Nevada Public Radio is like that. The Classical station is mostly from elsewhere beamed to the station, and even those voices are prerecorded. The local talent on the news-talk channel, except in the morning drive and afternoon drive on weekdays, are recorded. Most of the wonderful talk, magazine and game hosts are also recorded in advance and time shifted.
When I started, in the dark ages, we were there to talk with the audience 24/7. If the weather changed (as it often did in Chicago), there was a big news story locally or internationally, traffic became a problem or people just needed a friend, we were there.
I remember working with Eddiie Schwartz on WIND, Chicago. We volunteered, without pay, to work Christmas Eve because that is a day when people get lonely, and need a human live voice. We answered the phones (try doing that with most host on the radio today), not just on the air but also off the air. We were there for the listeners.
I have been on the air during tornnados, earthquakes, floods, fires and riots, to keep people informed and most of all to keep them calm and current, feeling safe and cared about.
Now I am, for the first time in two decades, and for approaching the longest time in my adult life, not on the air. After fifteen years being the Sunday voice of Nevada Public Radio, I am off the air.
It feels good to have weekends with my wife, to have the ability to actually go to church on Sundays, leave town for a weekend if I want to and to be flexible. But it is strange to lose the income, to be without a microphone, to not be there for an audience I care about.
Of course radio is not who I am.
I am a husband, father, grandfather, friend, teacher, coach, actor, writer, blogger, friend, mentor to some, and could again be a broadcaster.
I am me.
Society does not know what we gave up to automation and advertising and how much personal touch is now gone.
But the worse has yet to come...
Robots, or automated systems, are not emulating human voices at an increasingly interactive and realistic rate. It is only a matter of time before the friendly voice on the radio is not even a human being...but a computer or "robot", sounding and acting more human than the automated voices you hear today.
From fast food to broadcasting, manufacturing to distribution, robots are the future.
We face the worlds largest "un" and under employed generation, one displaced by automation, the shrinking job market that results, and a feeling of uncertainty about their own future.
I guess I am glad to be a child of the 20th and not the 21st century.
But our kids and grandkids will make something of it and a brave new world will emerge.
I hope it is one where the return the human touch, the real live person who cares, emerges victorious.