Radio & Nostalgia
A wonderful memory is one that takes me to a place, a time or a feeling from my past and grounds me. I like nostalgia because it reaffirms that I am a human, a sentient being. This is the way I am built and a way in which I can reflect on myself and feel emotions that I have needed to bring about in order to make sense of ‘Me’.
I was told once to stop being so romantic about my memories. I had to ask ‘Why?’ The answer I was given, is that I should ‘get back into the real world.’ Whatever that is…
As if being human in the “real world” should disenfranchise myself from memories that make me feel good.
A Good Memory From The Past
What made me come to this point in my life was hearing something I had not heard in a long, loooonnnng while. I happened to come across these 3 letters while surfing the net, NPR.
My Mom used to listen to WJR out of Detroit and they would sometimes have clips from NPR called ‘All Things Considered’, or maybe she would listen to WGTE — a public broadcasting service based in Toledo, my home town. Either way, she always had the station playing in the background on a transistor radio. My Dad bought me that radio and it slowly became a mainstay in the kitchen.
The thing that I always liked about NPR were the voices of the presenters and their sonorous tones. Their calmness, clarity and charm. I also liked the great collections of music they would intersperse between segments while broadcasting; Mostly modern jazz or some type of eclectic music.
Some of the music reminded me of Sesame Street music or the grooving funky rhythms of Booker T and The MG’s.
Mostly it was the way the presenter spoke that resonated with me. They were very calm and matter of fact in their presentations. It was never sensational or extreme in personal opinions. It was as if they were telling me the news as it really was, no glamour. Their interviews were second to none and always appropriate to the person they were interviewing.
My Dad used to wash his company van in the back yard while listening to Ernie Harwell’s play by play banter for the Detroit Tigers. This was a usual occurrence on late Sunday afternoon in preparation for his workweek. I take after my Dad in that I like to have me car cleaned inside and out for the week ahead, but I listen to streaming music or my podcasts.
Before my Mom took over my radio, I used to listen to it at night. I would put it under my pillow and surf the dial, going from one station to the next in hopes of finding a favorite tune or something interesting. At the extreme ends of the dial there would be this fuzzy noise and curvy whistling that I used to believe were alien space ships. When I finally came upon a tune that I really liked, I would listen so intently as to not miss a single word or note, because I never knew when I would here it again.
In my early 20’s I tuned into CBC radio out of Canada. I lived across the lake from Windsor and could pick up their stations the best at night. I would drive out to the country and tune into Brave New Waves or Night Lines with Brent Bambury. That was supreme listening and introduced me to some of the most eclectic music and finest musicians around. CBC radio really expanded my mind with new and interesting music.
Just a side note: I use to DJ at the local collage radio station WXUT. My call name was Victor Rattrap. I used to take heaps of albums into studio B, which was for commercial production, and spend hours listening to all these artist that corporate FM radio would never play. It was a whole new world of amazing bands like XTC, The Dead Milkmen, Mental As Anything, The Cure and The Clash. That was my born again moment in life.
Will Today Create Nostalgia For This Generation?
Today’s streaming apps have taken that magic away. Now I can listen to one song over and over until I die, all the while knowing that the artist isn’t being paid diddly squat from my listening to their songs a hundred times. But I don’t want to not listen to their songs because I like their songs. I’m self pleasuring knowing full well that they are being ripped off. But it has always been like this in the corporate music world. They take the artist in, chew them up and then spit them out and move on to the next big thing.
I wanted to be part of that world in my youth. I wanted to be a rock and roll star playing the drums. I’m happy I didn’t succeed, though the money would have been nice. But I hear about all these musicians who got ripped off and hardly ever saw a dime for all their work. Unless of course they Sold Out! Don’t even get me started on how a lot of music today sucks because I don’t want to sound my age.
Sorry about the tangent I just went off on there. My mind works like that and that is why I was never good at Telephone (Chinese Whispers) in school as a kid. In that game where the first person is given a word and that word is whispered from person to person and the last person says some word that doesn’t even match the word that they began with. I was usually one of the kids that changed the word on purpose just to mess the game up for everyone. I know, devious.
Then Radio Died
In my “Grown Up Years” my attention shifted to Talk Radio. I wanted to be in the “Know.” It was around this time that Tipper Gore led the drive to clean up radio because it was offending her. People like Howard Stern headed straight to what was called “Satellite Radio”, what we today know as the internet. The thing about the Tipper Gore era was that radio became a wasteland of sensationalist radio host like Rush Limbaugh, Ben Shapiro, Glen Beck and a host of other gruesome voices. Now all those sensational voices can be seen on FOX television as well. Excuse me while I puke in my own mouth.
Now on the good side of the internet we have the Podcast and there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, to choose from. Personally, I love anything to do with science, physics, comedy and music. Okay, I’ll name you my top 5 podcast (not necessarily in this order):
*Star Talk with Neil deGrasse Tyson, (Science)
*The Thinking Atheist, (Secularism)
*Factually with Adam Conover, (Intriguing interviews)
*The Record Store Day Podcast with Paul Myers, (Interviews with musicians)
*(and my favorite one of all time is) Conan Needs A Friend. (The Best Comedy Podcast EVER!)
Radio has lost all it’s glory but I’m happy I can still listen to the soothing sounds and feature shows of NPR, and know that all is not lost!