived on top of it, you don’t feel like doing anything.

There were other challenges, too. In past years, I did Habitat for Humanity construction work and photography. This time around, I was on a vacation bible camp team. I loved working with the kids, but I did feel isolated from others in my small group, including my husband. I had a few good conversations between Sunday and Thursday this past week, but I spent a lot of that time feeling disconnected from God, myself and my teammates.

Thankfully, when I got more rest and put my work aside, I was able to recognize what an awesome team I was working with at the camp, and I felt more connected with the team as a whole. I found myself reflecting on the importance of being present when I woke up from one of my naps this morning and witnessed a beautiful golden sunrise as we traveled through Kentucky hills. One thing the children at camp prayed thanks for every time they prayed was for God waking them up in the morning. It seems so simple, but I prayed that same prayer today, and it seemed like a pretty good start to being present.

4. Seeds of change take time to grow

One of the trip leaders spoke at the end of the week about how the seeds God plants in us during experiences like this do not grow overnight. Last year, he shared the same story that he told this year, about how it took him months and even years to process his first New Orleans mission experience. It didn’t resonate as much with me then because I was very aware of a pivotal moment of change in my faith last year. Looking back, I realized that while I was aware of that change, I wasn’t totally sure of what was still to come.

This theme is recurring when I reflect back on my first experience on this particular mission. Those same friends who helped out with my car (and contributed financially) are the good friends they are today because they were on the same trip my husband and me in 2011. Since then, we went to their wedding, and they attended ours. Even so, it wasn’t until last year that our friendship with them began to really take root in a deeper way.

This year, I went into the trip believing that God had something in store for me. I still think that, but now I’m more aware that just as it takes the seeds of friendship time to develop, and as it is taking my baby months to develop before s/he greets the world, it may take a while to recognize the full impact the mission had on me.

As a journalist, objectivity is a big part of my work. I’m not entirely sure if it’s something that became important to me because of the work I do or if it is a character trait I possessed, which drew me to this vocation.

Objective journalism went in and out of style in America until the early 20th century, when it became a guiding principle of news reporting.

In an excerpt from the book “Losing the News,” Alex S. Jones writes, “I define journalistic objectivity as a genuine effort to be an honest broker when it comes to news. That means playing it straight without favoring one side when the facts are in dispute, regardless of your own views and preferences.”

There are, of course, journalists who don’t believe in objectivity at all. In “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72,” Hunter S. Thompson writes, “So much for objective journalism. Don’t look for it here – not under any byline of mine; or anyone else I can think of. With the possible exception of things like box scores, race results, and stock market tabulations, there is no such thing as objective journalism. The phrase itself is a pompous contradiction in terms.”

While I agree with Jones’ definition, I’ve found that my attempts at objectivity go beyond whatever story I might be working on at a given time. In a society where many people share their opinions freely through, I often hold mine back. Even on my personal Facebook page, you’ll rarely see a status update in which I express a distinct opinion. This does not mean I do not have opinions or do not share them at all, but I can’t deny I’ve had times when I was hesitant to put my thoughts out there.

I think sometimes when you’re told enough to put “S/he said” attribution after practically every line you write, you begin to second guess yourself. You start to question if people will trust you to be impartial if they know any details about your thoughts and beliefs. I know this is extreme and not entirely true, but I still struggle sometimes to figure out where the line is or should be drawn when it comes to objectivity. It is a topic around that came up many times in my college classes, but that was mostly among other journalists.

So, I want to ask you for your thoughts, dear readers. Do you believe objectivity is attainable in journalism? If so, to what extent should it play a role in news? If a reporter has an opinion on a matter, whether s/he is reporting on it or not, do you want to know what that opinion is? And, if a reporter shares his or her opinion, would you still trust that reporter to write an impartial news story that is related to the subject they hold an opinion on?

Pleased to meet you…

June 16, 2014

If this is your first time reading my blog, welcome to my world. If you’re a returning reader, welcome back. It’s hard to believe it has been more than a year since I last posted on here. You can expect that trend to change.

