A Big Fish

Me and my friend Luke, at Icestock

I feel like elaborating on one reason why I like life at McMurdo, even though it feels really narcissistic.

McMurdo’s current population is 773. For much of the season, it’s been between 600 and 900 people.

Our tiny town makes its easier for everyone to stand out. Peoples’ stories and talents show through in a way that they might not in a bigger community. You can be anonymous if you want, but if you have a crazy story or a cool skill that you want to share with the community, even a little bit, you will be known for it.

In Madison, there are dozens and dozens of violin/fiddle players. A lot of them are much better at their craft than I am. A few of them even make a living at it.

I’ve had two people at McMurdo who, after hearing me play, ask me why I’m not back home working as a professional musician.

I hate sounding conceited, and I KNOW I sound conceited right now, but no one in Madison has ever asked me that. You know how nice it is to feel like one’s abilities as a musician are *actually* impacting a community in a positive way?

Insanely nice. I LOVE my music community back home, but being a fiddle player at McMurdo has been so dang satisfying. As far as I know, I am one of the only fiddle players here. I might be the only one. And I love filling that little niche in a music scene dominated by guitarists and bass players.


It’s a similar feeling with careers and notions of career “success.” I’ve semi-devoted myself to radio broadcasting since I was 16. Between WORT, WSUM, and Wisconsin Public Radio, Madison is bursting at the seams with quality radio broadcasting and broadcasting professionals. I have ridiculously talented colleagues. I have colleagues who are my age and far more “advanced” in their careers than I am because they have the drive,  discipline, and patience to devote themselves fully to a career path, rather than dabbling around in a little of everything, as I seem to do.

Here, no one cares what kind of career you have back in the “real world,” and no one seems too fussed about how your work here correlates with what you do back home. They just care that you do your job well, and then you’re decent to work with.

We have janitors and dishwashers here with masters degrees.

So not to diss Madison, because I freakin’ love the city that’s been my home for 95 percent of my life, but I sometimes feel like I fit in better at McMurdo than I do in Madison. I like being a big fish. I sometimes think my skills and contributions have a wider reach here than they do back home, even though no one needs helping starting a low-power radio station at McMurdo.

Not yet, at least 🙂




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