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July 08, 2010

Music Is

Central Pennsylvania's WNNK 104 played over my dentists radio last week. Sitting motionless, mouth propped open, I forced back a laugh at the soundtrack to my dental exam.

before I leave
brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack

"Harrisburg's work day radio station," apparently deems this to be standard fare for the workplace. From what I'm hearing, many local businesses agree. I picture politicians at the Capital, attorneys in Hershey and neurologists in Camp Hill bopping through their offices.

I'll get him hot
show him what I've got.

I know it gets a lot worse (or better) than this, depending on who you ask. Keep in mind that central PA is somewhat conservative. It's certainly not LA or New York City.

I'm not even the radio police. Much of what's out there is pretty fine by me. You'll catch me subtly playing air drums with my thumb or foot, mostly not understanding or even giving much attention to the lyrics.

I have a hard time tolerating only "positive" Christian radio, not that it's all bad either. I don't imagine a constant loop of Crystal Lewis and Michael W. Smith should be played in a nondenominational workplace. In the same way that I don't prefer a dental dance party, I'm not so sure that interjected sermons and mini sermons on Christian radio are appropriate for a workplace setting.

Yet who can deny that there is at least the potential for some powerful self-destructive forces to be at work? I'm not sure if it's my own filter creeping rightward or that of the greater culture leftward, but something is definitely moving here. Go ahead and listen to pop radio and tell me somethings not moving.

In my mind, there's a difference between

Let me go on
like a blister in the sun


Honey got a booty
like pow pow pow

Daytime - workplace - radio.

Sure, back in my day we had our Samantha Fox and Guns-n-Roses and Ice T. But you didn't hear their more obscure references played over mainstream radio. The booty lyrics just aren't fitting when you're trying to do a gait analysis on military personnel and soccer moms.

Music is good for the atmosphere of a PT office. Plus, it's practical for HIPPA privacy regulations. A little background noise keeps people from overhearing the details of other's business. I'd prefer that my mind (and the minds of my patients) not dwell even more on Lil Wayne and Lady Gaga.

Sorry, but country music is no option either. And sometimes, usually on Monday mornings and Thursday afternoons, I'm just not in the mood for the Gwen Stefani WHOO-HOOO guy.

So I made a CD from my home itunes selection. It contains a lot of Switchfoot and Reliant K and Kim Walker Smith alongside O.A.R. and Muse and Dave Matthews. And U2. Can we all at least agree on U2? The CD is simply made of songs that 1) the PT likes and 2) have lyrics appropriate for a professional setting.

I want to be respectful and sensitive. I'm there to do my part in stretching shoulders and strengthening knees. The last thing I want or need to do is preach to and proselytize somebody who already feels like an outsider.
Bad witness - bad for business.

On the other hand, it's pretty much white bred Christian America around here. My honest guess is that for every patient who's turned off by even subtle faith gestures, there will likely be ten who appreciate it and see it as a sign of shared values.

like Frank Sinatra
like Elvis and his mom
like Al Pacino's cash
nothing lasts in this life

If that alternative to the workplace booty call is too Jesus for someone, then maybe I should be okay with the fact that there are plenty of other outpatient PT offices around, some of which are certainly "WNNKing at Work," as they say.

Not everyone has the same values. I get that. Even WITHIN the office lies a good example of the dilemma. Kim is pretty conservative and gets a headache from anything with perceptible Auto-Tune. Debbie is far less conservative and perfectly at peace with the Black Eyed Peas. I think both of them claim to be Christians, and I see their points.

So today I sing to you, as one who beholds the power of the radio dial on an old CD/Radio/Cassette tape player in a small physical therapy office.

What should I play?

Is there an HD radio mix that justifies an upgrade? I think Howard Sterns permanently ruined my perception of Satellite Radio. Even if Satellite Radio is not all breast and fart jokes, it still seems unnecessary.

The whole thing becomes tedious and a little ridiculous when I don't have the time or mental energy to devote to such matters. That's why we mostly end up listening to nothing.

Is this trivial?

First Choice Rehabilitation Specialists is a smallish, independent company with no official music policy or custom mix ala Chic-Fil-A. Which is excellent, by the way. All walks of people go there because they do good work.

Yeah, I want our office to be like the Chic-Fil-A of orthopedic rehab. I could live with people of all worldviews coming because we do good work, the work being a testimony to what we believe. I want my joint manipulations and exercise prescription to be as good as a classic Chic-Fil-A chicken sandwich.

I could use one of those
right about now



Anonymous said...

Bob, I have been following your blog ever since you provided PT services to me three years ago. I don't remember if there was music playing in the backgroud. What I do remember is that I could tell what kind of a person you were, not by what you said, but by your actions. This is what would bring me make to your PT office, if the need every arose again.

Matt said...

Pandora. The online radio thing, not the soundtrack to the James Cameron movie.

Anonymous said...

I want to know why you totally ruled out country? Listen to some Brad Paisley, why don't ya?

Anonymous said...

For each person to agree on the type of music would take longer than PT so it makes the decision yours since you are the ruling king of your clinic. However, never WNNK. Anything Clapton,U2, Live, Cheap questionable lyrics here....

Marcus Goodyear said...

Clapton is fine, so long as you keep Cocaine in the loop. Or out of the loop. Or something.

I'm with Matt, though. Increasingly, Pandora is where music is headed. Or They do different things, but Pandora is easier to use.

I especially like that you discuss the challenges of creating a space that reflects the importance of your work and a sensitivity to the people you serve. Good stuff!

Bob Gorinski said...

Thanks for the words and suggestions. Never knew of Pandora. Pretty cool.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Pandora is like magic. You should try it out. Just type in an artist you like and matches it with an ad-hoc radio station of similar artists/songs.

I'm with you on the Christian music - Every time I turn on the Christian radio it seems like it's Third Day and I want to throw up if I hear it again. It's so freakin' homogenous. A little too Christian-clone and elvator-ish.

But I am also turned off, like you, by what plays on pop radio anymore. Around here, we call it the "Bitch-Ho" music (I have two teenage daughters). I guess that is a bit derrogatory, but... you get my point. Do you get WXPN over there in Harrisburg? That's my recommendation.

I also approve of your playlist - 100 percent. You are a Physical Therapist of good taste.

Sam Van Eman said...

I'll echo the comments made here already, Bob. Pandora works for me. So does Grooveshark. And Brad from shrinkingthecamel is a fellow Pennsylvanian. He's one of us and has kids older than ours, so take his advice. :)

The first anonymous comment here demonstrates the realization of your hope to be "a testimony to what we believe."

Glad you're thinking about this stuff.