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Letter: Endless Audio Options in the Car Do Not Make for Easy Listening

"Back in the day I didn't have to take my eyes off the road to see what button I was pushing"

In this letter to the editor, the author comments on Karl Zuk’s recent guest commentary “AM Listening Is Better Than Ever … in My Tesla!” Comment on this or any article. Email [email protected].

LOVED the article from Karl Zuk and his Tunein experience from behind the wheel of his Tesla. I can’t wait to read [about] those who will do the following:

  1. Scold him for staring at a touchscreen when he should be watching the road.
  2. Scold him for stating that streaming online is cost effective. Yes, stations don’t have to have transmitters ‘n towers, but the end user has to have the proper accounts — cell phone, internet, etc.
  3. Point out that, in its early days, radio was easy. Turn it on and listen.
  4. Point out that the myriad choices can boggle even the most technical mind.
  5. Let Karl know that what he’s hearing is at least 30 seconds old because of the digital delay.
  6. Issue the warning that when cell towers and internet streams go down in emergencies (and they will), his cell phone and its streaming will be useless.

I once had to use a screwdriver to activate my 57 Chevy’s starter solenoid. That was more work than turning the key. In the day, it was easy. Today, I’d be hard-pressed to want to expend the effort.

Karl, you don’t HAVE to hear KFI, WABC, WADO or even Joe Rogan’s podcast on an RF tuner. Yes, it’s all online. It’s just a lot of work, and can even be dangerous if you’re trying to do this at 70mph on a busy freeway. In my day I had (and only needed) five radio station choices. First button was WGR (or WBBF or WSYR). Last button was WHEC (or WKBW or WOLF).

Of course back then radio was GOOD enough that if you didn’t like what was on station “A”, you’d probably find something you like on station “B.”  Today, you’d be hard pressed to find a station “B” that you’d want to listen to. Back in the day I didn’t have to take my eyes off the road to see what button I was pushing.

Karl, you point out the thousands of audio choices and the effort you exert to find them. Those of us with the time and patience might seek them out. Those who just want to hear a familiar comforting voice or a favorite type of music? They’ve got a lot of searching to do.

Latest survey says people spend an average of 45 hours a year looking for a TV show to watch. It could be twice as long with the audio choices. Some will seek it out. Some will be utterly confused and “settle” for AM or FM. Some will just shut it off.

I would just like my broadband AM receiver, my sensitive FM receiver and then let me decide if I want to embellish it with Sirius/XM, my cell phone data or questionable quality MP3 from my digital device. Technology gives us the choice, but in the end WE decide what the solution is. Thanks, Radio World for bringing it out.

— Dave Mason, on-air host, San Diego, Calif. [KPBS(FM/TV); KOCE(TV); KCET(TV); WRMI]

[Related: “Letter: Radio Needs Tesla to Fix This Car Dashboard Flaw”]