Turn up the radio

Last Thursday, I officially became old.

It wasn’t my birthday. I just happened to be driving around when a song that was popular back in my high school days came on the radio.

It was on the oldies station.

You can imagine my reaction to this type of shocking development. That’s right, I accidentally ran over a crossing guard.

But at least he’ll get over his injuries. I, however, won’t recover from this emotional hit. You always picture yourself as young and hip. “Oldies” music is from your parents’ or grandparents’ era — a simpler time when airwaves were filled with more carefree and innocent music from the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis and other drug-addicted men who liked to date 14-year-olds.

Apparently, though, my generation’s music is now considered old. Which is fine. I’ll cope. I just wonder what the oldies station will play 30 years from now:

Kids riding in car: “Dad, will you please change the station?”

Dad: “No. You have to hear this one. It’s a classic from when I was a youngster. It’s called, ‘I Like Big Butts.’ “

I’ve been thinking a lot about radio lately because of a letter I received from the Nielsen company. It appears they’ve chosen me to participate in their bi-annual radio ratings study. Not to brag, but it’s a fairly prestigious honor, and one not just given to anybody. I knew this when I saw that the envelope was addressed to “Radio Listener No. 6.”

The letter inside informed me that I, Radio Listener No. 6, had been personally “chosen to represent my community.” They said it like I had qualified for the Olympics or something. Also enclosed was $2 cash for my efforts. It seems my written thoughts and opinions are worth $2. Some of you will say I’m overpaid. Regardless, I promptly took the money and put it into my daughter’s college fund, bringing her total up to $2.17.

According to Nielsen, this whole ratings process is to remain strictly confidential. So let me tell you all about it.

First you methodically fill out the initial paperwork. The next day you clean it off with a towel, seeing as how your 1-year-old has been using the Nielsen Radio Survey as target practice for the upcoming Gerbers sweet potatoes throwing competition.

A few days later, they mail you a diary in which you’re supposed to write down the times and stations you listen to. This can be difficult if you’re one of those annoying people who constantly changes the station. Maybe you listen to a song for approximately five seconds before deciding there has to be something better out there. Or maybe you’re violently opposed to radio commercials to the point where if you hear “second pair free, second pair free” one more time, you will pull over, pop open the hood, and place your head in the fan belt.

Either way, we’re completely alike. I’m always fiddling with my car radio buttons. This probably explains all the accidents with crossing guards. It also drives my wife up the wall. She never says anything about it, but I can tell. I just go under the assumption that she’ll hold her frustration deep inside and stew on it until some undetermined future breaking point, at which time she’ll kill me with an ax in my sleep.

And just so we’re clear, we Nielsen survey participants are expected to act in a professional and ethical manner, meaning that you radio people out there are not allowed to try to influence me in any way, like — for example — sending CDs or concert tickets to me in care of The Daily Sentinel, P.O. Box 668, Grand Junction, CO 81502.

The bottom line is that this ratings survey is an important responsibility, and one that I take seriously. So my fellow citizens, please know that I, Radio Listener No. 6, promise to represent you well.

And to you radio people out there, I’ll give you a fair shot by listening to your station, but you’re going to have to turn the volume up.

I’m old.

E-mail Steve Beauregard at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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