Clock Radios For Troubled Times

“I’m so mad that I would write the Mayor a letter, if I could only write, if he could only read.” – Al Capp

We have one of those new clock radios that does almost everything.

It’s light, portable enough for travel, and it plays AM, FM and CD. For those who can figure out how to program it, it also offers built-in sound tracks for waterfalls, rain showers and a variety of natural sounds to sooth. The sound quality is good, and it’s reliable. It has a battery backup, which saves an hour of figuring out how to reset everything if the power goes out.

The function buttons are small and hard to read. Some of the programming function key sequences are diabolical. I keep the instructions in the nightstand drawer, folded upon to the page on “how to set the time”.

As you might have guessed, I leave this wonderful device tuned to one station, and I leave it on all week long. Once armed, it turns itself off after half an hour, primed and set for the next day.

Oh yes, it has an actual “alarm”, too, but I find I can filter out a simple repetitive tone, and oversleep. Ditto for classical music; just the right soft passage will send me off back to sleep. Just the wrong crescendo will wake me with an angry jolt. I once tried a bagpipes CD, but we won’t even discuss that.

I keep it tuned to one all-news station, and I never, ever mess with any control that will change the settings.

On weekdays, I’ve found that waking to the traffic report and international news is an acceptable way of gradually re-establishing links to the workaday world and current events. On weekends, it is fun to turn the sound off, and cheat the schedule for an extra two hours’ sleep.

This morning, my Saturday morning, the clock radio came on, and I reached for its “power” button (one that I can locate by touch). But, they were rebroadcasting a recent speech by Tony Blair, Britain’s Prime Minister, and it was so compelling I had to sit up and hang on every word.

No matter who we voted for, even Al Gore has gotten over the November election. Most of us at least guardedly support President Bush’s deliberative, even-handed approach to building world support for the military, political, economic and social strategies that we will surely find necessary to effectively dismantle the terrorist war apparatus.

But, bless him, President Bush is not, at best, an inspirational national figure, nor is he a particularly gifted speaker. American administrations have perfected the art of the sound bite, dispensing metered snippets of disconnected facts and opinions.

The use of trendy “keywords”, to denote a position, situation or policy without actually identifying or amplifying upon it, is surely good for the economy – it supports a vast layer of media pundits, employed in the business of second-guessing national policy, reporting upon it, and interpreting both statement and meaning for a news-hungry American public.Only in America can we have a one-hour presidential address, followed by two hours and twenty-seven TV channels of experts from all over the world, brought in to tell us what they think the president said.

Even if Britain remained aloof from the alliance, which it has not, we would still be eternally indebted to it for speakers like Tony Blair, who directly and eloquently drill down to the essence of a situation and tell us what ought to be done about it and why.

By 5:03 this morning I knew I had to have a radio capable of receiving BBC. When Radio Shack opens this morning, I’m pretty sure I will not have been the first one to ask, “show me a short-wave radio that receives BBC.”

As for my clock radio, that one was a Christmas gift, and must be allowed at least a semblance of a normal radio life cycle. Migawd, I certainly whineHTTP/1.1 304 Not Modified Date: Mon, 07 Jan 2008 00:42:25 GMT Server: Apache/1.3.27 (Unix) (Red-Hat/Linux) PHP/5.2.1 Connection: Keep-Alive Keep-Alive: timeout=15, max=99 ETag: “fd003b-a06-46febaff” adjustable; I don’t recall where it’s written that all clock radios have to double as night lights.

My next clock radio may not tell you the temperature and humidity, but, it will tell you the time in numerals you can read in the dark, and it will play radio stations with controls that you can operate in the dark or while half-asleep. Everything will be readable, with big, high-contrast lettering, and a time display with letters

THIS

high.

Alex Forbes
copyright ©October 6, 2001

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