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Zach Kukkonen/Zach of All Trades

The ups and downs of radio

August 16, 2012
The Daily Mining Gazette

On a recent road trip to Chicago, my wife and I decided to forgo our usual heavy dose of CDs and listen to the radio for once.

With a daunting drive ahead of us, and being a little sick of the music we usually listen to, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Whether it actually was, well, that's up for debate.

While it did make the time pass relatively quickly, we made a few discoveries - good and bad - on the 15-hour round trip.

First, the state of Wisconsin really, really likes country music. As one who prefers other genres, I may have turned off the radio once or twice while in less populated areas.

Second, not to sound like a cranky old man at the ripe age of 27, but a lot of the music played on "today's hit music" stations is just awful. We lost count of how many times we heard "Call Me Maybe," a song by Carly Rae Jepsen, which has the brilliant chorus of "Hey I just met you, and this is crazy, but here's my number, so call me maybe." Not that every generation doesn't have its own lyrical messes - "Ob-La-Di, Ob La Da," "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da" and "Yummy Yummy Yummy" come to mind - but modern music seems to have the market cornered on really bad lyrics.

The other song we lost count on, "Somebody That I Used To Know" by Gotye, uses about six notes for the entire song, and is fairly similar in its simplicity and monotony to one of the biggest awful hits of 2011, "Pumped Up Kicks," although at least this one isn't about committing a school shooting.

Once in a long while, however, I?found a song that I genuinely liked and hadn't heard before, so it wasn't a complete loss.

The final discovery I made on the trip is that no matter how far away from civilization you are, some form of National Public Radio is always within range. In the past, NPR has always bored me, but lately, I've come to appreciate it a bit more. While I only listen to the music it plays when I'm donating blood, the interviews and features are actually quite interesting, despite a reputation of boring content. Whether it is a celebrity/author/musician interview or a different take on the latest news, lately I am hooked. If you're ever looking for a way to kill time in the car, tune to 91.1 FM.

Although it seemed like most of the time on our trip was straight out of R.E.M.'s "Radio Song"?- "It's that same sing song on the radio, it makes me sad" - a couple new songs and a fondness for NPR were acquired, and I?suppose that makes it worth it.

Zach Kukkonen can be reached at



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