We were punching at the radio the other day during either a Brewers rally or a Cardinals rally – which we realize doesn’t really narrow things down much – when we discovered certain strange radio anomalies: 1) our car radio was getting satellite broadcasts, and, 2) we were getting them for free. We found out later that, as a sales promotion, the SiriusXM people were giving free samples for a brief period – pretty sure it’s over now – for everyone who has a satellite equipped radio. Thinking that maybe, just maybe, the Bucs’ team ERA might go back to single digits if we stopped listening to the games, and mildly entranced at the thought of receiving radio transmissions beamed down from space n at, we tuned in. If you choose the “6” channel, they play songs from the sixties; “7” gets you seventies songs and so on. Totally space-age, right? So we picked “8” for eighties and let the satellite take over.
Did you ever notice how every so often, when you’re paying attention, you get an inkling of how messed up the culture is? Take that Springsteen song, “Hungry Heart” from 1980. It is told from the point of view of a guy who, seemingly on a whim, and without warning, deserts his family. The more we thought about it, the more we wondered why we should care about how hungry a guy’s heart is when he doesn’t care how hungry his kids are. So we shouted at the radio, “Hey Bruce, get back to us when you have a song about someone who isn’t a self-absorbed skunk!” And then, realizing that Bruce probably couldn’t hear us even though we were engaged in cutting edge communications technology, and in an effort to keep our cool, we switched to “6” to find something more wholesome from the sixties. What did we get?
We got Johnny Cash singing “Folsom Prison Blues” which is written from the point of view of a convicted murderer who “shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die.” That’s pretty cold blooded stuff right there. It’s hard to imagine a more low-life wretch unless he shot that bum from Baltimore, which wouldn’t be so bad. In fact, if he, the victim, was wearing a Ravens jersey at the time of the shooting, it would probably be just a misdemeanor around here. A good lawyer could probably plea-bargain it down to loitering.
Where were we? Oh yeah, so then we found a rap channel, and those lyrics left us completely horrified. There was one for “Acoustic/Singer-Songwriters” We’re betting that’s going to be like Joan Baez / Janis Ian / Ani DiFranco which, while hip, meaningful and inspirational, might also inspire us to drive into a bridge abutment. Nearby on the dial was: “Pearl Jam 24/7”. We regret to report that we have no idea what that is. “’80s Hair Bands”? Aren’t they called barrettes? “Eminem’s Hip-Hop Channel XL“? You know, lately 2XL seems a lot more comfortable.
We didn’t make much of a dent in the 245 total channels offered by the satellite company. It would take you about two weeks of driving around to try them all out. But as long as narrow-casting has arrived in the radio world, we’d like to propose some Sirius-XM channels for Idler nation. How about a channel dedicated to Amity Street Crossing Waiting-for-the-Train Songs? That’s bound to be popular. Or maybe an intellectual station featuring panel discussions on contentious issues of the day like, “Light Beer Drinkers, Should they Be Thrown Out Or Simply Asked To Leave?” and “The Manhattan vs. The Martini: After Three Pops Does It Make Any Difference?” Of course we’d need a moderator. Joe Biden should be able to free up some time soon.
Wait, how about this: a station where drunk people would call in after a ball game and make all manner of passionate yet uninformed arguments about what plays should have been called and what penalties were completely bogus? That’s been done? Okay, then, we’d better hurry up and check out the rest of these stations before they start charging us.
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