Dean - Clifton Park, New York
Entered on February 3, 2008
Age Group: 50 - 65

The doorbell rang at 11 AM Sunday morning – how dare the intruder. It’s a U.S. Mail truck. I didn’t know they even delivered on Sunday. The package is smaller than a cigar box,

maybe around 6 by 10 inches and quite flat. It came from Hong Kong, and I have to sign and also print my name, the nice postman says.

The package says “sample of internet radio for client evaluation.” The label seemed odd. I did want the actual radio, not just a sample. I remember ordering it on eBay about two weeks ago, and I must now confess my reason on NPR. I wanted to be able to listen to Imus in the Morning. He’s on WABC now, a landmark station that once hosted rock and roll DJ legends like Bruce “Cousin Brucie” Morrow or Dan Ingram, and played the Beatles or Bob Dylan. Now they host Laura Ingraham or Imus, and Rush or Bob Grant. How things do change. While I don’t generally listen to the others, I sometimes like to tune in Imus and his menagerie of guests.

Imus used to be on WFAN radio and on MSNBC via simulcast. One morning he made an incredibly stupid comment on the air and in less than 24 hours he was gone. That’s another story, for a different essay. Now I can only get Imus via the internet, which means I would need to be at my computer between the hours of 6 and 10 AM, and I rarely am. I’m looking for the portable Imus, so I might be able to hear a portion of his broadcast on the treadmill, in the shower, upstairs or down, while I prepare to go to work, even on the deck outside if the temperature ever gets above 15° F again in upstate New York.

Back to the little package. It has been tightly and meticulously wrapped and once I finally break into the box, I am pleased to find two AA batteries, a nice touch from the folks in Hong Kong. I am not pleased to find that there are no instructions, no papers of any kind inside the box. There is, however, a mini compact disc inside. I think back on Peter Graves in the original Mission Impossible, and I’m ready to receive my instructions for the day in electronic form, not on an old fashioned tape but on mini CD.

So I slide the miniaturized version of the CD into the disc drive and Voila, it’s about to install something onto my computer. For a fleeting moment, my paranoia tells me that someone in Hong Kong is about to install a spyware program that will take over my computer, access all my financial data, and immediately start withdrawing funds from my bank or brokerage account. I’ll be penniless by tomorrow. Didn’t some of those phony emails, the ones that begin “We have 2 million in cash and want to award you with half if you would just give us your bank information”…didn’t some originate in Hong Kong? Maybe I should stop the installation right now? No, I really do want to hear Imus. So I navigate my way through a typical installation program (in English thankfully) and then I’m directed to restart my computer.

Once I restart, there’s a brilliant new icon waiting there on the desktop. Double click and I soon find my way to a menu that allows me to search “the World.” Should I now feel a bit insular in only wanting for WABC in New York? When I see the breadth of this computer program that will allow me to search for a station anywhere in the world, I conclude that the station roster alone was worth the $49 price tag, even if the tiny and tinny-looking radio proves to be a bust. So far it had not produced a sound, not even static.

So let’s see…”World”…then click “Western Hemisphere”…then North America….United States…New York…New York City….click “Genre”….then “Talk Radio”….WABC…double click…buffering…buffering and BOOM! That tinny plastic thing lets out a blare and I jump out of my chair, then adjust the volume back down to a tolerable level. I’m happy now because tomorrow I’ll have Imus on the treadmill…or wherever. And as far as I know I’m not penniless yet.

I’m also amazed at the little plastic gadget, no bigger than a deck of cards, so I leave WABC in New York to explore the World. I decide to start in Samoa, because I’m thinking about volunteering there for a mission with Health Volunteers Overseas later this year. So I follow the tree…World…Eastern Hemisphere…Oceania…Samoa. There are only two genre choices: Christian Alternative or Contemporary. I double click Contemporary and station WKHJ in Samoa launches. I don’t know the song but think I recognize the artist from my daughter’s iPod collection. So maybe she’ll want to join us in Samoa.

I leave Samoa now in search of the unusual. Sri Lanka, I decide. World…Eastern Hemisphere…Asia…Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has lots of genres and many FM selections, one of which I’m surprised to see is called “Yes FM.” Double click…and the song I hear is “Everlasting Love” an old soul song redone more recently by Gloria Estefan. Honest, that was the first I heard out of Sri Lanka.

I believe Tom Friedman is right – the world is flat, really flat. When I have some more time I want to try going to Uzbekistan. They have a top 40’s channel that I really want to check out.