Some thoughts on radio

While I was writing my second novel, The Shadow of the Chandelier, I got into classical music. My wife was pregnant, and I was either staying up late or getting up early, writing at a furious pace, trying to finish as much of the second draft as possible before the baby was born. I'd be up late, listening to WDPR out of Dayton. They play an uninterrupted overnight program hosted by Peter Van de Graaff. Every time the music came to a close, Van de Graaff emerged from the silence with this deep baritone to tell you about how the next piece was connected to the last. I'd stop every time, fingers poised above the keyboard, listening -- tracing a line with him through styles, genres, decades, dances, countries and centuries. He helped me see the evolution of the music across geographic and chronological space. It's a great program that takes you on a journey, Van de Graaff curating your experience.

Radio is special in that way. I'm not here to bemoan the fact that most radio is dying a slow, commercial-fueled death, but to celebrate its existence, yet, in this on-demand world. There's something wonderful about letting go of media decisions and letting someone else guide your experience. You don't get that chance very often, but it's available if you know where to look. 

I'm sure part of what drove my taste toward classical was the discovery of The Public Radio, a kickstarter with the goal of creating a simple radio tuned to a single channel -- the channel you listen to the most. In the company's mindset, we listen to one station 94 percent of the time.

We ordered two, one tuned to the classical station and the other to our local NPR station. They're beautiful little devices, mounted on the inside of a mason jar lid, with a telescoping antennae and a single knob. Two AA batteries power it for weeks, and it sounds clear across the spectrum.

The other thing that's dropped into my life is --  a sweet little app/website that's the answer to a question I didn't even know I was asking:  Where would I find French Cafe music from the 1930s? Tap on a country, select a decade and hear records published from that country and era. It's still buggy, but I'm sure they'll work those kinks out. What has achieved is an amazing curated experience for music lovers. Let the app take you where it may, with minimal instruction from the user.

I love these things -- they excite me in this future-world we suddenly live in.

One, a message delivered to your home by the power of the electromagnetic spectrum, the other through the DSL line. Both driven by the elegance of letting someone else curate your experience.