Radio Days

Saturday, I ran a bunch of errands. I’d like to take credit for the efficiency at which I executed them, but I almost seemed to be on autopilot. As I drove west, I seemed to be programmed to turn into a driveway every ¼ mile or so.

I put gas in my car. I bought a new bath rug at Bed, Bath & Beyond (and even remembered to take one of their coupons with me). I stopped at Pet Supplies and bought a multi-week supply of kibbles for India. I stopped at Harvestime and stocked up on produce and other essentials.

I almost get tired now thinking about my route.

And in between all my stops, I flicked the car radio on. I confess that turning the radio on as soon as I get behind the wheel is almost as automatic as buckling up.

I listened to a few favorite shows on NPR.

Between the Mobil on Crawford and the strip mall where I bought discount salon shampoo and checked out bathroom rugs, I caught the end of Moth Radio, a re-broadcast of live storytelling events that are held in cities across the country.

A featured story was delivered by a thirty-something, recounting how, as a young landlord, he discovered a renter that he decided he had to let go taking the refrigerator with him. Very funny and very real.

Before I hit the grocery store I listened to Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. Recorded here in Chicago most Saturday mornings, host Peter Sagal tests minor celebrities on some arcane bit of cultural trivia. This past Saturday, his guests, who recently released the hip-hop album, Run the Jewels, were asked questions about rabbis. (A twisted play on Running the Jews…)


I caught some music from a bygone era on XRT’s Saturday Morning Flashback, where all selections come from a particular year, and I found myself totally entranced by a Ted Talks show, which focused on our culture’s relationship with screens and how they’re changing our lives.

I remember leaving the car’s engine on, sitting in my car and listening to the segment for several minutes after I arrived at my destination.

I might be very old school, but I really like listening to THE RADIO.

I like the intimacy of it. No matter what goes into production, I focus on the human voice. I feel like I’ve come to know DJs on favorite stations. They feel like friends.

I like the live nature of it. I know that each song or interview is planned, but it feels like it is coming to me fresh.

Just like I prefer perusing a printed newspaper instead of pre-selecting online stories, I like listening to radio the same way. I welcome the possibility of being introduced to something I might find especially compelling that I didn’t know to look for.

I like the randomness of music that might flow to me instead of compiling a playlist. Perhaps a memory will be more vivid to me at some point in the future because I’ll associate an event or experience with the unexpected tune I noticed playing on the radio at the time.

In a world of controlled and documented events, I like to be SURPRISED.

Spending a day with the ever-new and oh so familiar companionship of the radio is no small thing.



  1. Anonymous says:

    Every time I drive down to Chicago, I turn on WXRT. Even though it has been 22(!) years since I left Chicago, hearing that radio station brings me right back. Laura Lee

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