Paul E. Anna: High Points |

Paul E. Anna: High Points

Paul E. Anna
The Aspen Times

As a road-tripping kind of guy, I get great pleasure flipping the dial in my truck, trying to find the best in local radio. Listening to stations like KVNF in Paonia, or solar-powered KATO in Taos, or the KPYG “The Otter” in San Luis Obispo helps to give me a sense of being somewhere. It offers an opportunity to tune in, so to speak, to the local zeitgeist.

So when I made a recent sojourn to Texas via the back roads, I was looking forward to some down-home, crackling tunes, a little pledge-drive action and perhaps some sports talk (“How ’bout them Lobos!”).

But my travel companion, a much more modern guy than I, is a proud subscriber to Sirius Satellite Radio, which bills itself as the “Best Radio on Radio.” Though I was somewhat skeptical, I resigned myself to pristine sound and programmed music that I thought would be about as stimulating and generic as a ride in an elevator. Boy was I wrong. Welcome to the new world.

Two channels of Howard Stern. Uncut. A gay and lesbian station with political yackers lisping about Kobe Bryant’s lack of an apology. BBC, CNN, NPR, Fox News, and the right-wing Patriot Radio and the left-wing Sirius Left. There was Country, Christian, Hip-Hop and Blues. You could tune into Standards, Dance, Pop and Rock stations. Sports was dominated by the ESPN network of stations, as is much of the world, but there were also personality-driven stations like New York sports talker Mad Dog Chris Russo who has his own channel and tons of games and traffic and weather for places like Baltimore and Tampa and Detroit.

Holy decisions, Batman!

The options were nearly limitless. I could listen to girl gabbers talking about boys on the Cosmo Channel. There was the blue-est of blue humor on a station called Raw Dog Comedy that was just a string of too filthy for this column one-liners. And of course there was E-Street radio with nonstop tunes from the Boss and the Grateful Dead channel with nothing but Jerry. It was almost enough to cause hallucinations.

I began to give into this newfangled way of travel about 150 miles into the trip. Instead of twisting those wireless knobs, trying to coax a little more semi-tuned-in wisdom from Kai Ryssdal or a faint, scratchy rendition of a Taylor Swift epic, I was, to borrow a phrase from Howard Stern, the King of all Media.

From channel to channel I went, talking trash with the NASCAR guys, laughing at jokes with Jamie Foxx, crooning tunes from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s and listening to a “Morning Edition” that was so clear it felt like I was in the studio. All this for just $12.95 a month? Brilliant.

I know, I know … I am sucking down the Kool-Aid of homogenized media. I am being manipulated and played by a company that uses databases and computers to create programs and spit out play lists designed to hook certain demographic groups. But what can I say? I’m just another brick in the wall.

That reference comes from a tune they play on Deep Tracks, the station I listened to the most. Deep Tracks plays non-stop obscure cuts from albums that were released in the late ’60s and ’70s. Bands like Traffic and Blind Faith and Deep Purple and even Fairport Convention. My guess is that 82.4 percent of the audience that tunes in to Deep Tracks once turned on but now needs Lipitor as their drug of choice.