From Where I Sit – Radio Days and Nights

For the past several days and until the rain stopped our harvest efforts, I was operating our John Deere 7720 combine. It is hydrostatic, which allows me to control my forward and backward movement without having to step on a clutch pedal and change gears. This is a blessing when operating the machine for 10 or 11 hours straight. It also means It’s the best combine of the three that we own.

What’s even more desirable about my combine is the fact the radio works. In the other combines, static is the most likely result when you turn on the radio. And as maddening as that was, in past years I just accepted the fact. Without the distraction of the radio, after a few hours I would enter that sweet meditative state where creative thoughts bubble to the surface of one’s consciousness. In fact, I carried a tiny notebook and pen to capture those brilliant ideas. The fact that I never went back to the notebook to use those ideas seemed immaterial. It was the act that mattered, not the result.

I should confess that I’m a fair weather radio listener, more likely to tune in when winning a trip to Mexico is at stake. Otherwise, I can go for months without bothering. I especially hate the on-location broadcasts from car dealerships and hot tub places. I turn to Canada AM for my morning news. I usually drive in silence to tap into quiet thinking time.

So I was surprised to discover how much I enjoyed those days and nights of CBC Radio. It is commercial-free; thanks, I guess, to all those ?government handouts? that drive most Canadians crazy. CBC bashing has traditionally been a national pastime.

Prior to this, I was neither friend nor foe of the national corporation. I’m not sure how I’ve changed, but I was impressed. In an era of 30-second sound bites and superficial tickling of deep issues by most news outlets, CBC Radio can spend a full hour of airtime on a single topic. Those topics are nowhere near ?front of mind? for other news agencies, media, or probably most Canadians, but they’re worthy of exploration nonetheless.

Here’s some of what I heard above the din of my John Deere. I learned that the thawing of the permafrost is exposing the remains of thousands of woolly mammoths in Russia and Canada. The hope is that the 12-foot tusks retrieved from each animal will replace the trafficking of elephant ivory. I heard about parasitic worms that invade snails. About kinky fruit bat sex. About how migratory birds and bats have smaller brains than their counterparts who don’t travel huge distances. I heard comedians debate the merits of Scrabble versus Monopoly, the concept of lowering the drinking age, and the merits of mustachioed men.

I was captivated as brain scientist Jill Bolte Taylor relived the story of her catastrophic stroke at age 37. Her book, My Stroke of Insight, is now on my Christmas wish list. Thank you, CBC, for tackling the significant, the offbeat, the quirky. It’s great radio, from where I sit.