Listening to the Radio in Texas.
5,000 kilometres through Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Colorado is an auditory nightmare. There are hundreds of radio stations, many with a range of just a few miles, so there is constant searching for another frequency as they fade and come in over each other.
The stations consist of 60% Western music. This is broken up into several genres. The most prolific are the “somebody done somebody wrong songs”, closely followed by over the top “she’s my woman/man love songs”. Daddy and his advice feature highly as do dogs, horses and pick-up trucks and of course mama and daddy slaving in the dry fields to raise their 16 children (they must have had the odd moment off!). Truckers singing, slaving, making it home, rolling over, caught in snow and battling the evil weighbridge guys and mean cops complete the mainstream selection.
Welcome relief is provided by the drinking section with fight’n, danc’n and picking up women in bars. My favourite from this trip was ‘Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off”.
There is a small assortment of political programs, usually outrageous tirades for two hours against Obama and Democrats in general from fanatical right wing Republican announcers.
News comes regularly on the hour and universally consists of the results of the local high school football game, decisions made by the city council to paint the crosswalks yellow and reminders that the local Little League are holding cookie fundraiser sale. The Police Chief may get an interview to explain the thrilling encounter with one Regis J. Schitenauer of 45 Oak Street when he was warned for having a bald right front tire. The fact the US Government has run out of money and half the public service are on unpaid “furlough” and National Parks are closed amongst many other services got only a 30 second mention on each station no more than once a day.
International news? There is some vague awarenes that there are people living in other parts of USA but there are definitely no countries anywhere in the rest of the world worthy of even passing mention.
Of the remaining 40% of available stations half are Spanish/Mexican which in fact are the brightest with their catchy brass and guitar music. Their announcers may be competing with the English speakers to produce the most purile drivel but as I could not understand a word and they were so upbeat and happy I give them points for enthusiasm.
The remaining 20% were Christian stations! In an area where churches outnumber all other forms of community buildings by a heavy margin, this was only to be expected. I chanced upon the Christian Rock station, the Christian Blues station and a real rip snorter was the Christian Rap station. Amazingly, although I am positive I missed it, I found no Christan Western station although I did notice some singers on the mainstrean western stations slipping in how God saved them the from the drought without mention of how he caused the bloody thing in the first place.
The final offering had to be heard to be believed. I first tuned into this station to hear an announcer bouncing off the walls like those on the teenage FM rock stations but it soon became clear that this was not the full story. I had struck gold with the Christian Bible Reading station! After the wild introduction which I had stumbled upon, Fester M Parker, began his monotonous, dirge-like reading of John ( picked up from where he left off yesterday). It was so outrageously bad I was like a rabbit caught in the headlights and could not turn it off.
Finally Fester fizzled to a finish on verse 32 (I suspect he went to sleep, along with half his audience, and crashed off his stool in the studio).
The announcer, who I now know is Pastor Royal Stevens, stepped over Fester’s prostrate form to grab the microphone to thank him for his unique rendition of “everyone’s favourite Bible chapter”.
“And now folks, we have a great event taking place in Halitosis on Saturday. The ladies of the Four Square Gospel Church are holding a pancake afternoon to raise further funds for their magnificent project which we have been following for some time. The Committee President, Esme Kransky, tells me that they are right on target to complete the huge task of having EVERY hymn book in the church fitted with a hand stitched slip cover by Christmas. And folks, would you believe, she even intimated to me the ladies might burn the midnight oil to stitch enough covers for most of the bibles as well.
So get along to Halitosis on Saturday to support such a worthy cause”
“And now folks! (Trumpet Fanfare) Have I got a surprise for you today at one o’clock. We have non-other than Mary Collins coming along to read for us – wait for it – Yes! Mathew!!!! Mary has made Mathew her own and her rendition especially of verses 16 to 34 has made her in demand as a guest orator across the nation.
I told you recently about our attendance at the Christian Chicken Sexers Conference in Las Vegas. Well, Mary was the guest orator and I can tell you I went to bed that night so full of Proverbs – is there no limit to Mary’s talent – that I lay awake until the early hours.
So folks, go collect your neighbours and family and gather around the radio at one this afternoon for an event you will remember for years”
Sadly, the station faded before I could receive the benefit of Mary’s talents but I was rewarded with a local junior high school (14/15 year olds) competitive general knowledge quiz in which teams of kids were asked:
“ US servicemen and women are fighting for our freedom in Afghanistan. Which of these countries borders on Afghanistan? England, Pakistan, Brazil” Much discussion within the 3 teams resulted in Brazil two votes with the third stating it was a trick question and none of them did.
About that time I decided to give our one and only CD (Credence Clearwater Revival) another run for the third time that day.