#RFBatHome (Part 4): Rina of “Aural Medication” broadcasts live from SoHo, NYC.

#RFBatHome continues our ongoing series featuring our hosts who continue to do their shows from home. Today, Part 4: Rina of “Aural Medication.”

I got the radio bug pretty early on — at first, as a listener. My family immigrated to the U.S. from the former Soviet Union in the 1970s, and even though I didn’t speak English when I came here, some of my earliest memories are of songs I heard on the radio: Glen Campbell, the Bee Gees, Roberta Flack, KC & the Sunshine Band. When I was a kid, I remember recording myself on an old tape recorder we had in the house, pretending to do some sort of program, speaking with a fake English accent and interviewing my barely verbal baby brother.

As a teen, I listened to a bunch of different local New York stations alternating between Top 40, rock and oldies. I suppose I was a bit of a radio geek: I got to know all the jocks and often called in for requests, contests and giveaways. I also started buying records and going to shows, obsessing over one artist or another and wanting to turn everyone else on to my new passion.

By the time I got to college I knew I wanted to get involved with radio. I had already become one of those mixtape maniacs — always ready to impose my latest discoveries on willing victims. My first show was a two-hour late-night slot, once a week at KRCC in Colorado Springs, a station that had gone from a tiny student-run operation to an independent, professional public radio station serving southern Colorado. I loved it and sometimes, I practically lived there. I moved around to different time slots and formats, expanding my musical horizons, but eventually I moved back to New York and found a spot at WFDU out of Teaneck, N.J., where I spent about seven years. I only left when I had my first kid. (At that point, late nights looked very different, indeed.)

A few years ago, I happened to be in Bushwick and walked by a storefront with a big banner that said RadioFreeBrooklyn.com. I made a mental note and checked them out when I got home. Over the next few months I tuned in periodically and was really impressed by the variety of programming. It sounded like the hosts had free reign — this was right up my alley — and I wanted in! “Aural Medication” began airing in the fall of 2017, on Friday mornings at 11:00 a.m., and I’ve been doing the show ever since. I aim to play a wide variety of songs from many genres, countries and eras. I like finding connections between genres and blending varied styles of music in a way that sounds both seamless and interesting.

Rina’s setup in her SoHo apartment.

When the news of the pandemic started getting really dire (or as Paul Simon sings, “When Numbers Get Serious”) RFB made the decision to close its studios. We had the option to rebroadcast previous episodes or work from home. After airing a couple of repeat episodes, it turned out the latter was doable for me. I invested in a bit of equipment (an Audio Technica ATR2100x-USB Cardioid mic and a small Behringer Xenyx 502 5-channel mixer). I use my PC laptop for music and a Mac laptop — borrowed from RFB — for broadcasting via Audio Hijack (thank you, Tom!). And now my show is live again!

Sergei, Rina’s handsome new co-host.

All of this is set up in the only feasible place in my apartment: my daughter’s bedroom, on her desk, which I have to set up and strike each week. And though I’m glad to have this capability, it hasn’t been without some challenges. While it’s seemingly more convenient than having to travel, I know I’m not alone in saying I prefer RFB’s studios. Since I don’t usually have guests, there aren’t any logistical obstacles to doing the show as usual — aside from setting up and breaking down all the components each time. But I do find that I miss the ride from downtown Manhattan to the studio, when I thought about what I was going to play and talk about. Physically being in the studio puts me in that headspace where I can totally focus my thoughts and energy on what I’m doing — plus the technical aspects are somewhat more predictable in the studio than at home.

These pandemic times are definitely strange, and it’s hard to gauge how to assess or talk about what is happening. Many of us are in a kind of holding pattern. We’re unsure of what’s in store and experiencing different levels of anxiety. But when I do the show each week and have my headphones on, I get immersed in the music. It provides some relief from thinking about “IT” all the time and I hope my listeners feel the same. I’ve managed to find some interesting vaguely thematic material to throw in here and there, which I hope is amusing. Ultimately, I’m grateful to still be doing this and to Radio Free Brooklyn for giving me the medium.

Tune in to “Aural Medication” Fridays at 11:00 a.m.