Living in Society

Radio Still On

Compost Bin with Solar/Spring Powered Radio

My earliest memories of radio are of neighbors across the alley listening to Chicago baseball games. They turned the volume loud enough we could hear the sports announcer yet not make out what they were saying. It created a summer neighborhood ambience in the pre-JFK years.

Today a radio is on when I’m working in the kitchen, garage or garden. I also turn it on in the car. My listening habits are steady: country music in the garden, car and garage, and classical in the kitchen. I no longer like listening to news broadcasts on the radio.

Transistor radios were popular when I was a preteen. We could listen to the AM radio and hear the latest music without parental supervision. I tuned in to KSTT radio in Davenport and remember the songs from 1963 until I went to high school. It felt cool to be able to directly link to the broadcasts. I tried to get a copy of the printed weekly Top 40 list and follow along with the songs.

Radio was important when I lived in Germany. For the most part, I had no television and listened to the Armed Forces Network in my truck or at home. They played a lot of old radio serials, which I enjoyed. News had a Europe-centered slant. I have living memory of a radio announcer reporting from the Vatican during the conclave of the College of Cardinals to elect a new pope. We waited dramatically for the color of the smoke from the Sistine Chapel to be identified and announced.

A Prairie Home Companion first aired on July 6, 1974. I didn’t know about it until after my return from Germany in 1979. After we married, it became a staple on Saturday afternoons. When Garrison Keillor left the show (for the second time), nothing good replaced it and my Saturdays were never the same.

My crank powered radio with a solar panel on it gave up the ghost. The crank spring wore out and the dials wouldn’t turn any more. I bought a new one that can also charge a mobile device. I don’t crank it much, using the solar receptors for my garden radio experience. If there was a night-time power outage, we could keep our mobile devices charged.

When I retired, I moved my clock-radio-alarm from the bedroom to on top of the refrigerator. The device has a 9-volt battery, which when there is a power outage, enables it to keep time. I figured I didn’t need an alarm after retirement. It turns out that figuring was accurate.

When the radio plays a song I recognize it does something to me. I listen and follow along with the lyrics if I know them. It is getting so I do know the lyrics of a lot of songs. I suppose the radio is training me to get addicted to listening. Thing is, I’m usually too busy working on something that requires my attention. Even if I focus on the task at hand, the radio plays in the background. After all these years, I guess I like it that way.