When I was a wee lad growing up in the country near a small Central Minnesota burg called Pearl Lake, I didn’t have many entertainment choices.
We had a TV, of course, and it got a whopping four channels. (And we had to get up and change the channel by turning a knob!)
We also had a hi-fi stereo I loved listening to music on — 45 rpm records my older siblings and I would buy for less than a dollar.
The other device I had was a transistor radio. Anyone younger than 30 probably doesn’t know what I’m talking about. But my transistor radio was my constant companion, especially in the summer time when I was outdoors and wanted to listen to music.
I remember my transistor radio well. It was an army-green color with red knobs. I probably liked it for that reason alone, since my brothers and I would often play pretend “army” games. The radio looked like a miniature version of those walkie-talkies soldiers used in Vietnam.
It was fueled by a single battery, and I could pull in two radio stations I loved listening to. One was KDWB out of the Twin Cities and the other was WDGY out of Chicago.
Both of those stations played the pop music that was popular at the time — the Beatles, Tommy James and the Shondells, the Bee Gees and of course artists like the Archies and other “Bubble Gum” groups.
The transistor radio was my connection to the outside world. It helped me pass the time between doing chores and playing endless games of baseball or football with my brothers and friends.
I could take the radio into the backyard and be by myself and at the same time be in touch with what was going on in that great big world beyond our farmyard.
Today, my “transistor radio” of choice is my Blackberry smart phone. I can punch in stations like Pandora and listen to the very same music I listened to then. I just choose a station like the one I’m listening to now, which I selected for one of my favorite artists of that era, The Lovin’ Spoonful.
With a few clicks I can hear songs by not only Lovin’ Spoonful but other musicians and groups that play similar kinds of music from that era. It kind of takes me back in time to that earlier, simpler time. But now, I don’t have to buy batteries, nor do I have to hold the radio up against my ear just to ensure the radio waves come in clear.
And if I don’t like a song, I just click a button and it skips to the next artist. I have to admit it might be nice to have a D.J. like True Don Blue announce the next song and artist, but if I don’t know who is singing what song, I just have to tap into the main screen and it shows me who is singing and the name of the song.
I guess I would’ve never imagined technology would change so much in 50 years. But even though this is much higher-quality music, I still wish I had that old transistor radio. I’m not sure what happened to it. It probably got set aside as I grew up and ended up in the trash heap somewhere.
It doesn’t matter, because in my memory that old-green radio plays on.