I want to tell you about one of my favorite hours of the week: 7:30 — 8:30 AM on Wednesdays. I wake up early on Wednesdays and have a long commute. That is when I have the little ritual of listening to the Morning Blend show on KBCS, one of Seattle’s community radio stations.
The host, a lady named Fionamoran, which is probably two words but sounds like one, sounds as sleepy as I feel. Actually, she sounds stoned. At 7:30 in the morning. The show alternates between little news programs and folky music, in a completely spacey kind of way. The news doesn’t overwhelm you. The music is broken up often enough that you know that you’re awake.
The news segments drift along in a predictable, dreamlike progression. This is helpful for a sleepy mind. First comes news from Bellevue. In Bellevue, citizens save each other with defibrillators in the gym and run for various local offices. That’s nice. Then there’s music, usually a lady singing, who may be wearing a cowboy hat or something flowy, but it’s radio, so I don’t know.
Then comes Earth Sky, a science show. Earth! Sky! A Clear Voice for Science! This is where they find life in distant galaxies and discover that the dinosaurs who left the tracks were swimming, not stampeding. Cool.
Then Jim Hightower and his populist commentary. Usually this comes when I’m in a mass of cars driving over Mercer Island, also known as Poverty Rock. Mr. Hightower is cheerfully incensed about corporate power in his blowsy Texas accent. He exposes the world of politics to be one big Comedy of Tragedies, and he always lets me be on his side. It’s awesome and it never makes me cry.
Right on his heels — we’re running up against the end of the hour — comes Labor Neighbor Radio, the Voice for Working Families, with John Sanderfeld, who sounds like a cheerful robot. He also explores everyday atrocities, but sticks to local ones. Then more music.
Sometimes Fionamoran comes on to tell us what song just played. She reads every title like a foreign concept. Sometimes she says it will be Earth Sky, but it is Jim Hightower. She never apologizes. She just keeps going. I keep driving and drinking my oatmeal.
Then, often many minutes before the hour, she comes on to wrap things up. After that comes an indeterminate amount of a probably endless song that might be African or Caribbean or South American and I should be able to tell but I can’t but I like it anyway. It’s probably African, because the words I catch go “Africaaaaa, Africaaaaa,” and I think I hear marimbas. But other people might sing about Africa, too. You never know.
Eventually, it fades away, and on comes Amy Goodman, rocking out to the Democracy Now theme song, which sounds like superhero music. Then more atrocities, all through Sammamish. But I’m awake now, and can take them without a happy Texan voice.
And then I park the car and go for a walk somewhere beautiful with Squinchy. We see flowers and eagles and snakes. And then we teach little children about Walt Whitman and apostrophes, and driving back home again there is rarely anything interesting on the radio.