When I was quite young my dad presented us with a present. I am not sure if it was a birthday gift, a Christmas present or what the occasion was. But I remember the excitement of getting a crystal radio set. This was one of those “make-it-yourself” gadgets. All the parts were included and it was a matter of just following the instructions. It was rather simple. There was a tube (similar to the tube in a toilet paper roll), some thin copper wire, a crystal (not exactly sure what this was, but it sort of looked to me at the time like a diamond), various screws and connectors, and some kind of needle. I remember we wound the wire around the tube and connected the various other parts together. Then when the needle was placed onto the crystal, you could received an AM radio broadcast from a nearby station. It was like magic to my young mind.
My father was always fascinated by new technical things like that. We had a state-of-the-art phonograph with numerous records. Big band sounds were his favourite. We were the first house on our street to buy a TV set. I can still remember this big black and white TV with doors on the front.
At some point, I either bought or was given a Zenith Transistor Radio. I used to go to bed at night with this transistor radio beside or under my pillow. I would slowly turn the dial and listen to one station after another and I kept a list of the radio stations that I managed to receive. I remember listening to WLS in Chicago with DJ Dick Biondi. And there was CKLW with DJ Tom Shannon. There was a station out of Nashville, Cleveland and many others.
These things came to mind last night. As I now lay in bed with my iPhone beside my pillow and ear buds delivering silent sounds into my mind. Now I subscribe to various podcasts. They download onto the iPhone and I listen to them at my leisure, mostly at night. I have my favourites: IDEAS hosted by Paul Kennedy and broadcast by the CBC. THIS AMERICAN LIFE hosted by Ira Glass of WBEZ of Chicago Public Radio and THE MOTH RADIO HOUR produced by Catherine Burns and Jay Allison of Atlantic Public Media.
Not all that much has changed.
One of my favourite Joe Ely songs.