“Radio… It’s all right once in a while. Otherwise it tends to induce bad values, false dreams, lazy habits. Listening to these stories of foolishness and violence… this is no way for a boy to grow up.” Rabbi Baumel to Joe, Radio Days, 1987.
Is it a lost vehicle, radio? Have we been sucked into the vortex of A Wired World, ne’er to return? Of course, in 2011 there are exponentially fewer talk and variety shows than were present in The Golden Age. Thanks to National Public Radio in the US, however, we still have gems like “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” and “A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor” to unwind to on Saturdays and on commutes (usually via a live stream). Talk shows aside, what about the music, folks? WHAT ABOUT THE MUSIC?
I was thrown into a situation of having only radio and a handful of CDs (ok, and an iPad) for the better part of a month earlier this year. Jobless, I had the time for a social experiment (personal experiment?) of sorts. I limited myself to only twisting and turning knobs and dials and placing a hand-crafted aluminum foil/wire hanger device on the antennae of an archaic boom box in an attempt to find palatable music. I have to say, it was pretty crap. I lasted 2 days. 2.5 tops. When I did locate a promising station my earholes were so inundated with static, advertisements and Deutsch weather reports, I quickly became frustrated and moved on from what could have been a really amazing program. I mean, look at TiVo and DVR. Case closed.
What I did find were two really stellar stations which I already knew about. FM4 based in Austria, and On3 from right here in jolly ol’ Bayern. My rediscovery only drives the point home that radio – good, smart, provocative radio with MUSIC – does exist. Of course, it is much more enjoyable digitally through a laptop or, in this particular case, my trusty iPad.
I have my record collection. It is organized. It has been successfully merged with another, finally. I have the internet and countless iPods, hard drives and cassettes. Last Thursday, however, radio was the game changer. Radio made my week, maybe even my year (so far). Despite reading about a particular record on more than a handful of blogs I peruse regularly, including a mention by one of my own colleagues here at KR, I paid it no attention. I wrote it off. Because of lowish reviews (stupid), whispers of navel gazing and famous family connections, I didn’t think I’d like it. Well, Mark Ronson, I owe you an apology. I am truly sorry. I love you, your Q-Tip/MNDR amalgam and video genius – all thanks to FM4. I might be a few months late hopping on this train but I don’t have to be first.
Now, go dance and be jubilant. I know you wanna.