Radio. Things that make me smile.
I think it all went back to that small AM Transistor I won in a contest and how that radio opened the world to me late at night when I was suppose to be sleeping. Salt Lake City came rolling in and I got my buzz on. Then there was Seattle and Iowa and Vancouver and sometimes Chicago and St. Louis. Listening to those far away places just really made me happy, in healthy ways.
Then I found an old Shortwave radio in my great grandparents old things and I set that up beside my bed. I will never forget that first night when HCJB came booming into my bedroom, all the way from Quito Ecuador. Then came the BBC and Radio Netherlands and that led me through the next few years of occasional pleasure in an otherwise bleak teenage existence.
When I started to drive dad's old 68 Pontiac Laurentian it only had an AM Radio in it and the late 70's were the time when FM was just starting up. Granted there were only three FM stations in Saskatoon at the time, and they were mostly crap, but still, more radio, more opportunities to hear the world. I had an 8-Track player in it at the time, and one day while down at Canadian Tire I saw an FM Radio Adapter you could insert into the Eight Track slot and have FM Radio in your car. My eyes got big and the cost wasn't that great so after a few weeks I got it and took it home. I unwrapped it carefully and plugged it into the old 8-track player and within a few moments that old simple pleasure of tuning a new station brought a grin to my acne covered face.
The years went by and I never had lots of cash to spend on radio's so I enjoyed the simple pleasures of tuning in distant stations. I'd work on simple inexpensive antennas which would dramatically increase the reception, and the occasional smile.
The Internet came along, and one of my first demands of the Internet was pulling in distant radio stations who would put their feeds up online. Though it wasn't the same buzz as a small radio in my hand pulling in distant stations, it was cool to have clear quality signals coming in over the internet wire, right into my house. I bought a small FM Transmitter, hooked it up to the computer, and retransmitted the stations throughout the house and yard and about a block into the neighbourhood so that I could turn on my handheld radio and listen to the stations a world away, right from the comfort of my back yard. And I would smile.
In the 1990's Satellite radio came along and though at the beginning was too expensive to consider, by June 2006 we were enjoying the variety of distant sounds bouncing off a chunk of metal somewhere up there in space. I remember the smile on my face when we could listen to NPR or the Seventies Channel. Old Time Classic Radio still plays throughout the house here in the field, and this morning I woke up to a thought provoking interview on NPR. Simple joys for a simple mind you might say, I know you're thinking it.
So where is this all going you are saying to yourself. Well I was thinking the other day about all this stuff and history and wondering why a simple pleasure such as radio still has the power to make me smile. I was thinking about it because I was driving down the highway heading to town, and in my hand I held my mobile phone, a small blackberry on which I had downloaded an application to play online radio stations. I was jumping between continents and genres, between local stations and international ones. I listened to the traffic in New York City, and the Cubs getting ready to play in Chicago. Worship music from St. Louis and the weather from Germany. I was grinning ear to ear again and though nobody gets it I'm k with that.
I think what was making me smile even more was the sound coming off of that small tinny phone speaker. It sounded exactly like my first small AM Transistor radio, pulling in the local stations. In terms of radio at least, it felt like we'd come full circle.
And I smiled again.