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The Case of the “Dead Air.”

Dear Dream Detective:
Ever since I began my career as a radio announcer, I’ve had a recurring nightmare. I put a tape with some music on for my listeners. I then leave the room and wander off to somewhere else in the studio. Suddenly, I realize that I’ve miscalculated the length of the tape. It’s about to run out and the station is about to go into "dead air." I run to the
announcer’s booth, but the music has run out and the station is playing dead air. I wakeup in a sweat.
Rex Denny
Scranton, Pennsylvania

Background Clues

One of a radio announcer’s primary fears is dead air. Listeners hearing nothing turn the
radio dial to another station. It should be noted that Rex has a personality type which
makes him distant, meaning that he is very uncomfortable being in his feelings.

The Solution to the Mystery
Dear Rex:
A person who is distant attempts to experience life without ever getting absorbed by anything. He tries to keep his awareness unaffected by emotions, people and experiences. Being on the radio is a way of being there with others and yet keeping your distance. (Incidentally, internet chat rooms are another strategy to maintain psychological distance). Since your listeners are not in the station with you, your physical distance allows you to maintain an emotional distance. Of course, people can be insistent. They can demand things from you; your time, your effort, your love, your money. More essentially, they would like to collapse your distance and make you there for them. Your effort has always been to placate them by having them become self-absorbed through music. When you feel that the world is totally selfabsorbed, and thus no longer focusing on you, you feel free to withdraw from them. You
do this symbolically by leaving the broadcasting room; you literally distance yourself. One of the primary fears for a person like you is that he will lose his emotional distance. Since air is a symbol of distance, because in air we experience "space," dead air symbolizes the state in which distance has collapsed. Thus your phobia of dead air on the radio is understandable. You know that without your distance you will find yourself qualified by the reality of other people. Most of all, you feel anxious that you will begin to care for them. Care is an insuperable obstacle to those who are seeking personal freedom.


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