We are a bit addicted to radio in our house. We have at least one in every room - a clock radio in each bedroom, a tranny in the bathroom and a spare one by our bed, one in the kitchen, another (fake 1930s wireless) in the library, and there's the radio which is part of the sound-bar DVD player thingy under the TV in the living room. I feel slightly disoriented when I go into friends' houses and can't see a radio anywhere. It's a little like a house with no books - something vital is missing.
My very first radio station was EON-FM, when FM radio was shiny and new, and I was discovering pop music. Eventually I switched to Triple J, and I stayed tuned to the Js for many years. It was our station of choice at the record company where I worked. But then my love for cricket began to outweigh my love for music (never very robust, sadly). My boss and I used to surreptitiously switch over to the ABC to listen to the Test coverage, and then I'd leave it there and listen to Jon Faine and the grown-up current affairs discussions. I remember being glued to the coverage of the waterfront dispute as it unfolded, rushing into my boss's office - can you believe they're doing this? The move from JJJ to 774 felt like growing up.
When I was at home with babies, the radio was my connection to the outside world. At the dead of night, at dawn, in the cheerful mid-morning, for afternoon lulls and evening tears, there was always someone (adult) talking to me, telling me stuff, one end of a conversation that I felt part of. When the Twin Towers came crashing down, when the Beaconsfield miners were trapped underground, when the bushfires raged, it was radio that told me what was happening, both frightening and reassuring at the same time.
At last I grew weary of 774; it seemed like lots of politics, a bit of gardening, and too much unfunny anecdotage. I grew up a little bit more and discovered Radio National. This time the conversation was more wide-ranging. I listened to discussions of history, philosophy, design, literature, and science. I was in left liberal heaven!
But lately football has sunk its evil claws into me and I've got a bit addicted to the guilty pleasures of SEN, which is ALL football, ALL the time. This has felt like a retrograde step, a slide from sophistication back to lazy, blinkered adolescence.
But I've realised there's more to it than a simple addiction to footy. The truth is, I can't bear to listen to grown up radio any more. I'm so disgusted by the limpness of our political 'leaders,' so overwhelmed by the enormity of the calamities that face us, so infuriated by the name-calling, the vote-grubbing, the shallowness, the pointless abuse, the short-sightedness of the so-called grown up world, that I cannot bring myself to listen any more. That's the trouble with radio - when it's on, it's unavoidable. You can't look away, the way you can turn a page of the newspaper or click on a fresh screen.
I haven't switched it off. I still like to hear people chatting. But I have turned the dial. For now, I've politely asked the commentators and the economic experts and the 'serious' journalists to leave, and I've invited in some ordinary blokes who like talking about balls. And you know what? It's kind of relaxing to have them around.
So who are you listening to?