I’ve always felt that my morning commute is better for having the radio on. CDs are nice, but rush hour just means radio to me. However, the radio in this town is utter, utter crap.
First, there is virtually no choice. My car radio gets three stations in English (Radio 2, Radio 4 and D. FM I think they’re called), each worse than the next. Most of the music is either trashy pop or bubblegum stuff from the 70s and 80s, much of which never got popular enough to make it across the Pond, and so is alien to me. Second, there is no talk radio at all. There is the occasional ‘interview’ show, but it’s either some amateur pop psycher giving fatuous advice, or a thinly disguised hour-long advert for some real estate scheme. Third, even the “favorite” station here (and therefore I suppose the ‘best’) is appallingly bad. I suffered though Thi Bidda Meex for my first few years here and put up with the silly morning shows and insipid music on my way to work. They’ve got a woman there who has the Ugliest Voice on Radio, and I even put up with her for a while, except that the late morning talk show she hosts/ed got so inane that I couldn’t deal with the awful topics on top of listening to her talk, so I turned her off (Please god she’s only spinning discs now and not interviewing any more – I even can’t bear to turn it on to find out.) Except for the hour of jazz between 9 & 10 pm that I run into every now and then (the DJ is pleasant if a bit vapid, but she has decent taste in music and knows when to shut up), these people wouldn’t get airtime on Community Free Radio back home.
I felt my commute was captive to Thi Bidda Meex until I discovered iPod and podcasts earlier this year. Now I’ve got WGBH, KQED, BBC, Radio Wales, NPR, Jim Lehrer, Washington Week, and all kinds of great things to listen to, provided I keep my iPod charged up. Which it wasn’t this afternoon. So sitting in Sharjah traffic, I decided to give Thi Bidda Meex one last go. I tuned in and caught the Beach Boys singing “Kokomo”, a catchy, 80s tune I hadn’t heard in a while. Promising. I sang along (as you do) until, three refrains before the song was over, the idiot DJ starts in yapping about something or other. He didn’t even bother to fade out the end of the song. How or why he thought what he had to say was more interesting than the Beach Boys listing Carribean islands is beyond me.
I switched it off. I should have known better. The iPod is charging up as we speak.