Here's the Scoop: April 9, 2008

Mellow tuning
I’m not sure when this change happened, but I really have come to enjoy listening to National Public Radio (NPR) stations. Some might say it’s an age thing. They’d be right, in a way. If I never hear another screaming disc jockey that will be OK with me. Really.
Radio has taken on a whole new dimension in the past decade or so. We now have the option of purchasing satellite radio and listening to commercial-free tunes — of just about any music variety — plus other specialty programming. I’m a fan of this, as well.
Plus, with the introduction of on-line “streaming,” it’s now possible to listen to just about any “regular” radio station on one’s computer. Still, there’s the issue of annoying commercials. The computer can’t solve every problem.
During work hours, I have the best of both worlds — online streaming of an NPR station that plays all of the music that I like.
We have a satellite subscription, but my wife uses that in her office. And I’m too thrifty (cheap) to get a second setup for home listening.

Nice static!
Even if I did want to listen to a commercial radio station, signals in the mountains are difficult to receive. As a general rule, NPR stations have a pretty strong network and are among the few stations whose signals come through loud and strong.
So, a few years back, I started listening to NPR stations more out of necessity than anything else. Somewhere along the line, I began to enjoy this experience.
The thing about NPR is that it’s mellow. Sure, there’s an occasional grating violin piece — you know the type that, unlike something relatively fun like water-boarding — is pure, unadulterated torture for the ears. No argument. But mostly NPR music is easy on the ears. Except for the Saturday afternoon opera.
But that’s about it. The news is mellow. The commercials don’t exist and the interviews, well, they’re low-key too. I’m guessing that anyone who works on-air for an NPR station has to pass some sort of test for mellow-oscity — like an EKG for one’s voice.
The added bonus of all this easy listening is that you actually learn stuff that probably won’t be heard on Fox “News” (my quotes) or even on the Fox-Wannabe stations like CNN. I guess when there are no reports on Britney or Paris, there’s more time for real news.
Because NPR stations are “listener supported,” a regular listener probably feels some sort of obligation to make financial contributions to help pay for all this serenity.
The fund drive periods are a bit tough for me — I am not fond of hearing people beg for money for their services — visions of Eliot Spitzer flash in my head.
Or, maybe it’s just plain, old-fashioned guilt knowing that I’m getting this entertainment and education for free. Somehow, I doubt I would feel the same if my TV services were coming in for no charge. But with NPR, there’s a real sincerity and it’s definitely a worthwhile endeavor. So, I usually write a check to the stations that I listen to, but I’m never sure how much to give. After all, how do you put a price on enjoying both what you do hear and you don’t hear?