Sunday, March 13, 2011

What's Wrong with American Radio

I tweeted this on Friday while on the way back home from Atlanta and the SEC Tournament. When news broke regarding the earthquake and tsunami, I'm driving around Atlanta before heading out. No one was breaking format -- not the "news-talk" stations, not the other AM news stations, not even NPR -- to provide continuous coverage.

Want to know where we did find it? A Spanish language AM station, and fortunately for me, my graduate assistant Zack Swartz is pretty fluent (I'm catching every fourth or fifth word, he's translating).

That's unacceptable. Terrestrial radio has to realize it has a role on days like that. My most significant disgust was with NPR. Look, I'm a member and a contributor, but I'm stunned that the regular shows just kept clipping along. No Diane Rehm, I'm not really that concerned today about Islamic phobia on Capitol Hill. Later in the day, I'm getting dose after dose of naval gazing over the departure of NPR's CEO. Really, can't that all wait until Monday?

Where did we keep up? Once again, thank god for the BBC. Who did break programing -- all day and we got to hear 10 hours of it driving back from Atlanta -- and it was the iPad then iPhone app that we listened.

Here's another source we used -- NHK streams live video to the internet. It would only work on my iPhone, but we kept that running as well. While driving through the hills of north Alabama and north Mississippi (and checking Mississippi PR to see if things had changed). Not until All Things Considered did we get info, and again, that was mixed with more Wisconsin protests, Islamic hearings and Libyan civil war. The photo here shows my iPhone 4 with NHK and the iPad hooked to the aux jack on my Mini's stereo to listen to the news from BBC. Zack snapped it with his Blackberry as we are rolling across rural Mississippi.

Back in the day, I carried a shortwave radio with me at all times. Why? Well you never knew when a war might break out -- just like the first Gulf War did with our women's hoops team on the road (and staying at the end of the runaway of old Carswell AFB -- THAT'S why airplanes were taking off all night starting at 3 a.m.).

Or in this case, a dramatic earthquake.

Of course, my old shortwave sits on a shelf as country after country has shut down its news and culture based transmitters. Replacing them with -- yes -- apps for smart phones.

Said it once, say it again -- your smart phone is the transistor radio of the future. And contrary to "experts" it will be your portable TV -- just like NHK.

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