Sunday, November 11, 2007

How I reinvented radio.

You have probably seen pictures of families sitting around listening to the radio. Mom might be knitting, dad might be reading the newspaper, but usually they are just sitting there staring at a big piece of furniture, apparently engrossed in some story or news report.

My parent had such a piece of furniture, as did the parents and grandparents of every kid that I grew up with, but the glory of network radio was well past before I came along. To me, the big, elaborately carved, inlaid-encrusted thing was simply something else to play with. It played records, but big clumsy things that contained music that no one under 90 would want to listen to. Besides what was then just "radio" and now called "AM," the big thing also received shortwave and "ship-to-shore." The latter was a bunch of beeping that I now know was Morse Code.

I was a TV kid, and have always looked upon those photos of people staring at a radio with great amusement and, as some of you know, nothing amuses me more than Edgar Bergman becoming a multi-millionaire back when that meant something by doing ventriloquism on the radio. The whole thing has always seemed to me to be nothing short of sheer idiocy.

Enter books on tape, actually books on CD, now actually books downloaded to my ipod.

I spend a lot of time in the car, hate commercial radio, and dislike the tight rotation of satellite radio (meaning they play the same playlist over, and over, and over on any given channel).

So I bought a book on CD from Amazon. A mystery. Great for driving, it makes the time just fly by on the Interstate. Bad for in-city driving since I find myself sitting in the driveway just to hear "just a little more."

Books on CD are a nuisance, however, since a single book often arrives spread across 17 discs. Arg!

Then I discovered that they can be downloaded directly to the pc, and even more directly into the ipod. Wow! The dealer was able to install an ipod adopter in the car, an option that I had ironically declined when I ordered that car.

Meanwhile, a truck knocked down the cable wire that crosses the street and enters my house. It's happened before. What has also happened before has been my being annoyed with the cable company. Charter! For many of you, that's all I have to provide in way of explanation. I promised myself that the next time they annoyed me would be their last. I had already switch the Internet connection to ATT when the Charter tech people annoyed me for the 100th time. I called about the down wire and, cutting out the unpleasant part, the
satellite TV system is being installed on Tuesday.

So I sat in the family room last night, Rooty sleeping in a chair with his four feet straight up in the air, me with my ipon headphones in place, and I listened to a mystery that I had downloaded. As I sat there listening, I realized that I was staring at the TV set, just like those long dead people in the pictures had been staring at their 3 1/2 feet tall radios.

It may have just been the trance from staring so long at a single object, but the characters in the detective novel came alive, really alive, and their world and the objects in their world became real. I was amongst them as they talked, and moved about, shaved and showered, and merged lies and truths and possibilities. This morning I actually had trouble realizing that I had only heard a description of one piece of evidence and not see it (although I can still see it vividly, in detail, in my memory). Network radio must have been grand, sorry I missed it, but glad that I reinvented it again.

1 comment:

:P fuzzbox said...

Sure you weren't smoking anything?