Perfect silence — the kind that begs you to breathe so you aren’t left alone with it — was hard to find, but Robert Quigley expected an audio story, and it wasn’t going to narrate itself.
The usually quiet buildings on campus bustled with the chatter of students preparing for finals, and thunder growled outside. My apartment would have to do. I opened my closet door and slid my bulkiest coats to either side. I sat on the faux-wooden floor — my usual office chair’s flimsy, metallic legs rattled too much. A hiking boot served as a shoddy microphone stand. I turned on the mic I rented earlier that week and watched the sound-level bars twitch with the din of previously imperceptible noise: Lightbulbs hummed, the air-conditioning rattled. Even the sound of my own voice made me cringe.
My first semester at The Daily Texan the following spring had the makings of a permanent departure from my makeshift sound booth. To work in the basement of the Texan was to be part of a team, and I regret that a pandemic cut my time there short. Thank you to my editor Sara Schleede for making me feel welcome during those precious two months in my first newsroom.
In the meantime, I’ve had plenty of successes and failures. Now, I’m working at The Drag, which has been a dream of mine since I became a journalism student. I own my own microphone, and I don’t have to record from a closet anymore. But I wouldn’t be working here without Robert Quigley, who taught me that I didn’t need an acoustically sterile room, a sound engineer’s knowledge or Bing Crosby’s voice to produce a story I could be proud of.
This column is too short to individually thank all of the friends and family who’ve encouraged me these last four years, but allow me to pay it forward with a small piece of advice: Stop waiting for perfect silence and start telling that story.