I just found and digitized the earliest recording I ever made.

At age five I got a tape recorder and microphone for my birthday. It was a General Electric model that had a condenser microphone with an on/off switch, meaning you could pause a recording from the mic rather than hitting the buttons on the machine. I think it was battery-only, but I’m not 100 percent on that.

But man, I put that thing through its paces. The recorder came with a single blank cassette, or a “reusable tape cartridge,” as the label said. It only had five minutes of recording space on either side; I’ve never seen another tape of that length. But it was more than enough for a five year old’s needs. (I did re-record over some previous audio, because I remember recording myself interviewing my sister, who was voicing a Barbie doll. There’s about two seconds of this interview still on the tape.)

Side one starts as every good recording session does: with a mic check! My little kid voice comes on to say “Hello… goodbye.” I sing a song with my older brother accompanying me on guitar, something we wrote and/or ad-libbed called “Me & The Car.” It’s kind of hilarious to hear a five year old sing “I went to the city/to look for a job.” Not exactly singing what I knew! There’s also some tape of me trying to accompany myself on guitar strings, but since I didn’t learn how to play until I was a fair bit older, this was less successful.

Side two is where I tried to make my own radio station, inexplicably named “WBBL News & Weather.” And judging by the tape, very little about my life has changed in 38 years. After introducing myself and the name of the station, I admit that “we don’t have the music yet,” so I re-id a couple times and fill with a lot of weather. Apparently that April was very rainy, but June was going to be the start of “super-summer.” I also explain some facts about spring, such as “bunnies hop” and “frogs jump in water.” Then, when all seems lost, I find the music! Which was me putting the microphone in front of the living room speaker and recording part of “I Just Wanna Stop” by Gino Vannelli.

In short: I have always been a gigantic dork.