I am trying to take a more journalistic approach to my blog. I am a reporter by trade, and while this is a personal blog, which I write in during my personal time, I would like it to reflect my passion for my vocation. On that note, one thing you should be able to expect from me is that I will post regularly (My goal is one blog a week) about journalism topics. Another is that I will do my best to engage with you and answer any questions you might have to the best of my ability. I will do my best to follow through on this commitment, but to do that, I need to ask a thing or two of you, dear readers. First, though, let me tell you a little about myself.

Anchors away

My name is Roxanna Swift, but I also go by the name Roxie. My full name and the nickname both were given to me by my mother when I was born. The picture above is me circa January 1, 2011. It was taken sometime after midnight New Year’s Day, and despite what you might be thinking, I did not have a single alcoholic beverage that night. That’s just me. I can be very serious, but I’m also very silly. My humor can be a bit on the sarcastic side (I was flattered when my editor recently described it as a “quiet, wry” sort of humor), but it’s very rarely mean.

I began writing as a student reporter at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College in November 2009. I transferred to Northern Kentucky University in 2010, and I wrote for the university’s student newspaper, The Northerner, as a contributing writer before becoming a staff writer in early 2011. Each semester after that, I took on respectively higher positions as A&E editor and assignment editor. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism in 2012. Since then, I have worked as a reporter for The Community Press & Recorder in Clermont County, Ohio and, more recently, as a freelance reporter for WCPO.

 

One of my favorite writers and fellow journalists is Chuck Klosterman. I admire his wit and his ability to incorporate music and pop culture cleverly into his writing. I love to play with words, and I have a deep appreciation for things like a nod to another song or artist within a song. For example, in the song “Paralyzer,” by Finger Eleven, the lyrics, “If one thing really means one” are a reference to their earlier hit, “One Thing.”

Some of you may be wondering about the name of my blog. You might even wonder why I would choose to name a (somewhat) professional leaning blog in such a way. The truth is, I originally started this blog as an assignment for a journalism practicum at NKU. We were told to make the name unique and encouraged to use our name in it. As aforementioned, Roxie is a name I go by, and I am particular about the spelling because that is how my mom spelled the nickname she bestowed on me. I’m not totally sure why I used a 0 instead of an o, but I think I may have been in the mindset of creating a password when I did it. Believe me, I’m not in the habit of creating handles and usernames along the lines of RoXaNnAsWiFt or anything like that.

So, you get the Roxie part, but why r0xiehart? I love arts and entertainment. I grew up going to concerts, musicals, plays and movies. When I originally decided to pursue a degree in journalism, I hoped to one day have a career as a music journalist, A&E reporter or A&E editor. With that goal, my focus was on A&E in much of the work I did for The Northerner. I have since found that I love writing hard news as well as other types of feature stories, A&E still has a special place in my heart. And, the character Roxie Hart, from the musical “Chicago” is actually quite a fitting namesake. Aside from her, three other main characters in musical are not people but concepts. Those are our judicial system, news media and entertainment media (and news as entertainment media). Plus, the musical is based on the play, “Chicago,” which was written by reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins.

Now that you know a little more about me, I think it’s fair, dear readers, for me to express what I need from you. To engage with you through my blog, I need you to engage with me as well. I want your feedback. I want your questions. I want to share my perspective as a journalist with you. So, let’s start the conversation with a few questions from me to you: What journalism topics would you like to read about? Are there any non-journalism topics you would like me to write about? If so, what are they?

 

A few days ago, I checked out a batch of CDs from the library – something I usually do every couple weeks or so. I pick out CDs quickly, but it may seem to a bystander that I choose music mindlessly, there is a selection process I go through every time.

I tend to start out with a couple CDs by bands that I know. Then I grab a couple by bands that I have heard of, but am not particularly familiar with. I also throw in a couple I’ve never heard of here and there for good measure. I generally go for albums with interesting art, titles or band names. I don’t necessarily do these steps in order; I just try to make sure I branch out to explore new music. I also make a point of selecting a variety of styles of music – classical, rock, alternative, folk, jazz and whatever other genres are available.

One of the CDs I picked out the other day was “Body Talk,” by Swedish recording artist Robyn. I really liked her late 90s singles, “Show Me Love” and “Do You Know (What it Takes),” and I used to own the album that featured them. I knew she recently had released some music, so I was curious if my 26-year-old self would find anything on the album that re-awakened my 12-year-old fandom.

