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Lifestyles Of The Old And Quaint

Vince discovers that listening to the radio is for old people.

The other day I found out I’m old.

I’ve known for some time that I’m not as young as I used to be, but I never thought of myself as old - like baby boomers.

But despite what I think of myself, apparently, I’m old enough that I have no idea how today’s teens discover and keep up with contemporary music. As always, my teen son was more than happy to help me out.

My son likes to listen to music while he does his homework. It’s not something I endorse, but his grades have never suffered because of it, so I have no problem with it.

I do, however, have a problem when his music listening prevents his siblings from using the home office to do their homework.

Hoping to find a solution that works for the entire family, I suggested to my son that he listen to the radio as opposed to sequestering himself in the privacy of the home office so he can listen to profanity-laced songs via the Internet. Of course, he didn’t think that was an acceptable solution.

“I understand listening to the radio means you’ll have to fill in the curse words when the radio bleeps them out,” I joked.

He didn’t laugh. But it turns out he wasn’t bothered by the lack of profanity on radio as much as he was the idea of having to endure a bunch of undesirable songs to listen to the few songs he actually wants to hear.

“When I was a teen and I wanted to hear my favorite songs, I would listen to the radio for hours and hours,” I said.

“Well, it’s a good thing times have improved,” he said.

Obviously, he knew nothing about the technology known as radio, so I decided to explain how it all worked.

 “It’s simple. You turn on the radio and every now and then you will hear a song you like,” I said. 

“No one listens to the radio anymore,” he informed me.

“Try it, you’ll like it,” I said, pitching radio like it was a bowl of Life cereal.

“Well, I could put the songs I like on my iPod, but I don’t have enough money to buy all of them,” he said. “So I’m forced to do it with a playlist.”

I wasn’t sure if this was a plea for a larger allowance or a suggestion that I buy him some music. Either way, I choose to ignore it and went back to trying to sell him on the virtues of radio.

“You could use my boom box and record songs from the radio and then make a mix tape of the songs you like,” I suggested, trying to appear upbeat.

“You want me to use a cassette tape?”

“Yeah,” I said.

“Is that what you used to do in - the 20th Century?” he asked.

I can’t lie, the zinger hurt my feelings. His emphasis on 20th Century made it seem like I grew up in a time when people rode around in covered wagons - listening to their local radio station.

My son has long playlists on Spotify and Playlist.com and will listen to all his favorite songs each night while tackling his 9 or 10 hours of homework.

I tried Playlist.com, making a playlist of the 70s soul classics I’ve been listening to lately. Having a playlist was nice, if, you know, you go for that kind of thing.

I still don’t see what’s wrong with the radio. Is it really so bad to listen to the radio for an hour and only hear 2 or 3 songs that you like?

That’s what we used to be way back in the 20th Century - when we rode around in our covered wagons.

Joan S. Dentler September 17, 2012 at 09:59 PM
Thanks for the great column Vince. I'm not embarrassed to admit that I am still a huge fan of radio----sports, music, news. I much prefer it to recorded music and maybe it brings me back to my teen years, but there's something incredibly satisfying about "turning the the dial" and stumbling upon a favorite song. Growing up in Columbus OH, my favorite station was Q-FM 96, now I like listening to KFOG (except for the new morning crew--ugh) KQED and KNBR.
Rex September 18, 2012 at 02:36 PM
I like radio music, but not the endless commercials. The big corps have ruined radio. Most of my music comes from CDs and I buy a lot of iTunes.

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