My commute takes me straight across the city, from leafy northwest to industrial southeast. It is a painfully winding path through truck-abused streets, full of numerous ill-timed traffic lights and stop signs that cause me to experience the full spectrum of human emotion. In the past, I’ve spent this time blasting indie rock from my ipod or oldies-but-goodies filtered through a morning DJ’s banter, which left me feeling only ever mildly distracted from my purgatory, and (mostly) very bored.
But then, one forgiving morning, I wound up catching Democracy Now on WEAA. Listening to Amy Goodman highlight all of the news in the world sure to rouse and inspire me made something magical happen: my commute did not seem long enough. I languished in my office’s parking lot, hanging onto the words about Bradley Manning’s tragedy, not willing to miss anything. Alleviating driving boredom with excellent independent news coverage is a glorious thing. But I feel the most existentially valuable aspect of my new morning listening is the sobering effect of emotionally raw stories on my road rage. It’s pretty hard to keep up the same level of anger at say, that guy who blocks the left turn light on Fayette so that he can cut his way back into the stopped traffic going straight when you’re listening to disenchanted Iraq Veterans speaking about why they are giving their medals back in protest. I believe this is called perspective.
Leaving the dial on 88.9 for my drive home rewarded me with the Marc Steiner Show, and the exceedingly agreeable Anthony McCarthy on Fridays. I love listening to these shows at the end of the work day to get a locally flavored version of the national headlines, in addition to the Baltimore/Maryland news I wasn’t even aware of. Marc and Anthony are both wonderfully articulate men whose views I tend to agree with. But what’s great about their shows is that their guests and call-in listeners very frequently do not. See, I’m in my late twenties, and I pretty much get all of my news from blogs of my choosing. And while the internet is wonderful in its ability to allow me to customize my information gathering experience, it also tends to keep me in a bit of a bubble. Listening to local callers is at times encouraging, amusing, infuriating, or touching, but it is always enlightening.
So if your commute is leaving you feeling enraged or brain-dead, I encourage you to enjoy some old-school local talk radio. Everyone knows Baltimore has soul – sometimes the rhythm isn’t to music.