Wednesday, August 26, 2009

88.1, non-corporate radio

There is such a thrill on hearing a song you like on the radio. It's totally different then playing it yourself. And that is what I like about the radio -- the element of synchronicity. If you hear something good, or something familiar, it feels important, like you are part of something larger than yourself.

That's why I got such a big kick out of listening to the radio as I entered adolescence, but I think we all know the limitations of corporate-run radio with constant advertising and limited music selection. I discovered 88.1 WKNC in high school when we used to (illegally) eat lunch in the parking lot with the radio on, and often heard the most ridiculous songs like one about T-rexes and their T-friends, and that one Streets song that has an alcoholic and pothead arguing about who is tougher.

I discovered other charms of this station, which is actually the college station of NC State University out of Raleigh. (They apparently have an unusually strong radio transmitting power for a college station so I can hear it almost everywhere in Durham, except for [infuriatingly] my childhood bedroom where it is a little fuzzy.) Late at night, driving in the car in summer, the station plays strange ambient techno that made midnight excursions around deserted downtown Durham extra weird.

Another charming thing are the PSAs that replace ads. You can hear a rap about not drinking and driving, an invitation to host international students in your home, and energy saving tips. You can look up their playlists, archived by time, on their website and so most people I know have these scraps of paper in the car with all these different times scralled in while-driving handwriting to look up when they get home.

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