My initial reaction to the album was … wtf? Let’s just say what I heard was a far cry from what I heard years ago. Still, I heard it out. In the end, the album wasn’t so bad, but it wasn’t anything I cared to listen to again, either.

Listening to it got me thinking about again about an idea I explored a month or two ago. The idea stemmed from a line in the song “Holding Onto You,” by Twenty One Pilots.

“Lean with it, rock with it, when we gonna stop with it? Lyrics that mean nothin’ we were gifted with thought; Is it time to move our feet to an introspective beat? It ain’t the speakers that bump hearts, it’s the hearts that make the beat,” lead vocalist Tyler Joseph sings/yells toward the end of the song.

Listening to it one night on my way home from work, I indignantly thought, “Shame on musicians who sing/write/perform music their heart is not invested in.”

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t hate pop music, and I’m not crying out for its ban. It has its time and place, and I understand that people sometimes want to listen to something that isn’t the most cerebral or thought-provoking thing they’ve ever heard.

But, I believe music is a gift and a form of expression. It is a way to convey joy, love, hope, longing, passion – even anger and fear. It’s a way of expressing that which is our hearts, and it should come from the heart, not from whatever part of the brain that fuels someone to write the catchiest, most mindless drivel possible to make the biggest buck.

Recently, I have been feeling nudges, commands to act on. The nudges began during a message series at the church I attend, a fairly well-known non-denominational church called Crossroads. Throughout the series, called “Follow the Leader,” we were called on to “be doers of the word, not hearers only.”

Because the concept was being discussed over a span of weeks, it was very much on my mind. One night, I picked up a book at my part-time job, and the page I opened it to happened to have a quote referencing James 1:22 – the verse about “doing” that kept coming up at Crossroads.

That night, I made a decision to act on the nudges. Interestingly, at the same time I was feeling a nudge to “do,” the sign up date was on the horizon for a New Orleans mission trip that I went on a couple years ago, and the number one thing I was feeling pushed toward was that trip. The thing is, I didn’t have the money to pay for the deposit required to go on the trip. The deposit is $200 of the $850 total, and I was broke. Like, seriously broke. I didn’t even have money to pay my impending student loan payment.

Another theme that seemed to be coming up at this time was asking. A musical artist who I admire very much (some of you may know her as Amanda Palmer) recently gave a TED Talk, and guess what it was about. That’s right. Asking.

So, I did something I really don’t like to do. I asked for money. Although I still owe them money that I borrowed to pay for car repairs right before my wedding, I asked my grandparents for money to help pay my student loans. And, I created a Facebook event asking everyone on my Facebook friends list for money to help pay for the trip deposit.

While I was doing my fundraising, I caught myself thinking of the “ifs” and the “what-ifs” a lot. “What if my husband and I aren’t able to get together enough money for both of us to go on the trip?” “What if I can’t get the time off work?” “If I don’t get together enough money for the deposit, how do I admit that to people? Do I refund it to them, or donate it to someone else’s trip?”

Another “what-if” came up, though, that kept me from giving into the others and throwing in the towel. “What if it’s not really about the money, or even going on the trip? What if the lesson here simply is that it’s OK to ask sometimes?”

My student loan payments now are mailed, and I paid the deposit for the trip yesterday (It was due today).

I’m very fortunate, and very grateful. We have an amazing support group/network of friends and family who really stepped up to help out, to contribute what they could, and for that I cannot thank them enough.

I’m not worried by the “what-ifs” right now. Those are dragons I will face – and hopefully, with a little help, slay – as I come upon them. Until then, I’m going to keep “doing.”

Lately, I’ve been feeling somewhat isolated.

Numerous factors have contributed to this feeling, and ironically, most of those factors aren’t so uncommon and could be areas for identification with others. Post-wedding free time, post-honeymoon work, everyday stressors of adult life, like keeping the house clean and paying bills.

More than anything, though, I feel this way because I have, in fact, isolated myself, and I have done so by trying to do too much. Not only have I been trying to do too much, but I have been trying to do it all on my own, despite the fact that I know I cannot.

Last week, I was explaining to my husband that I have always wanted to do something big, something great. This has led to the feeling that I want to do everything. Seriously. Since I was 5, I have wanted to be: a nurse, an artist, a writer, a teacher, a paleontologist, an actress, a rock star, a vagabond, an FBI agent and a reporter (and at least 20 other things in between). 

