ROOM FULL OF STRANGERS

Old Dog – New Tricks…or Thoughts of a 50++ Student

January 13, 2014

As I took a seat in my first class, the Bee Gees’ NIGHTS ON BROADWAY suddenly raced through my mind.

There I was, in a room full of strangers, wishing their eyes couldn’t see me.  For good reason.  As I casually glanced around at the eager faces in Radio and Television 151, I thought, “OMG!  These kids are old enough to be my grandchildren, if I had grandchildren.”

Too late to change my mind, I was registered, paid in full.  I slid my red backpack on the floor under what appeared to be a miniature version of a one-armed desk I remembered from the last time I was in college.  Either the desk was smaller or a I was…I went with smaller desk.

It had been more than 30 years since I attended college.  I had reached a tipping point in my career.  I needed to reinvent myself and up my skill set.  Attending a local college seemed like the perfect solution.  Really.

My initial excitement about returning to academia was replaced by a reality check.  Would I survive swimming in this pool of youth and energy?  Would this Old Dog be able to compete with brain cells having less than a third of the mileage I had on mine?  Would my voice of experience matter in today’s culture?  Was I insane?

I got over myself as soon as the instructor walked in.  C Breit came from pro broadcasting.  He had done radio and TV so it was like watching a great stand-up routine.  Jimmy Fallon could take a lesson.  Breit was enthusiastic, engaging, funny and smart.  This guy knew his stuff!  Breit made everyone feel at ease – including me.

As class progressed, I realized that I knew a great deal of the material we were going to cover.  I should – I had lived it, for heaven’s sake.  It was strange seeing a 16mm projector, discarded at the back of the room, and remembering its sound and the sound of film when it broke.  Even stranger was realizing that none of my fellow students even knew what the machine was!

In that moment, I didn’t feel superior or out of touch.  I felt comfortable knowing that I possessed memories and experiences that could be shared with those around me.  It was nice to know that we were all in a class where we actually wanted to hear about “the good old days” of radio, film, television and the music business that were an integral part of my past.

Yes, I was still relevant.  More important, I was about to learn more exciting things about radio and television – just like the young ones around me.

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