|The glorious sight of a radio blowing up.|
|Behold the glory of Wa Wa Nee.|
I listen to a lot of Top 40 radio now, too, though this time it isn't by choice. The sound of a CHR (contemporary hits radio) station wafts across the bank of cubicles at my workplace each morning. I don't know where it comes from, but it's unmistakable nevertheless. The songs are distinguishable, but the rest of the audio registers in my mind's ear as unintelligible background slush. The station must be somewhere in Chicago, since I toil in the Loop, about a block away from the structure formerly known as the Sears Tower. From what I can make out of what I hear, the chuckling deejays banter back and forth, take phone calls from listeners, run some sort of daily contest, and play lots and lots of prerecorded sound effects. I don't know what these purpose these interludes serve, but it involves a lot of loud boinging and twanging noises. And in between, of course, there is the music. This being Top 40, they're drawing from a very small pool of songs and playing them over and over, several times a day, for months on end. I have heard "Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift and "Fancy" by Iggy Azalea more times than any human ever should. A few months ago, I grew to hate songs like Pharrell Williams' "Happy" and Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" with a stubborn, iron-clad passion. Some nights, I still wake up with "Roar" by Katy Perry echoing in my head. That song is my Vietnam. Keep in mind, this is at 7:30 in the morning. Nobody wants to hear Pink or Ke$ha at that hour of the day. Not even their own mothers.
Radio, as a medium, has given us lots of great things. For me, it's Bob & Ray, The Stan Freberg Show, and good ol' Dr. Demento. I listen to a lot of podcasts these days. That's not precisely radio, but it's the bastard stepchild of radio at least. The only time I voluntarily listen to regular, over-the-air FM radio these days is when I'm in the car. Then it's just NPR or maybe some classical or jazz station where the disc jockeys talk in those half-whispery, golf-announcer voices. I mentioned Stan Freberg a few sentences back, though. He was -- and maybe still is -- a great believer in radio. In fact, he wrote this wonderful little advertising ditty on behalf of the radio industry. It's sung by Sarah Vaughn and conducted and arranged by Quincy Jones. Give it a whirl, won't you?