Yesterday, me an’ the missus headed to Annapolis, MD (the state capital) to, well. . . just to get out of the house, I guess. Annapolis is a little Colonial bay town with the US Naval Academy and some pretty architecture. The population is only 36,408, and most of the folks we saw were clearly tourists. If you’re a seafarin’ millionaire, it would be a swell place to show off your triple-decker boat as you sip $500 whiskey and blast Jimmy Buffett. A nice place to visit (for the 2.5 hours we spent), but I don’t think I could live there.
Still, it was a beautiful day, all sunshiney but not too humid. On the way down I got to test out what I think will be the future of broadcasting on wheels — I hooked up the 3G iPhone to the car stereo (which admittedly sucks), and fired up the AOL/CBS radio app. Suddenly, I had thousands of internet channels at my fingertips — sorta like satellite radio, minus Howard Stern and Bob Dylan.
Actually, I did hear some Dylan on the "Classic Rock Deep Cuts" station, which spun the kind of tunes that terrestrial classic rock stations would be playing had massive ownership consolidation not resulted in an aural wasteland where you hear five Zeppelin songs and a couple o’ Peter Frampton ditties, with the occasional Boston tune tossed in. But this was more like the radio I grew up with in the ’70s and ’80s — a healthy blend of bong-ready anthems and other jams that were never intended to fit the three-minute format. Perfect for sing-alongs on the freeway while you’re burning through the last of the world’s petroleum.
For kicks, I even checked out the ’90s alternative station, where I heard (crappy) tunes I hadn’t encountered since Bill Clinton befouled that young lady’s dress. None of it was any good, really, but the playlist was a lot broader than the usual Nirvana-Foo Fighters–Alice In Chains–Weezer-Whatever Horrible Emo or Screamo or Hot Topic "Goth" Band The Record Companies Are Desperately Flaunting These Days. Do I sound bitter?
Of course, some of the bigger acts get their own stations — Bruce Springsteen, Dave Matthews Band, Radiohead (and for some reason, Smashing Pumpkins). I actually put it on the Radiohead station for part of the drive back, because I haven’t listened to them in a long time. Sure, when they put out a new record I live with it for a while, as it’s our collective cultural duty to do so. But it’s not like I throw on The Bends or the How’s My Driving? EP often, if ever. My revelation? Thom & co. are pretty fucking good.
All in-all, a fun little getaway that inadvertently pointed to yet another reason commercial terrestrial radio is doomed. Oh, and I ate the biggest friggin’ lobster ever.