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March 19, 2014

Completely Obsessed

Good Faith Flying Machine

Do you ever wonder if any of it exists — if any of the miraculous miracles really only work because we believe they do? That the only reason an airplane can fly is because we say it can, not because of any complex science. That if we stop believing, the bird will fall. Peter Pan will come crashing to the ground.

Radio signals baffle me just the same. I push a button that starts a song. Invisible bits of sound travel at inconceivable speeds through the atmosphere, teleporting within milliseconds to your speakers. And with you and I miles away, we’re singing the same song, at the same time, together. Impossible, but yet …

There are plenty of days when I think about my job and the impact it can have on a person’s life. I’m not a doctor (though as a music director, I get to call myself an M.D.). I do not save lives. I’m not an architect, creating columns people will marvel over for centuries. I’m not a water specialist fighting to keep toxins out of our systems. I’m not a humanitarian, traveling to the most impoverished parts of the world to feed the hungry, clothe the poor and help spread vaccines.

And for the most part, I’m not a talking head, one who can use their megaphone as a way to help inspire folks to do good. Outside of a sequel to “Footloose,” what I do every day could go away and civilization would still propel forward, for better or worse.

With that said, I do understand the power I have. I understand that by playing the right song at the right time, I can connect with a listener in ways that could set off a domino effect in their day. The songs can be an escape from a hell and can be the means to push someone to make a change. This may not be on the level of doctors, architects, water specialists or humanitarians, but I don’t take for granted the reality of what it is and can be.

I’ve said it before, and it’s always worth remembering: I’m very fortunate to be able to do what I do. At the expense of sounding pretentious or too earnest, I do think of what I do and how I do it as art. The hour is my canvas, and I put a lot of thought into how it’s painted. Some come out masterpieces, some come out failures, and plenty are good enough to get by. I get to perform my art as a career, and that’s amazing. It’s every dream I had at 9 years old, and it’s still the foundation for the momentum I use today.

Five years ago this month, I started a show called “The Weekly Feed”. I had high hopes for what it could become, without much of a road map. Each month or so, I found myself coming up with a new idea for its construction, and later, opportunities to branch it out. What started as a one-hour new music show, a means for me to share my fandom, found its way into places like Salon.com, Nylon and Paste magazines, and on the walls of Gentleman Jack’s websites. A radio show, a video series and a written piece — all from an idea I had in the shower.

That hour has enabled me to travel the country, meet (almost) all of my heroes, be part of things I used to have to sneak into through the back door, and see more live shows that I can count or remember. It’s also given me the opportunity to instantly have a dialogue with you. The amount of times one of you has introduced yourself, and either asked what new music you should pay attention to or — more times than not — told me what I should be playing is unaccountable. I’ve gained so many friendships from those conversations. Grateful is not a big enough word.

I’ll have to take it on good faith that this is really happening. That this really is flying. But in the event it’s only working because you say it is, then I must thank you. Thank you for believing and keeping me in the air.

Kyle Meredith is the music director of WFPK and host of the nationally syndicated “The Weekly Feed.” Hunting bears was never his strong point.