Friday, July 13, 2012

Roaming the dial

Book: Radio On: A Listener's Diary

Author: Sarah Vowell

Published: 1996 (St. Martin's Griffin)

Pages: 228

This is exactly like reading a smart person's real diary, in that it's repetitive, sporadically brilliant, half-assedly organized, deeply personal, well-written with highly crafted opinions, and, an ultimately aimless record of what was going on inside the writer's head for a fixed period of time.

Things I Know for Sure About Sarah Vowell's Relationship to Radio After Reading This Book:

  1. She hates Rush Limbaugh because he says awful things and has way too many listeners who worship him for it.
  2. She hates NPR because it's boring.
  3. She loves Nirvana, Hole, and Hank Williams.
  4. She has a good grasp on why she likes this music.
Things I Suspect But Never Confirmed Because They Lurked In the Details But I Tried to Pay Attention Because They Seemed Important for Context Of Which There Was Precious Little
  1. She lives in Chicago.
  2. She teaches art. In a museum? Or used to work in a museum?
  3. She worked in college radio and gained swank connections through that because she's able to talk to radio people and go right into their studios without any explanations (to the reader at least).
  4. She visited these radio people to get more perspective for her book and to sub for shows--still at the college station?--but not to actually, like, ask them anything about their jobs and how that relates to what she's writing.
Things I Wanted to Know But She Never Tells Me
  1. How did she come up with the idea for this book?
  2. What was her recording methodology?
  3. Why did she sometimes write about music magazines or tapes she listened to without tying them back to their/her relationship with radio?
  4. What would she think about the satellite and Internet streaming radio and podcasts that have exploded since she published this?
  5. Wait--so, she's traveling again now? 
  6. Why did she do this? Seriously, I'd love to know because I get the feeling the reason would be fascinating in an idealized early-twenties social adventure kind of way. I love reading about those; I need road trip ideas! And I also need context to figure out what she's trying to say. I bet it's really cool but I just don't know because she's not telling. 

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