Monday, June 01, 2009

Radio is the sound salvation

Though not my first media love, radio is a powerful medium. Though I don't pay attention to the ratings game, it looks like radio ratings methodology is changing. What I love about the early results of this tabulation is that political blowhards from all points on the spectrum and sports blowhards are not doing well. Many talk products are junk food. Sure, I can consume this stuff like sitting down and eating a bag of chips or box of cookies, but I feel dumber and less healthy after I'm done consuming.

When satellite radio came to the market, I was an early customer. Satellite almost seemed like a necessity when I moved to South Dakota and was driving in rural areas with little choice, if any, for radio. Sometimes the road was so long, I forced myself toward poor selections of country music or a regional Jesus station. Eventually I loved the selection on Sirius, though when we moved to the Frugal Rule in our household, Sirius was one of the first things to go. Though I haven't driven like a trucker or someone who drives for a living, I have put on plenty of miles, appreciating the companionship, information and provocation from the radio.

Bill Simmons from wrote that satellite radio could not compete with mp3s and podcasting and will eventually fail. I don't want to believe it, because I hope to return to satellite someday, but the argument makes sense. Though satellite radio can specialize and meet my interests more deeply while also expanding my musical horizons--podcasting and music subscriptions are a powerfully market driven force. I've been further driven away from expensive television subscriptions because I can get free podcasts of Bill Maher, Pardon the Interruption, Rachel Maddow, and Keith Olbermann (my favorite radio junk food).

Sometimes the radio junk food has some social worth. Seattle sports radio is celebrating the 30 year anniversary of the only major professional sports championship in Seattle--the Supersonics' NBA title won on June 1, 1979. Today I reflected upon beloved players, watching the games with my dad and friends, and the jubilant screams as we rushed to the street, shouting at the top of our lungs and jumping up and down. Having a favorite team win a championship is a unique elation. I'm so glad it happens on the court or field in so many sports--I wish it could happen in major college football. That title for the UW Huskies in 1991 was fun, but having voters with a role stinks.

Since my return, I haven't found my radio groove in the Seattle metro. I didn't miss the static that seems to plague the radio around here. I can't believe that I struggle pick up the NPR outlet clearly even though I live in King County. I'm living off of Mariners coverage, podcasts, and mp3s like Elvis Costello's Radio, Radio reminding me that radio is the sound salvation, while I play with my youngest daughter, unpack our boxes, and try to find where things go.

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