I realized as I was reflecting that I do want to do something big, something great. But, my perspectives of what that might be have changed a bit since I was 5, 10, 15 and even 20. What I want to do is not necessarily anything I will get noticed for. It might not have a byline. As my husband pointed out, it will (hopefully) be a less selfish form of greatness than many of the things I had wished for in the past.

And, it will not be anything I do on my own.

This morning at Crossroads, while listening to a message about being a part of a team, it it hit me. I want to be the hands and feet. Not by myself, but as part of a team.

And, as I stood to sing, “If you lead us, Lord, we will follow; if you lead us, Lord, we will go…,” I realized that while I love to sing on my own, my voice sounds a lot better as a part of a choir.

 

The Magic Power of the Music

September 7, 2012

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For years now, alternative radio stations in Cincinnati have struggled to thrive. Growing up, I remember how Q102, which now is essentially a Top 40 pop station, played alternative rock. In the 90s and early 2000s, there have been other stations, too, like New Rock 97.3, 94.9 The Sound and Frequency 94.1. Maybe it’s just because the 90s were a decade chock-full of alternative rock, and the lines separating alternative rock from many other genres have blurred, but it seems that any more alternative rock stations have difficulty taking root and maintaining listenership and financial support.

 

On Aug. 16, Cincinnati’s most recent alternative rock station, The Project, began broadcasting on 100.7 and 106.3 FM. In the past week, I have been listening to the station quite a bit, enjoying the music and trying to form an analysis. So far, I have heard M83, M.I.A., Of Monsters and Men, Mumford and Sons and many other musicians and bands who do not have a bunch of Ms in their names.

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When I mentioned the station to my fiance the other day, he said it sounded like the type of station that gets axed after a year, as have many of the city’s alternative rock stations, particularly the more recent ones. My fiance then looked up the station’s webpage, and upon seeing their recently played list, which included Mutemath, he confirmed in his mind what he had assumed. 

 

So, as a lover or music, radio and alternative music on the radio, I have come up with a few tips on how not to get axed in a year or less.

 

1. Determine Your Intentions

While people may have musical tastes that encompass a wide variety of genres, people don’t necessarily want to listen to a station that is all over the place. This doesn’t mean you have to put your music or your radio station into a nice, easily categorizable box, but you should have somewhat of a focus in some direction or other. 

 

2. Set Yourself Apart

This is absolutely integral. People have their go-to stations for pop, rock, country, classic rock and hip-hop. If you’re not doing something to pave your own path or raise the bar in some way, then no matter how awesome you are, you will not last.

 

3. Keep It Cool

Right now, there are no DJs on the station. Based on my research about the station, I’m not sure if there are any plans for DJs in the future, but if there are, it is important to be selective when choosing them. Few things are a bigger turn-off for listeners than DJs who try to be cool. The only thing that could be worse is someone who has no personality. In general, people who listen to alternative music are going to want to hear someone they can identify with, someone who keeps things fun and entertaining without going over the top.

 

4. Don’t Forget to Check the Expiration

I don’t want this to be misconstrued because I love, love, love all kinds of music from 10, 20, 30 years ago and more. I’m not saying don’t play that. But, it’s good to stay on top of what’s current. So far, you’ve been doing a good job with songs like “Little Talks” by Of Monsters and Men and fun.’s “Some Nights.” Keep that up, and don’t be afraid to dig even a little bit deeper into the obscure. There’s some pretty awesome music out there that people would really like if they only got a chance to hear it.

 

5. Remember What it’s All About

Don’t forget why this “project” started in the first place–(presumably) out of a love for music and a passion for sharing it with others. Fans of alternative music are often fickle and can quickly turn against something the minute it begins to gain popularity. Don’t be disheartened by this. Let yourself be led by the love and passion that inspired you in the first place, even when thinking with a business mind. Also, it doesn’t hurt to show a little local love, whether it’s a song slipped in here or there, or a program specifically for local music.

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I’m sure market research has been done, and the openness of to suggestion from the station’s creators is a good sign, too. Either way, whether my advice is taken to heart, or if it’s regarded as obvious and old news, hopefully I can look back at this blog 10 years from now, while listening to The Project.