Q101 and Harry Potter: Saying Goodbye

The End of an Era

I know I haven’t written in a while. I have another huge writing project that’s been taking up all my time. However, I feel like if there’s any day to write, it’s today.

Tomorrow, my childhood officially ends. Okay, I know that sounds ridiculously dramatic. I wouldn’t risk saying something like that if it didn’t feel so very true. Now I’m sure that, unless you completely avoid your television and computer, you know that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 premiers tomorrow. I will be there, in line, in a plaid skirt and tie and my dad’s old graduation robes. Twenty one years ago, I was born and J.K. Rowling was a waitress living in her car, writing notes on napkins. Just as we were all turning eleven, the first book came out.

I didn’t read it. I actively chose to avoid it. Harry Potter? That sounds stupid, I told myself. A bunch of wizards in a school? I don’t really know why I rejected it so strongly. For my entire reading life, I had devoured every fantasy book I could find like it was crack. Assuming it was a type of swallowable crack. After wearing away the pages on my copies of Narnia and The Dark is Rising, I should have thought, “Oh, hey. British children with magic are whimsical and awesome. Harry Potter contains magical British children. Maybe I should read it and become obsessed with it.” Instead, I ignored all my pleading friends and refused all contact. Until finally, my friend Tracey shoved the first three books at me and commanded me to borrow them. I read them in a week.

Then there was the wait you all remember, between books three and four. I swear it could have been eternity. I was a heroin addict (yep, we’re switching drugs) and suddenly, heroin was extinct. So I got into fanfiction. Roleplay forums. Anything for a quick Potter fix. The fourth came out, another eternity to the fifth, sixth, seventh. Then suddenly, it was over. I cried on the last page of the seventh book (we’re pretending that the Epilogue doesn’t exist, by the way). But still, there was light. There were movies. Tomorrow at midnight, that all ends. The people (not characters, that’s not what they feel like) I grow up with are going their separate ways. No more stories. No more adventures. Harry and the gang are adults now, with lives and kids of their own. They don’t have time to be sharing their adventures with outsiders. They just want the quiet.

For all us misfit kids who never really made it to the upper social circles, Harry, Hermione, Ron (and Draco, if you were a girl and went through that bad boy phase, not that I’m admitting anything) were more real to you than half the people who never bothered to notice you existed. Wow, that sounded melodramatic. Really though, Harry Potter was more than a series of books. It was a world we all lived in. A place we went when the real world was too much. A group of friends we knew better than ourselves. Harry will always be there to go back to, but like the Beatles and Tolkien, he’s slipping out of the now. Already, there are teenagers who have never read a single book. Harry Potter is our generation’s savior. We won’t forget him, even once those final credits roll tomorrow night.

But that isn’t the only thing ending tomorrow. For all you Chicagoans, there’s another thing ending. For twenty years, Q101 has been Chicago’s ultimate alternative rock station. They started with “Friday I’m in Love” by the Cure–incidentally, one of my top ten favorite songs of all time. They were there counseling troubled kids when Kurt Cobain’s suicide shocked everyone. They fostered Disturbed, Local H, Fall Out Boy, and dozens of other local, now international sensations on Local 101. They’ve always been there for a song, a concert announcement, an interview, a dirty joke. Tomorrow, Q101’s DJs come off the air forever. After that . . . well, no one actually knows.

For twenty years, Q101’s djs have brought together rock fans all over the city. They’re more friends that are departing now, for a new life. Long ago there was Mancow, who used to shock the airwaves in the mornings. There are Sherman and Tingle, who kept me laughing all morning as I drove back to college for the first time by myself, fighting back tears over my anxiety over graduation. There are the Manno brothers, who greeted me every day after school. Twitch, god of the web page, offering up concert updates and silly videos. Tim Virgin and Pogo riffing about bands. Electra, ruling the airwaves with the Last Letter Game. Top 9 at 9. What’s the Point. Just to rub it in, Sarah and I missed the very last Q101 Jamboree. Lolla is great, but there’s nothing like a good, muddy Q101 show. Or there used to be. Rumor has it, all this will be replaced by an all news station. I think I could cry. The days of radio are over. Commercialism wins. Pick another platitude.

So tomorrow, I say goodbye to two icons. Millions will be crying with me over Harry Potter, but I hope there are a good few who sit around to listen while the Q101 djs share the best of the last 20 years. IPods and Grooveshark just can’t replace a whole community, listening to music together. I heard almost all my favorite songs first on Q101. I don’t know what I’ll tune to the next time I turn on the radio. I guess it’s time to do some searching.

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