There is something you might not know about me. I am a huge radio fan.
My first radio memory was from third grade, when I was startled out of bed by my clock radio blaring out “My Sharona” in the middle of the night. But it was at 10 years old, when my family lived in Oak Park Illinois, a few blocks from the Chicago city limits, that the world opened up to me through that little dial. Once I discovered I could sample so much I was hooked. By junior high, I was in Philadelphia, where I practically lived on the floor in front of my stereo, scanning stations continuously and making mix tapes. Then there was the fun of calling the station trying to get through for a contest. What exactly was the best strategy for trying to be the 3rd or 9th caller? All I know was there were a lot of busy signals and my finger would get sore from all the dialing. Yes, dialing. The rotary phone. One time I got on the air requesting David Bowie. I was so nervous I could barely handle it.
During the Reagan years of high school my parents had NPR on every night and I listened to All Things Considered while washing dishes. By the time I was old enough to vote for the first time I had enough information to know I did not want Bush Sr. elected and I even volunteered registering democrats.
During my brief experience in the corporate world in Houston I worked a mind numbingly boring job as a temp cataloging geologic data for a major oil company. What saved me? At 2:00 Terry Gross and Fresh Air came on, and I was allowed to listen on my headphones during work.
My old DJ fantasies came true a few years back when I got to go on the air and spin a couple tracks at KUGS while promoting an upcoming show for my band. Come to think of it, we even played live in the studio once. Yay for radio!
I still have a couple of those old Philadelphia mix tapes. And I still listen to the radio every day. I don’t know what I would do without it.
Since commercial radio annoys the shit out of me. I’m lucky to live in a town with 2 npr affiliates, an excellent college station, a radio museum station, and even a pirate old timey station. If I can handle the ads, I can also hear French, Chinese and Punjabi stations which radiate down from Canada. And it’s free.
Sometimes when I consider moving up to the mountains I think about what I’d be missing. I guess I’d be missing all these crazy invisible waves passing though me all the time.
The kiddo and I are going to build a radio out of a paper towel tube and foil. I’ll let you know how it goes.