My youngest and her equally young fiance, came in last night and caught me privately enjoying myself.
(Oh, please… stop sniggering you at the back).
I was just happily listening to a football match on a small, portable, but very old and battered transistor radio.
Listening on A.M. in fact, with the sound fading in and out, distortion making voices inaudible for long seconds at time, and of course having to constantly re-tune to be able to hear anything at all. The room filled with all those whistling and crackling radio noises as the signal wavered about teasingly.
The two of them stood and looked askance at me. What? Then the obvious question was asked. Why don't you listen to the digital radio instead of that thing?
Hmm. Why indeed.
I didn't really have an answer, so just shrugged. They shook their heads in unison and made twirling motions with their index fingers pointed at their heads.
How could I possibly explain it to them? How can I explain it to you …
The thing is, progress isn't always that brilliant. I could listen to digital DAB radio clarity of course. But… you can't simply just switch on a digital set like you can my old tranny. It has to load. Then it has to connect to the wi-fi. Which of course isn't on, so I would have to turn that on as well. Or even if I don't and rely on the on-air broadcast, I have to start pressing myriad buttons finding sub-menus to reach the damned radio channel that I want. And it's so long since I used the blasted thing I've forgotten which button pressing sequence is needed to find the sub-menu that you have to find in order to select what you want from the hundred options presented. And, of course, the sound you end up listening to isn't really 'live' is it?
It is on my battered transistor radio…
There's no delay at all. In fact I could be celebrating a goal whole minutes before the poor deprived people listening to delay digital radio.
But the main reason I listen to old school radio is precisely because of the poor sound quality. (At least for the football matches I'm unable to watch on TV because I'm too cheap to pay for cable). I love that sound of over-excited commentators voices fading away into interference just as a goal is about to be scored. It forces me to listen with rapt attention while all the while fine-tuning and waving the radio about in the air for better reception. Come to think of it, that gives me a bit of excecise into the bargain.
And that strange quality of 'distance' of being in a place far away from the action and hence difficult to receive, is lost in the bland easiness of digital quality reception. I suppose it comes from my experiences of listening to the BBC World Service in far off places when, at the time, there was no other way of hearing the news. Whatever the reason, I'll continue to perplex the new generation and enjoy my little a.m. radio, the experience being better than reason.