My old red iPod is on the skids again. So tonight I brought a different companion out on my walk:
This old square radio, powered by an old square battery, belonged to my maternal grandfather, once upon a time. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s probably 35 years old or so — recent enough to accommodate both AM and FM operation.

It doesn’t get much use, but I keep it around for some undefined sense of utility, like if the lights ever go out for a truly extended period of time.

Not sure what I expected of it. In my heart of hearts, maybe I hoped I would turn it on and the New York suburbs of 1980 would come out, with the Scooter calling a Yankees spring training game … or WABC playing “Rock With You” … or at least some good greasy oldies, like Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers or summat.

Of course I didn’t do nearly so well. I kept it stuck on the AM band the whole time, and could come up with nothing better than:

– bland going-nowhere ESPN Radio Final Four blather

– inoffensive but uninteresting Spanish-language music

– a random station from Pittsburgh – just about all I could understand were the words “McKees Rocks

– some plummy-voiced pismire defending Indiana’s move toward state-approved homophobia (“…when people say you’re being intolerant, they’re really being intolerant of you, aren’t they?” No, and f–k you.)

– the Sixers Radio Network … and when the Sixers Radio Network is the highlight of your walk, well, that’s pretty sad

As I walked, I realized my house is just about the highest point on my course; it’s literally all downhill from there. That probably didn’t help the reception. Neither did the fact that the antenna is firmly wedged inside its casing.

(Both can be remedied to some degree: I can walk a different course, and I can find something skinny to pry up the antenna.)

I did enjoy a couple of highlights in the relative higher ground of my subdivision.

For a minute or two I caught New York City sports-talk station WFAN, which is something my grandfather might have listened to for the latest Yanks and Giants news, had it been around in his time. (The newsbreak I caught was sponsored by Bethpage Federal Credit Union. Yay out-of-town color!)

On my way out I briefly pulled in a French-language talk station somewhere between 850 and 900; and on my way back I caught CHLM 900-AM out of Hamilton, Ontario. Somebody was gabbing, once again, but it was Canadian gab, so that at least was interesting for two minutes.

I left the radio on CHLM. Early results might be disappointing, but I’m not done with this yet.

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