Gently Download the Stream

July 28th, 2004  |  Published in Uncategorized

While stationed in Korea, I became a total shortwave junkie: I’ve still got my DX logs laying around somewhere. The shortwave was essential after a while: My listening choices were either the local stations, which were fine to the extent one can tolerate synth-pop without being able to understand the cheap sentimentality bundled up in the lyrics (I need the cheap sentimentality… beat alone doesn’t do it) or the armed forces radio broadcasts.

Aside: the recent flap over Rush Limbaugh’s presence on AFRTS reminded me of another reason that radio station was unlistenable: Like the rest of the army, everything has to be timesliced. It leads to a Friday night at the post enlisted club where the rednecks stand around in their giant belt buckles and boots waiting for the clock to change to 11 so the R&B DJ has to pack up and they can get a country DJ for an hour before the metalheads take over at midnight. That’s not “diversity” any more than tossing marbles in a pan full of melted Velveeta is a “blend.” It’s just making sure the kids don’t fight over the toys.

Anyhow, shortwave rocked. Especially when I caught the North Korean English broadcasts, because they were really funny. My favorite one was the night they told us Japan would join them in a left hook from the south that would crush us between two mighty peoples’ armies united in Pan-Asian solidarity. Memorable quote from my drunk team chief: “Shit. That’d be fucked up.”

For whatever reason, reception was pretty good there, as it was when I first picked up the habit in Indiana. It’s not so good here, but I’ve been pining for radio again. The big diff since my time in Korea is that we’ve got a lot of ‘net-based radio shows and netcasts that are there for the plucking. I grabbed a copy of AudioHijack and pointed it at a few obvious picks for shows I’m never in front of the radio/computer to listen to (like This American Life and Counterspin). But as I was reminded by a visit to PublicRadioFan.com, there’s a lot more out there than Ira and Terry.

Anyone got any recommendations for good public radio listens?

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