Wilfried F. Voss is the author of The Bleeding Hills. For more information see his website at http://wilfriedvoss.com.
I don't know about you, but I frequently I turn off the radio after the news are done. Our local station WHAI calls their program "the best variety in the valley," referring to the Pioneer Valley in Western Massachusetts. The matter of the fact is, they play the same songs EVERY SINGLE DAY. Yes, you do have the right to change the station, but I don't enjoy listening to Country & Western on the radio. I do fancy a live performance, though.
The problem really is, there is no good morning show in the neighborhood, and even when I travel through New England listening to the radio in my car, the mindless blabbering teamed with heavy commercial exposure and little music doesn't do it for me.
It even leads to a point where I dread Christmas. This is the time, starting right after Thanksgiving, where our local station plays Christmas music on the weekends 24 hours a day. Don't get me wrong, I have a four-year-old, and that makes Christmas the best time of the year. However, our radio station numbs that feeling efficiently. I used to love John Lennon's "XMAS - War is over" or any other Christmas favorite, but hearing it multiple times a day for several days just kills it.
I get it, though. Radio stations suffer from economic restraints as any other business in the United States, and they simply cannot afford to provide better quality radio.
But I do have a choice, and it's a good one. I go back into my office, update my blog, and listen to... Pandora! For those who don't know (you'll be surprised how many there are), Pandora (http://www.pandora.com) is basically Internet-based radio, playing only the music you like by allowing you to create your own program. You can give specific songs a thumbs up or thumbs down. Favorites are being played more often, and the thumb downs will disappear. If particular artists or bands receive too many downs (I believe the number is 3) they will be removed entirely.
Here is not only the music I like; I also discover "new" artists that I've never heard of and I LOVE them. When I list "new" names like Evanescence, Missy Higgins, Plumb, Regina Spector (I'm currently listening to "Soviet Kitsch"), and many more great artists, I can imagine people rolling their eyes.
"What rock are you living under?" they might ask. Well, my excuse is valid: Our local radio station plays only standard music they can actually afford, and that includes "Say what you need to say, say what you need to say, say what you need to say..." Yes, it's the extraordinary prose of John Mayer, and that's the maximum level of sophisticated music you get from our local radio station.
I started off on Pandora with my "Moody Blues" station, which may indicate to you that I am into oldies. Nevertheless, Pandora not only suggested artists that, as I explained previously, are new to me, but it also allowed me to block John Mayer permanently. It's well worth the $36 I pay per year, but you can also get it for free. Their commercials are not as invasive as the majority of regular radio stations.
And guess what, come Christmas, I will create my own Christmas radio station on Pandora. Well, now it's time to walk the doggie. Time to put those earphones on and start the Pandora App on my iPhone.
As I said, Pandora Kills The Radio Star... And I Like It!