Pardon me while I geek out publicly: I love National Public Radio without shame. My favorite Sunday mornings were when our car ride to church coincided perfectly with Will Shortz’s Sunday Puzzle and the ride home featured The Splendid Table with Lynn Rossetto Kasper. At the time my husband and I would groan that we had to drive further than we were used to get to church, but looking back, we always enjoyed that time in the car because we had something so enjoyable to listen to.
Now that my husband and I bought a house not far from the church, we don’t listen on our way to and from church (but we do bike with the weather cooperates). However, the living in our new home means we am driving more to get my kids to school (when we used to be able to bike) and to get myself to class. Even though I am no fan of commuting, I do enjoy the excuse to tune in to one of my favorite stations.
I’m delighted that my drive time from class often seems to coincide with some fantastic interviews on Fresh Air or my local programming’s Think, I am always intrigued by the interesting people featured and the compelling insight they have to share. There have been times I have nearly snorted from laughing so hard at Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me. And don’t get me started on my love/hate relationship with the Diane Rehm Show. I have heard essays and experiences shared on This American Life that were so vivid, compelling and beautiful that I had to sit in the car for a few extra minutes so I could finish listening to them, and then spend the next few days digesting their richness.
I’ve borrowed ever so many book recommendations I’ve gleaned from reviews on the air. The “This I Believe” essay feature was where I first encountered poet Gregory Orr’s personal essay testifying of his belief and need for poetry. I’ve used that piece time and time again to introduce uncertain friends to the oft feared and misunderstood genre. It is fantastic.
I am often pulling the car over to jot down a note about something piece or idea I just heard about that really strikes me. So many of these thoughts and scraps of wisdom have informed my conversations later in the day or writing late at night.
Some of the news topics have spurred great discussions with my kids and caused them to think about beliefs and cultures beyond their own tiny world tucked into our car on the ride to school. There have been conversations about political process, world religions and world hunger. While the topics are huge and the information available is often more than they can comprehend, I am thankful to have someone else bring up some of the topics I want to talk with my kids about, but don’t always know where to begin. Just a minute or two of NPR spurs a question or two, and then I can click it off and we have something beyond our routine discussion points. I appreciate it.
And while I thought talk radio was the most horrible thing I could think of when I was younger, I must admit that now I have been converted for years. Yes, I do love music (especially the listener-supported independent station in my area , but it is all the talk on NPR that I love best. No one is shouting (except for Diane Rehm yesterday when one of the guests went AWOL during their interview, which was hysterical) and generally the tone is calm and rational. For me it is the most intriguing, thoughtful and useful thing on the air. I am so often surprised and delighted by new information, ideas and entertainment I enjoy as I listen. It makes my time in the car so much more enriching than it was before I became an avid listener. I hereby shut the case on any question of my geekiness; it is now fully established: I unabashedly love NPR.
How do you enlighten and inform your day? What do you listen to in the car?