I’d just come out of the restroom and was flattening my skirt against my hands when I heard my name called out. Working for a radio station was going to take some getting used to. I’d expected something more structured, but no. Everyone was totally casual here.
“They want you in the studio,” Graham, the station manager, told me he walked beside me on my way back to my desk.
“Why me?” I asked him because I’d been here a few weeks and this was a new request. I’d started this internship when my classes had ended in May. Now it was the end of June and I’d gotten comfortable with the monotony of the accounting department. This was, after all, what I was going to school for and what I’d be doing for the rest of my life. The entire rest of my life.
Graham shrugged. He was in his early thirties and had dark blond hair with light brown eyes. Very average-looking as far as I was concerned, but I’d also been conditioned to not be boy crazy. For all I knew, he was the hottest guy out there.
“This is something they like to do with all of the interns,” he told me. “The audience loves it, so…”
So I’d better get my ass in there. Got it. “On my way.”
The studios were out front, situated on each side of the receptionist’s desk. Which meant anyone who walked in could watch the on-air talent as they waited. One side was the country station and the other was the pop station. That was where I was headed, but there was another studio around the back for their classic rock station.
I loved this place. When I’d been told there had been an internship opening for me, I’d expected it to be in a stuffy CPA office. Sure, I was in the stuffy part, but this was a radio station and there were always fun things happening around me, even if I couldn’t participate.
Approaching the studio, I was suddenly gripped with uncertainty. Should I knock? Just go in? I had no idea how this worked.
“They’re expecting you,” the receptionist, Penny, told me. She was young, around my age, with bright pink hair. She was also the nicest person in the place and that was saying something, given that everyone had been super nice to me. “You can just go in.”
I gave her a nod in appreciation and pushed through the door.
“There she is,” Ned, one of the morning DJs, said when I came in. Made me think that they’d been talking about me before my arrival. “Come on in, intern.”
Wow, I supposed that was my nickname now.
Ned didn’t look at all like he sounded. I had expected a tall, good-looking man like the classically chiseled movie stars from the ’40s.
Nope. Ned was maybe five-feet-six-inches. Still taller than me, but that was short for a guy. He was also tan-skinned and balding at forty-two years old. I’d come to know a lot about the personalities since I’d started, but most of that he’d said himself on air.
“Grab a headset,” Brian, the other DJ, urged me. He looked closer to what I’d thought Ned would look like, but still, his voice didn’t match his face. He spoke with a softer style, even when he was excited. “Pull up to that mic there.” All of this was being said on air, too. The light telling me that was solid red on the front wall.
My stomach tightened with nerves. I never expected to be on the air and for the life of me couldn’t figure out why I was the one called in here.
“Hi,” Ned urged me as I got settled.
“Let’s get you introduced.” Ned led a lot of the conversation on regular days. There was no reason to think it’d be any different today.
“I’m Jurnie,” I said, then I cleared my throat. I’d noticed over the weeks I’d been here that the they never said the interns’ last names on the air. This was what I imagined being on TV was like, and though there was no camera my face, it still felt heated and was probably flushed.
“Jurnie, that’s a great name,” he told me.
“I’ll tell my mom you said that.”
“I bet she tells you that having a kid is journey and that’s how you got your name.” The two of them laughed at the same joke I’d heard since about second grade. “OK, Jurnie, you’re an intern in the accounting department, right?”
“Boring,” Brian offered and he wasn’t wrong.
I’d chosen accounting because it was a safe choice and I thought I’d like it. I was wrong but in my family changing my mind isn’t an easy thing to do.
OK, so they were acting like this was a normal conversation. I could do that. Forget that thousands of people were probably listening at that moment. K98 served the greater Detroit area and I think went a lot farther than most people realized. That was a lot of people in our section of Michigan. Ned and Brian in the Morning was one of the most popular shows in the state. I’d seen the numbers.
“So tell us about yourself,” Ned urged.
“I’m not sure what you want to know. I’m a student, obviously. Majoring in accounting and I have one year left.”
“Are your parents accountants?” Brian asked. “Is that why numbers are your jam?”
I shook my head then realized the audience wouldn’t be able to see that. “No,” I said into the mic. “My mom is a lawyer and my dad is a pastor.”
“A lawyer and a pastor?” Ned asked. “That’s got to be some upbringing.” The two of them laughed.
I’d heard it a million times before. Did your mom marry your dad to get forgiveness for being a lawyer blah, blah blah.
“It’s a little like having the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other,” I told them, to which they roared with laughter. I hadn’t thought it was that funny. “But that’s why accounting seemed like a safe major,” I kept going. “I couldn’t do what either of them did but was conditioned to pick something safe. And I’m at least good at this.”
“Makes sense, I suppose,” Brian told me. “Now let’s get to some questions, Jurnie. Boyfriend?”
“No,” I said a little too quickly.
