I have always enjoyed listening to the radio. In fact, after an unfortunate Middle School experience with a harmonica, it is the only musical instrument I can play.
As a child I remember my mother playing a radio in the kitchen on school day mornings. It was usually WOAI out of San Antonio, TX which was mostly news but sometimes she played music. I can distinctly remember the songs “I was looking back to see if you were looking back to see” and “Que Sera Sera” because she would sing along.
When I was a preteen, I discovered KTSA which played “Top 40” music. I still remember it was 550 on the AM dial. You could call in requests via a TOLL-FREE phone number IF you were willing to dial eleven digits on a rotary phone and then, IF the call was answered, and IF you were willing to stay on hold for 15-50 minutes. People will say that Country music also existed at this time, but I’m not sure anyone in my family was aware of this. I was also probably in college before I realized there were FM stations available on the radio dial.
Today, Jenni and I do not even keep a radio in our house. We gave away the turntable and CD player/stereo/radio combos years ago. We still enjoy music, but we find our favorites through our television with either SiriusXM, IHeartRadio, or Pandora. I still prefer the oldies (which really means the 60s-70s and maybe early 80s); Jenni sides with Marie Osmond and is a “little bit Country”.
Our vehicles do not have anything fancy in regards to music. Both use the factory-supplied equipment. In the car, we have six preset stations—two each of Country, Christian, and Oldies. In Wanda (the van), we never bothered to preset any of the radio buttons until this past year; we usually just hit the Seek button since we travel so much.
When we go on long trips, it is an unwritten rule that the driver gets final say on the genre of music. On our last trip, as we drove through Tennessee, the mountains caused stations to quickly fade in and out. Nothing will lose a station’s listening status like a staticky signal! Cruising I-75 we learned that if we hit Seek or Search we would end up with a Country station 99.999% of the time. So Tennessee belonged to Jenni. When we drove to Voyageurs National Park near International Falls, MN ‘mashing’ the Seek button produced TWO stations in the entire range of the FM dial—Religious Talk and News. That lasted almost an hour!
Consequently, sometimes I will drive for hours with the radio off. Or as I get near my destination, I most certainly turn the radio volume down so I can see better. I learned this from my father, but I don’t think I’m the only one who does it.
But when we crossed into Canada for the first time in our lives (yay!) we were surprised by a highway sign the Canadian government had erected that declared “Canada Radio Stations” and listed three different stations. We wondered if that was all they had. But we appreciated the suggestions, turned on the radio, and tuned to the only station number we could remember having seen at 90 km/hour. (I was so consumed converting miles per hour to kilometers that I didn’t have any more room for processing numbers!). The station was “Adult Hits” and for the next half hour provided a backdrop to our scenic drive to Kakabeka Falls. We didn’t know any of the songs but they were pleasant to our ears so we left the station alone. In fact, we enjoyed the category “Adult Hits” so much that we sought it out more throughout the remainder of our trip. We learned there can be a wide range of music in that category.
On our return home, we were listening to a station as we drove through Kentucky. The man giving the weather sounded like they had just pulled him from Butcher Holler but when the two DJs started talking we couldn’t understand a word they were saying. I think we would have been better off with a French-Canadian station at that point!