Traffic on my way home from work was rather hellish today. Not only was it slow moving, but it was cold — single digits. The coldest day we’ve had in the area for the past few years. And I needed something to keep my mind off the freezing temperature and heavy traffic.
So I turned on the radio — the all-news station I usually listen to on my way in. Which conveniently plays — you guessed it — traffic and weather on the 8s! So — not only did I get to sit incrawling traffic freezing my ass off, but I got to hear about the traffic I was sitting in and how my ass was only going to get more freezing by the minute! Probably not the best plan.
And besides — our DC area station has been playing the same story over and over and over again since November 5: it’s all about next Tuesday’s inauguration. The tagline for the past couple of months has been “your inauguration station.” Clever. I just needed a break from all of this. I needed a spiritual awakening. An adrenaline boost. I needed — to sing!
So I surfed through all of the FM stations for something singable. Or even recognizable. Nothing. Just songs I didn’t know and ads. And talk. I will say, however, that 98 Rock in Baltimore has a cool gimmick — tonight, apparently, is “Pay for Play,” which allows you to donate money which ultimately goes to the Special Olympics of Maryland. The pricing scale: $10 for a song in current rotation; $75 for a song in format but not in rotation; $100 for a song out of format (yes, apparently they will play Kenny G. if necessary);$300 for a song by a local band; $500 for a song by a local band and an interview; and $1000 to hear Stairway to Heaven and Freebird back-to-back. Nice premise…
But honestly, I wasn’t in the mood to hear Pantera or whatever the hell they were playing at the time. And there really aren’t very many quality radio stations in the area. My car doesn’t have a CD changer or a CD player at all. Just a mediocre tape deck.
But I did have a cassette adapter. and my iPhone. My iPhone has the AOL Radio application installed. So I decided to plug everything in — and drive down the Dulles Toll Road listening to the live feed of New York City’s all-news 1010 WINS-AM.
I’ve always loved the all-news station in New York — because there’s just so much news to squeeze into their cycle. You don’t need to fill it up with national news; everything happens in New York! And traffic? It’s inevitable that New York will have heavy traffic during rush hour, so they don’t even bother to talk about the regular congestion points. No — they’ll only mention it on the air if it’s newsworthy. A tanker truck carrying a load of KY His-and-Hers jacknifed on the BQE? That might get coverage. It also makes me feel better to creep along on my journey knowing that I’m in at least better shape than those who have to wait 45 minutes to even get into the Lincoln Tunnel.
But you know what? Their news story for the day was the emergency water landing in the Hudson River yesterday. It’s an important story, but after 22 minutes of continuous coverage, I realized that New Yorkers were probably feeling the same level of oversaturation that I was feeling about the inauguration festivities.
I then switched to an AOL station — the “Best of 1988” station. What a great match for me! When I turned it on, they were playing “The Valley Road” by Bruce Hornsby and the Range. How cool is that? I imagined that I would have great music to pass the time. 1988 was when INXS was in their peak! It’s the year of The Escape Club’s “Wild Wild West.” And if I wanted to sing along? I imagined belting out something d’Awesome by Terence Trent d’Arby.
The next song wasn’t quite what I expected. “Got My Mind Set On You” by George Harrison. Okay — still not too bad. I waited it out because, as Howard Jones said a few years before 1988, “Things Can Only Get Better.”
As George Harrison’s song faded out, the next one began. “I Still Believe” by Brenda K. Starr. Thumbs down. Let’s at least wait for the next one.
“Anything for You” by Gloria Estefan.
“Get Out of My Dreams, Get Into My Car” by Billy Ocean.
“So Emotional” by Whitney Houston.
Wow — did the music of 1988 really suck this much?
It’s wonderful to have an iPhone — and access to hundreds of stations at your fingertips. If anything, it made me appreciate the all-news station all over again.
Even the traffic and weather on the 8s.