I used to pride myself on my taste in radio stations. I listened to everything across the dial, from classical to pop to hip-hop to indy to rock. I checked out the upbeat Hispanic stations, the quirky KPFA, and even found an old '50s station via satellite. About the only type of music I don't listen to is jazz because I can't sing or dance to it.
I got my love of radio from my parents. My mom was once a Big Band singer, so she listened to stations that played Glenn Miller, Doris Day and the Andrews Sisters. There aren't many stations that still play music from the '40s, but I recently discovered KCEA, a local Big Band station, and now I can stream the likes of Kay Kyser, Billie Holiday and Perry Como in memory of her.
My dad, on the other hand, had a bit of a tin ear and was more of a news junkie. He used to listen to nonstop news, like KCBS, back when Dave McElhatton was on the air, and NPR. I always thought NPR was for old people, but thanks to my dad, I'm finding myself tuning in more and more lately, and listening to Miley and Bruno less and less.
The first show I stumbled onto while driving in the car features a coupla' guys from Brooklyn (or is it the Bronx?) talking about "dere cawrs" on "Car Talk." These two guys make things like carburetors and pistons actually entertaining, as they solve pressing car problems like "that pinging sound."
Then I found a show called "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me," hosted by Peter Sagal and Carl Kasell. Who knew NPR had such a sense of humor? Each weekend three rotating comedians like Paula Poundstone, Tom Bodett and Mo Rocca, answer questions about current events, politics and world issues. Their lightning-quick quips are so funny, I usually I miss my turnoff because I'm laughing so much.
Now I'm hooked. I listen to "Fresh Air" with Terry Gross (I still can't help thinking about the Saturday Night Live spoofs of the show) and get to hear entertaining interviews with the famous writers like J.K. Rowling, fascinating actors like Bryan Cranston and experts in the field of everything from saving prairie chickens to touring bat caves. These programs are way more interesting than twerking pop stars singing about heavy machinery and rap stars chanting about their "cheddar."
With so many cool programs on NPR -- "This American Life" (slices of life), "Says You" (a word game show), "Ask Me Another" (a trivia quiz) and "Mr. Science" (when you want to know more about the mating habits of the dung beetle), I may give up listening to music altogether. I realize the station is still old-people radio -- the average age is 50 -- but maybe I'm finally maturing, even a few years late. Besides, the little jingles between programs are enough music for me. I'm a button pusher and haven't listened to a full song in years.
Except if that song "Happy" by Pharrell Williams comes on. Then I'm turning it up full-blast.
Contact Penny Warner at www.pennywarner.com.