Now I rolled my eyes. “Yes, I’ve had very appropriate boyfriends.”
The truth was that I’d dated boys my parents approved of. I’d gone to an all-girls parochial high school, so the only boys I’d been exposed to had been the ones at church. Now, just because they’d been church boys didn’t mean they’d kept their hands to themselves. They’d tried and failed a lot.
“Appropriate sounds hot,” Ned said really close to the mic. I could imagine what that sounded like on the other side.
“What about siblings?” Brian asked.
“I have a sister and, while she isn’t a sibling, the cutest seven-year-old niece, whom I love to death.”
“Sounds good,” Brian muttered, but he didn’t mean it. Sounded like he was getting bored with me but I lived a boring life.
“It is,” I countered, narrowing my eyes on him. “She’s amazing and so smart.”
“Let’s talk music.” Brian shifted the conversation. “You’re interning at a music station, so what kind of music do you listen to?”
“I grew up around the church choir, but most of the time, I only listen to classical.”
He let out a fake gasp. “You’re kidding me.”
“Nope. Obviously, I’ve heard popular music and it’s great, but I grew up on classical.”
“Have you been to any concerts?”
“Tons,” I told him, which was the truth. I’d been to many. They just all happened to be classical or instrument-based.
“What was your favorite?”
I didn’t really need to think about that one. “Actually, my favorite performance wasn’t really a concert. It was more of a showcase of extremely talented local performers. Mostly all still in their teens, about five years ago. My favorite performer was a local violin player named Daisy Thompson. She was amazing.”
Brian choked and sputtered on the drink he’d just taken while Ned stared at me with his mouth hanging open.
“Seriously?” Brian asked. “You’re telling me that your favorite performance was Daisy Thompson playing her violin?”
“Yeah.” I shrugged. “Why? Is that weird?” Though I didn’t care if it was. She’d been amazing, like she’d been one with her instrument and I could’ve listened to her play all night. I’d been there with school. It had been a rare field trip that we’d gotten to take.
“Nope.” He looked like he was trying to not to laugh. “Not weird at all. I bet she was awesome.”
“She was.” But I didn’t like the way those two looked, as if I’d just said the most ridiculous thing. “What’s going on? You two look like you’re about to wet your pants.”
“Jurnie,” Brian said nicely. “Have you kept up with Daisy Thompson? To see what she’s up to today?”
“No. Should I have?”
Ned cleared his throat. “Let me show you what she’s been up to these days.” Then he hit a button and a song started up.
The unmistakable sound of a violin began and I thought it was weird that they’d have this kind of music ready to play. Then the drums started. Then the guitar. Then if I wasn’t mistaken, the bass. It all came together in a medley of sounds that were pleasing to my ears, even if I didn’t know what was happening.
The voice of an angel came out next. This was no doubt more rock and roll than anything I usually listened to, but damn. It was good.
As it ended, Ned cut in. “What do you think?”
“That was really good, but—”
“The singer is Daisy Thompson and the band is her band, Pushing Daisies.”
“Not her band,” Brian corrected him. “She’s in it with her brothers and they’re getting quite a lot of radio play.”
“I’ve heard of them but didn’t know enough about them to put it together,” I told them quietly. “But wow, she’s still awesome.”
As we ended my bit on the show, Brian told me I’d done fantastic, whatever that meant, and they’d be pulling me in again soon.
Apparently, they did this with every batch of interns. That had been a test of sorts to see if I could handle being on the radio as well as their joking around. Obviously, I’d passed with flying colors.
As I made my way back to the accounting department in a haze of excitement and wondering if I’d embarrassed myself, I secretly hoped they’d call me in again. That had been fun on my end though they didn’t seem as excited. Then again, I didn’t have a lot in the way of excitement so anything would probably get me going.
“How’d it go?” Alyse, the accountant I mainly worked with, asked.
“It was fun.”
“Seriously?” Alyse was around thirty years old and always had her black hair pulled away from her face. She’d told me one of the things she loved about working here at the station was being able to dress down. They were very casual and could get away with jeans most of the time.
I didn’t try that as an intern unless it was Casual Friday, which it kind of always was here. Still, like today, I wore a flowy skirt that went to my knees and a button-up blouse, as my mother called it. For shoes, I typically went with ballet flats because I did a lot of running around in this office. I should probably wear a step tracker to count it as exercise.
Nodding, I said, “It was. Though I didn’t know that my favorite violin player is now in a band. Pushing Daisies.”
Her hazel eyes widened. “Seriously?” she asked again. Alyse used that word a lot. “I saw Pushing Daisies perform many times when they were still doing the bars. I love them. They’re opening for Courting Chaos now and getting bigger by the minute.”
Unfortunately, I didn’t know who Courting Chaos was, either.
Maybe it was time for me to expand my musical knowledge. Especially in case Ned and Brian call me into the studio again.