Texts, Tights and Real Live Radio

Life looks different at 4 a.m. That's not just a philosophical statement. Nor is it a comment on the half-hour of introspection before getting the news to get a bead on the day that's well underway in the rest of the country and the rest of the world... or lately, just a little recovery from the recent Hawaii Public Radio pledge drive. It's just the reality of the not-so-harsh lamp light to ease into the not-quite day. It's why my closet looks different, too, and the big reason I try -- emphasis on the word try -- to pull out an outfit the afternoon before to avoid shuffling shoeboxes, hangers and accessories and swearing at four in the morning. Especially over this last month, the inaugural and state promoted Hawaii Fashion Month birthed by the Hawaii Fashion Incubator, I've tried to do my part. Even though I work in radio, it's good to not look as if my clothes jumped me as I bolted out the door.

There is an inherent obstacle to avoiding a day of dishevelment; at the end of it, I actually have to remember to cruise through the closet when I'd much rather cruise to the kitchen, pour a glass of wine and have a plunk on the sofa. But I pay for those somewhat infrequent moments. Invariably, just as I'm savoring the pleasure of sitting in my own living room, deep shafts of sunlight pierce the window and send panic. Daylight is waning! Upstairs, upstairs!

If you've ever tried to match black garments, you already know that successfully putting together anything means having good lighting... and of that, I'm woefully short. Generally in my life, I don't see much daylight. I stride through the station when it's still dark, and sometimes don't surface until mid or late afternoon. And that's when my glaring bungles show up -- the moment when I look down in daylight only to see purple tights when I swore I'd grabbed the brown. Then I swear again; I will hang out an outfit as soon as I'm home and the quest to avoid fashion faux pas recapitulates itself.

Already a couple of things about this post may have struck you as a little odd if you've read my bio -- and if you haven't, and want to, you can read it now or just read the next sentence. First, as I work for public radio, few except for our small but mighty production crew will see or care what I wear. (That was one of the perks; I could stop suiting up.) Next, since you know the public radio organization is in Hawaii, what's with the tights? The answers are simple and both are attributable to my grandmother: You have to dress for yourself and no one can work when she's cold, especially in the meat lockers that are my studio and office. I added that last part.

The truth is also that given the guests who come through the door, showing up schleppy wouldn't do... and not so much in the name of professionalism, though that's good, too. No, there's another reason firmly grounded into the fabric of this community; even though it appears to be a big city, Honolulu still functions as a small town. Somehow, somewhere and sometime soon, someone will tell my mother.

It's not so difficult to imagine; she moves in diverse and interesting circles and public radio is known to attract a pretty interesting, diverse crowd. There's a lot of cross pollination of ages and interests between her contacts and our audience. You can bet that right in the middle of the morning show -- when I'm off air for a moment and she knows her message will silently appear on my phone -- she will fire off a text: Heard from X that you need to get some rest.

Okay, so if now you're talking back to this article (and you better do it sotto voce unless you want other people to look at you), let me say that even through this screen, I can hear you tell me to turn off the phone or tell her not to text, c'mon, you're a grown woman with three sons. (That last part you got from my bio, I know.) On occasion, driving to the studio in a still dark world, I've thought about having such a chat because there's a reason I can't simply leave the phone in my office: it beats charades.

Let me explain. Once, show staff had a quiet and more dignified means to communicate but the ancient Apple, which started smoking in the middle of a long ago talk show, took care of that. Move the timeline to 2011 and the installation of the latest talkback system to launch the HPR2 morning show. It should have been labeled 'talkback sometimes.' This one only allows on air hosts to speak to Those Beyond the Glass in the few 30 second breaks during the show when all mics are off. Out of necessity, texting became our work-around, the only way to massage the show in process.

Given the seriousness of the issues and news we talk about, there's no room to get derailed for even a moment. Messages from anyone other than show staff -- and those are easy to spot as they're announced even before they arrive by some behind the glass pantomime accompanied by a silent mouthed "look at your phone" -- now gets mentally relegated to the Check Later file. But to be sure, it's a Not Too Much Later file, because later is a relative word, and sometimes, there just isn't a later. The life-altering reality of one too many traffic lights and a six minute delay taught me that; by the time I got to the hospital, my father had died. So now, inconvenient or not, I'm not quite ready to stop seeing my mom's spontaneous blue bubbled comments.They'll come when they do, including at four in the morning when life really does look different and they'll stand up in daylight -- even if I'm wearing the wrong colored tights.