Saturday Morning Radio Adventures

Or, “Please, Make It Stop!”

On Saturday morning, while working in the garage, I decided to flip on a radio station I don’t normally listen to at that time, WGN AM-720. For those outside the Chicago area, this is a very well known, old, establishment, clear channel, middle of the road talk station, that has also been doing Cubs baseball for generations, and used to be the home of Wally Phillips, a talk radio legend.

In other words, you can’t get much more mainstream than this station. Key point. Hold on to it for a minute.

So the host, John Williams, who is usually on during the week but was subbing this time, starts discussing some news stories from the previous week and taking calls and reviewing voicemails about them. This should have been my first clue.

The first topic was President Bush sparing Scooter Libby from his prison sentence. The voice-mailers were not happy.

“Bush is a criminal, he should be impeached, another example of an out of touch and out of control president, blah blah blah”. Oh yay. Nary a word about Richard Armitage being the real “leaker”, the real “outer” of non-covert Valerie Plame, as if such a thing were even possible. Nary a word about out of control prosecutors, whose fury and deep pockets — oh wait, that’s you and me — just might be aimed at Democrats next time. Nary a word about a true scandal, Sandy Berger stealing and destroying classified documents relating to national security, and how he plea bargained away cash and his own law license in order to avoid jail. Gee, Wally, you think there might be something interesting there? In Sandy Berger’s pants? Er, sorry, bad mental image. Think about baseball. Yeah, that’s it, baseball … NOT thinking about Sandy Berger’s pants, NOT thinking about Sandy Berger’s panrts, NOT thinking about Sandy Berger’s pants …

The tone of these people was my second clue.

But, hey, whatever, I can’t control people’s opinions. If folks want to get all jazzed about invented scandals, and pretend that something important has happened, I say, go for it! It’s good to have something to live for. Besides, I’m sanding some shelves in preparation for staining them, and I’m in a good mood. These shelves are for our kitchen, and will help us organize our Gargantuan Piles of Stuff. Life is good, and I’m NOT going to let this annoy me, on a beautiful, relaxing Saturday morning.

Then Mr. Williams moves to the next topic: global warming. Third clue.

He takes a call from a guy in Bolingbrook who doesn’t buy any of it, including that man is the primary cause. He mentions that Mars is now warming too, to which Mr. Williams illogically replies, emotion rising, “that has nothing to do with it.”

Oh really? Nothing to do with it? Seems to me that a clear-thinking observer would take that information and ask the question, “well, can we prove or disprove the theory that whatever is warming Mars might be warming Earth too?”

I even have a hunch what it might be. Call me kooky, but I’m guessing it’s the Sun. You can thank me later.

The Sun. The big bright orange thing in our sky that makes life on Earth possible, and warms us by a good 20 or 30 degrees every day (and much more were it not for our atmosphere, which retains heat at night). The center of our solar system, the mass of burning energy without whose heat and light we would cease to exist.

But even if it was not the Sun warming Mars, the logical construct remains: whatever is warming Mars might be warming Earth. To dismiss it requires disproving it: a logical and true series of statements that use facts to refute the assertion. You can’t just lay out a big fat “that has nothing to do with it” and expect to be taken seriously.

Williams ends up cutting the call short because he gets too upset with the caller, and he even admits that is why he has to hang up. Poor fellow. Life is harder when you choose to invest emotional energy in what should be a voyage of scientific discovery.

Oh. Well, here’s an idea: bye!

I’d heard enough. Fifteen minutes of under-informed yahoos and intolerant Radio Talk Show Hosts drove me away. My hope was that listening to a station like this would provide a sort of oasis from shrillness, but I lost that bet, at least on that day.

I flipped over to my favorite oldies station, I tend not to get annoyed there. Except of course when they play Kiki Dee.

Or, God forbid, “Good Morning Starshine”. I heard this on the way to work the other day, and marvelled at the inanity of the thing. You could make a “this is your brain on drugs” commercial from the lyrics of that stupid song. I suppose the silliness is part of the point; it’s a cute, silly, innocent song; a children’s song more or less, I guess, but for me it just doesn’t work that way. It sounds like a relic from a distant, and regrettable, past. The rest of the words are OK, outside of the chorus, and the melody is decent enough. But “Gliddy glub gloopy, Nibby nabby noopy, la la la lo lo, Sabby sibby sabba, Nooby abba nabba, le le lo lo, tooby ooby walla, nooby abba naba,” makes me want to drive off the road into a light pole, just to make it stop.

I’m not against silly songs in general: I still like silliness like “Candy Man” and “Everything is Beautiful” and “Henry VIII” and “My Name is Michael”.  In fact, I find that generally speaking, simple melodies with memorable words tend to age very, very well, indeed. But I draw the line at “Good Morning Starshine”.  And the fact that it was written for the musical “Hair” doesn’t help its cause any.

Hey, you know the old saying: You’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.

(Edited for content July 10, 2007)


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