Turn the Radio Off

“Radio, radio,” as Brooke White would say. And she does say it. She sings it. I hear her words at least once a day.

But once, maybe twice, is all I hear of this song by Brooke White. It’s not like “Three,” Britney Spears’ newest musical controversy that emanates loud and clear and often plenty more than three times a day on my car’s FM radio.

Yes, the radio. I listen to it all the time now.

Steve Allen once called the contraption “the theater of the mind,” not specifying if radio’s play were a light-hearted comedy or an epic tragedy.

Bob Dylan once said the radio “makes hideous sounds.” He was on to something.

So you might ask, as I’ve recently heard the artist Ne-Yo ask in his song, “So Sick,” why can’t I turn off the radio?

Well, I usually have a tape adapter in my Chevy Malibu that allows me to plug in a discman or an IPod, saving me from radio’s repetition and monotony in a car that doesn’t have a CD player. A month ago, on the way home from a high school football game, the cassette deck spit the adapter out. The tape deck was fried. I haven’t been able to listen to my IPod or a CD since. 

It was the day the music died, at least, the good music. Indeed, I haven’t heard Don McLean since.

For some people, a radio-only world wouldn’t bring about a daily, Daughtry-induced headache. In fact, in small doses, I enjoy the radio. But now I live in the Dallas area.

You see, the urban planners here realized that sprawl was the most efficient way to build a metropolitan area. Dallas statutes mandate that the city limits of one suburb can’t come within 10 miles of another, with a bylaw stating that a congested four-lane highway is the only way to connect each town.

Because of this, and a job that requires me to travel to these suburbs on a near-daily basis, sometimes I drive up to three hours a day, a long time to get acquainted with FM radio.

In the mornings, there’s the Billy Madison show. He tells enlightening stories on the air about human waste. On his Web site, he classily chose to honor Veteran’s Day by featuring a section of “Hott Girls Wearing the Flag.”

When afternoon rolls around, Ryan Seacrest begins babbling, only stopping when he shares short, groundbreaking interviews in which Megan Fox can explain her maturation as an actress through her critically-acclaimed role in “Jennifer’s Body.”

In the evenings on the soft rock station, two women swap stories about how they believe daylight savings time is causing more traffic. They tell people, two days after the episode aired, that Katherine Heigl’s character was fired off Grey’s Anatomy.

Somewhere, Guglielmo Marconi is turning the radio dial in his grave.

Marconi* invented the radio, or at least the version of radio we know. He saw it as a way to spread information, not as a wasteland of repeated songs, gabbing DJs and Creed.

*When I hear this name, I automatically think of KU professor Chuck Marsh. Besides Marshall McLuhan, Marconi had to have been Marsh’s favorite guy to discuss.

Fortunately, I may never have to hear “With Arms Wide Open” again. A reprieve from radio sits in the driveway of my parents’ house, my brother’s Hyundai.

My brother is leaving the country soon. He won’t need his car for some time.

The Hyundai has a CD player. As far as I know, the cassette deck works.

I will soon get to experience radio-free bliss, an ending befitting a theatrical comedy for sure.

And given that ending, if it seems like I’ve been blathering on about nothing like a radio DJ, if it seems as though I’ve been crying a river (heard that song on the radio on Friday), then consider this.

The car lies at the end of an eight-hour cosmic journey, an Odyssey I must undertake in my Malibu, in which the radio may force me to battle with evil muses, or Muse anyways, and partake in a trip down the River Styx

Oh well, at least I like Styx.

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One thought on “Turn the Radio Off

  1. gd says:

    Hey cowboy, your writin’ is blogolicious.

    Your radio ruminations reminded me of a nite driving btw Dallas and Grand Prairie. Bet you’ve had the same experience. 2am, empty highway, radio squawks, electrical system of my ’67 Chevy pickup goes haywire, truck stops dead. D-E-A-D. Bright light envelopes me and I hear this odd voice thru the radio “Prpr paratu niklu”, and I feel this strange upward pull. Gets blurry after that. Strapped to a stainless steel table, surrounded by multi-armed, big bug-headed creatures, poking & prodding. Danged if I didn’t wake up naked in the middle of a high school football field the next morning. And you think to yoreself, Whooeee, that was sumpin’. We’ve all been there, huh? And if you can’t remember it that’s the surest sign it happened, cause they wipe your memory plumb clean. They’re out there.

    I kinda miss that truck.

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