I realize that sticking up for FM radio is like rooting for a favorite sports team that doesn't have any winning seasons in sight. In the midst of losses, you will ignore the negative and get stoked on the few wins they may have. That being said, I reunited with an old friend, FM radio, earlier this summer when I bought my '94 Subaru Legacy, a car equipped with a luxury I haven't enjoyed in a car for years: a working stereo.
People are quick to dismiss FM radio as an obsolete medium in an iPod world. As much as I love my iPod nano, I will still proudly vouch for the radio any day. I don't go as far as sociologist Robert Putnam, who compares listening to an iPod to "bowling alone". However, I believe that there is a subliminal enjoyment in the act of listening to music that thousands of total strangers are listening to at the same time. We don't consciously realize the static rush, but it's there.
I am also self-aware enough to admit that my music collection is not as comprehensive as I would like it to be. It should be noted that this self-awareness, though, is proportional to the size of one's music library (i.e. people with a sparse collection of top-40 singles who claim to listen to "everything"). Because of this, I appreciate the radio for occasionally exposing me to new music.
Granted, radio stations play a lot of the same stuff. But my radio dial is set to 3 stations: X96 for mostly mainstream rock, 90.9 KRCL for a more eclectic playlist of indie, jazz, folk, and reggae, and Orem High's own KOHS, which is actually a happy medium between the first two. Surfing between these 3 stations, I can get as much musical variety as even the most elite iPod playlist.
Using this new modern radio surfing technology, the radio presets, I can also keep the commercial time to a minimum (God forbid we listen to advertising that pays for the free radio we've enjoyed for years!). Besides, am I crazy, or is listening to radio commercials kind of entertaining, like some sort of cultural mass-people-watching? (I guess technically the more accurate term would be population listening) Ok, before you answer that I am in fact crazy, I should also mention that I'm a Communications major.
So me and my best friend, Jeremy, have this unspoken rivalry between FM Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio. Jeremy is from Vernal, Utah, and while he's not a small town redneck in principle, he is surrounded by what I like to call Red White & Blue Millionaires (Redneck, White-Trash, Blue Collar) thriving off of the booming oil town and living it up in their big tricked-out trucks.
Jeremy's truck at his previous job came with Sirius built-in and he has been raving about it ever since. I've pleaded my case to him about how FM radio is better, but we were both set in our ways.
So imagine my joy when, one morning this summer, I heard an exclusive sneak preview of the new Jack's Mannequin single on X96. Granted, I hadn't looked very hard online for it, but this was the first I was hearing the single, and on my very own FM radio!
Jeremy and I have been huge Jack's Mannequin fans ever since I stumbled upon a dozen copies of their debut album, Everything in Transit, which I would later sell for food money during my transient summer of '06. Because of the competitive nature of our friendship, I immediately called Jeremy to taunt/ask him if his precious Sirius was spinning the new Jack's Mannequin track, to which he replied that they were not.
It was a small win for FM radio, but at this point, it should take what it can get.