Long before the days of Spotify and Pandora and iTunes Radio, back in the dark ages of 2001, there was Radio Disney. It was a fuzzy, barely intelligible AM station that played the best Disney hits (read: music from the Lizzie McGuire soundtrack) and occasionally had celebrity guest stars. The show had spunky little Kid Casters, which were six to twelve-year-old radio announcers who got to run the show alongside the adults. It was, essentially, the coolest job ever.
I don’t remember how my mom heard about the auditions, but one Sunday when I was six my parents loaded me into the ol’ white Suburban and drove to Aventura Mall for what seemed like two days. (I later learned that Aventura Mall is, in fact, about 45 minutes away from my house, and that my child self simply had no concept of time or direction. Also, I was so stoked to have a shot at a job where I could MAYBE someday meet Hilary Duff that all my senses were off.) In a little atrium-style area of the mall, there were tables set up, and there was Radio Disney insignia everywhere. I had arrived! It was all so very glamorous—cute kids and their dorky parents lined up for a shot at stardom in a South Florida shopping mall. I remember wearing a stretchy sleeveless shirt with thin rainbow stripes and a collar that folded over, which I loved because it was rainbow and I loved everything rainbow. I signed in, and my mother pressed a sticker with the number 6 to my shirt.
I waited in a line that led me to the stage—a raised platform with two folding chairs and a microphone—where a black-goateed man in a headset motioned for me to come sit. I introduced myself on the microphone: “Alexandra Weiner; age six; Miami, Florida.”
The man then proceeded to ask me what I thought was the most important trait I thought a Disney Kid Caster should possess.
A trait? What the hell is a trait?
At the ripe old age of six, nobody had yet taught me what the word “trait” meant. I had never even heard it before. I stared at the goatee man dumbfounded for a few seconds, convinced that time was not only standing still but that the entire population of the Aventura Mall was silently watching me, before blurting, “Uh—funny. You’ve got to be funny. But you’ve got to be born—”
“So you have to have been born to be funny?” Goatee said, his voice dripping with condescending dismissal. “I see.”
“No,” I insisted. “You’ve—you’ve got to be born with it—”
“Time’s up!” Goatee laughed a fake laugh and I wanted to murder him.
My mother waited for me at the other side of the stage, arms open. I didn’t cry. My mouth was stuck slightly open, in complete disbelief that I had blown my chance at Disney stardom, that my one shot had literally lasted all of 40 seconds.
As for the coveted Kid Caster position: it went to some blonde girl whose audition number was 11. It was also August 11, and it was her 11th birthday. Good for her.
But I look back and I’m grateful that I didn’t get the part. Who knows? I could have been discovered for my cleverness and spunk (which, although extremely present, did not show themselves during my interview) and become a Disney Channel star who ended up in some fancy rehab center in Utah. Even if that didn’t happen, I would have spent parts of my career surrounded by evil show business people like Goatee. It’s a good thing I never entered that world because I don’t think I would have been able to handle it. I think I would have cracked under the public eye. Let the 11-year-old blonde girl have it. She’ll probably have a great infomercial someday.