The first time I pick up the phone and call the police, there’s a good chance my heart will bust out of my chest.
But then I’ll get used to it. And, eventually, I’ll get good at it.
You see, this summer I’m going to monitor emergency communications (via scanner) in the Toronto Star radio room, a tiny space that is affectionately known as “the box.”
Journalists like Allan Woods, Graeme Smith, and Ian Stewart have all spent time in this 10 x 15 ft. room, listening to the radio waves, making countless phone calls, and riding the crests of breaking news.
Tomorrow, this rookie will walk into 1 Yonge Street and become one of the new kids in the box–and on the blog. Cue heart palpitations.
I may not be able to get any sleep tonight (adrenaline doin’ what it does), but I should probably get used to streaks of insomnia anyway. After all, the Star spares no radio roomer from shifts that start at midnight and run until 8:00 am. Although this does make me a little queasy, it’s also exciting to think about all the chocolate bars I’ll be able to justify while tracking a news narrative that never sleeps.
This year’s radio room “grads” have shared their parting thoughts. Although I have only the vaguest idea of what I’m truly in for, Adrian Morrow does provide a telling list:
I’ve learned how to talk to people at some of their most painful moments and get them to reveal some of their most intimate memories.
I’ve learned how to find people I thought were untraceable.
I’ve learned that you never really get over that fear of picking up the phone and calling the family of a dead person. You just do it.
I’ve learned that when writing a story seems easy, I’m doing it wrong.
I’ve learned that sometimes you don’t have time to think about reporting — you just have to pick up the phone and start making calls.
So, this will be my first real gig in my own big, bustling city. I’m already anticipating a few extravagant wipe outs (humble beginnings and what not) but I want to do this thing, and I want to do it well.
“They’re hungry. You remember when you were hungry?” –Editor, describing a display of fervor by the journalists who broke Watergate. (All the President’s Men. 1976)