Late Night Radio Revisited
My great aunt Alice had a ham radio, and I remember loving when she would go on and find people from other countries and places talking. I knew nothing about numbers stations at that time, but I remember hearing little jingles and songs that were undoubtedly spy transmissions, if not just people having fun with others. I was too young to really understand the process, but it made me so curious hearing those distant communications. I would have loved CB radio at that time, but I did not experience that until sometime in high school in my friend Bobby's garage.
When I flipped the dial at night, I always found strange transmissions from other places, particularly Native American Chanting on Wisconsin Public Radio, distant basketball and hockey games, and talk radio from other states. The AM dial was perfect for finding these long distance broadcasts. I would hear strange music that my parents would never listen to. I listened to Coast to Coast AM but only if they were discussing cryptids or UFOs, never politics.
Years later as a delivery driver, I returned to my late night radio jones. I would listen to Cleveland radio on the AM dial, including basketball and talk. One particular broadcast discussed the New Years Eve violence where people shoot guns into the air. I also listened to many BBC news broadcasts that included the world news you do not hear in the day. Ambient music on Hearts of Space and live shows on World Cafe Live made my deliveries more interesting. Later, while driving, I became a podcast and audiobook junky, which I chalk up to my continual fascination with people talking about various topics.
I am still fascinated with Late Night Radio, pouring from speakers of all devices. I love discovering new music and new places when I flip the dial or push the button. Now I can find some of these shows to listen to in the day time, but it is not as much fun. Like listening to or making mix CDs instead of mixtapes, I miss reading between the lines. I miss the interstitial material that teaches one so much. I miss the human touch that curates our lives. Sure, it is nice having things at one's fingertips, but now with the Internet I can look up schedules and plan my listening. There was something magical about stumbling onto something new, something cool, and something life changing.