I was talking to a coworker about the ending of this gig; he shares my sense of excitement at the prospect of moving on. He calls the job "A drain and a grind,"
Of course we embraced this job and made the most of it when we had committed to it, but it's just as he calls it: both a drain and a grind. When you combine those mechanisms, you get the scary blades in the sink.
Here's why it's a grind: imagine a stand-up comedian taking 15 stories from the media and crafting them into 40-second routines of staggering brilliance within 24 hours. It's necessary to imagine it, since it doesn't happen in the real world. It's too much for anyone to do and produce real quality. Loathe as we are to admit we aren't equal to a task, when the task is unrealistic it becomes a grind. It's arduous and there's very little pleasure left in it.
Here's why it's a drain: we have to do it six days a week. Twelve to fifteen stories a day six days a week ads up to around one hundred brilliant short compositions, executed with the best possible delivery and often with added production, per week-with a mere two weeks off a year. It really does suck all the creativity out of you, and a lot of your mental energy. There's simply too much being asked of your system to allow replenishment.
This is an industrial formula. Since the companies owning radio regard it as a widgit, they grind out the product with mechanized efficiency and squeeze out the maximum from the raw material for their money. As industrialists they are unable to hear the fatigue, the chronic stress, the controlled panic that underscores voices on the air with a mind to the effect on the listener; to them a stressed worker is as satisfying as the sweat upon an apple picker's brow or a demolished sacred mountain. When they see some sort of destruction, they see success. To move in and shoot all the buffalo or rip all the coal out of a vein or drain an aquifer and then move on, to them, is a reassurance that they control the known universe. They must cause quantifiable defeat or see proof of destruction to know they have "won" and that they have gotten their "money's worth".
I'm resigned to my cog status for the rest of my working life in this robber baron economy, in this culture of commerce...but I'm immensely relieved to take my creative life OUT of it.