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Athens, Ohio, United States
"Art and love are the same thing. It's the process of seeing yourself in things that are not you."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Radio Somewhere

As I sit here at my kitchen table and watch the snow gently falling onto the already white landscape outside, I can't help but think: it's good to be home.

Don't worry, I am not going to get sappy on the particulars of my home-life, nor am I going to reveal that I have finally run out of things to write about by talking about the weather. Instead I would like to let you in on the one thing I missed most about this home of mine. It isn't the family, it isn't the friends, it isn't the cats, it isn't the town and it certainly isn't the weather. It is the that classic old timey medium: the radio.

I didn't have a car down on campus. Not a big deal for me, I am not really a car nerd, nor do I really care for driving that much. But little did I know that without the car, I would be without the most communal and immediate of all auditory media. And I must say, you don't realize how much you rely on something until its gone. Judging at my reaction upon coming home to a car and its radio, the radio must be the most basic tool of human existence. 

When I turned on my car for the first time in months and heard the staccato sounds of local sports-talkers, I nearly dissolved into ecstatic tears. I have been driving for a little over two and a half years now and I have found that driving opens up all kinds of doors for you. There is the obvious opportunity of being able to go where you want, when you want. But the radio in that car opens up a different, far more subtle door. 

The car-radio is the door of community. I have lived in Northeast Ohio for 8 years and it wasn't until year 6, when I discovered AM talk radio that I actually became a part of Northeast Ohio. As communities get larger and geographic areas are widened, it becomes harder for the idea of a "community" to exist. So how do we stay together in this day and age? Naturally, and because this is a media-centric blog, the answer is the media. 

Now, the newspapers did their part, and so did television. And the internet has democratized communication across the globe. But when it comes to drawing community lines and keeping everyone in the loop and everyone talking about the same subjects, no media can hold a candle to the radio. 

When I got home, I couldn't wait to visit some of my oldest friends. Tony Rizzo, Mark "Munch" Bishop, Greg Brinda, Bob Frantz, Andre Nott, Mike Trivisano. I have spent countless hours listening to these men, commiserating about the state of the Browns and talking about community issues. I don't always agree with all of them and some of them are just outright dicks. But regardless of their vocal performance or political views, they are a part of home. And they are the voices that represent a community.

Take WTAM 1100s Mike Trivisano for instance. Triv is an obese cranky old bastard with a Midwestern accent who is in constant disagreement with all elected officials. Sounds a hell of a lot like Greater Cleveland to me. For better or worse, radio personalities reflect the times and populations that created them. Plus, they are just absurdly entertaining. I don't know if I would ever even drive if I didn't know whether Bob Frantz was going to be there in the morning to complain about Democrats in the state Senate in the morning or whether Munch was going to be there in the afternoon, trying to reassure us that LeBron won't leave town in 2010. These guys are there for the city.

There is a time, however, everyday where the radio is a barren wasteland. 12:00-3:00 in the afternoon; I like to call this Radio Dead Time. That is when the national "personalities" begin to harsh my local buzz. Rush Limbaugh is no more cranky, biased or cantankerous than he other radio show hosts, but he just isn't fun when he can't relate to the viewer on a local level. He is all drag and no fun. He can't follow up a segment about how Nancy Pelosi is a succubus with a funny quip about an experience in a famous Cleveland bar, or a story about local politics in Shaker Heights. And the only other option is Jim Rome: he of the 15 second pauses between sentences, the nauseatingly repetitive soundboards, and the stale decades old in-jokes that are still funny for about only 9 or 10 people. It's enough to make one switch over to the CD changer or (gulp) FM radio.

No, radio is a local medium, my friends and that is the way it always should be. If you don't believe me, try turning off your radio for a week and see how much of an outcast you feel. Or maybe you can just talk to people in your city to glean information and a sense of community like a normal person.

But for me, all I can say is: it's good to be home

1 comment:

Woozie said...

And what if you've never listened to AM radio?