Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Confessions of a Former News Junkie

I listened to the news today on the radio.

Now, a couple of years ago, this would have been about as remarkable as saying, "I remained tethered to the planet by gravity this afternoon." At the time three of the six pre-set buttons on my old car radio were tuned to various NPR stations, fully half of the bookmarks on my browser were set to news feeds of one sort or another, and CNN was one of the four things I watched on television (the others being sports, weather, and an astonishing number of things that involved talking animals - and what all four of these things have in common is that you can watch them in 10-second increments, which is about all you get when you have two small children careening around the house).

Then one day I was driving home from work, turning left from one small state highway onto another one, and some flack for the current rogue regime in Washington was spinning one of the stories of the day this way and that - I think he was saying something negative about North Korea, one of the few unequivocally FUBAR'd countries on earth - and it suddenly hit me: I don't believe anything this man is saying. I simply do not believe what my government is telling me anymore, even when the subject is one that they have no rational need to lie about. For a lot of people, this ranks in the "tethered by gravity" category, but for me it was beyond disheartening. And I turned off the radio, and stopped listening to the news.

Oh I read the news - skimming through various newspapers in their on-line avatars, mostly - but I stopped listening to it, or watching it, or even, for a while, trying to follow it at all.

Listening to the radio in the car became a challenge. I was never cool even when I was young enough to care, so most music stations were out - and oldies stations just bother me in principle. That left country music (the awful result of inbreeding, moonshine and right-wing politics), religious extremist radio (for surely God loves nuclear weapons and hates people who are Not Like Us), or political extremist radio (see previous). Or, the very bottom of the intellectual pile - sports talk radio. And there I sat, for years, listening to the various Sports Knobs prattle on about football, baseball and basketball (never hockey, occasionally golf). Mike and Mike were my heroes. Colin Cowherd the voice I loved to belittle. And Jim Rome - the knob's knob. There was even the occasional NASCAR Minute.

As a side note - if you were going to create a radio network devoted to automobile racing, and you were rash enough to name it the Motor Racing Network, wouldn't you make it some sort of company policy that announcers were NEVER to abbreviate it? The first time I heard some good-old-boy wrap up his stock car report with the quickly-slurred phrase "this is MRN Radio," I almost ran off the road from laughing so hard.

But eventually the old ways come out, and NPR blared forth again in my car. Just in time for election season.

My timing stinks, as usual.

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