Radio on: A Listener's Diary

Sarah Vowell, Author St. Martin's Press $22.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-312-14712-9
In 1995, Vowell decided to evaluate everyday radio, switching stations from talk to rock to NPR. What emerges is a self-consciously hip look at America through its radio programs. Vowell is deeply affected by the death of Kurt Cobain in 1995 and bashes those who bash him (e.g., Andy Rooney, whom she labels ""one boring grouchy jerk""), sometimes oversentimentalizing Cobain with inane sentences: ""While his music led so many young people to freedom, his habit has induced others into the prison of addiction."" She delights in taking on Rush Limbaugh and Gordon Liddy and is appalled at the level of ""Hate Radio"" in the U.S., blaming it for inciting the bombing in Oklahoma City. While in the Southeast, she listens to radio in Spanish (although she doesn't understand the language) and laments how the homeless are treated in San Francisco (one was jailed for ""eating a banana on the sidewalk""). And while she loves Cobain, she despises the Grateful Dead (""the worst kind of cultural posturing and fraud""); can't stand I.M. Pei's design for Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; and reminds us that ""[a]ny woman is well aware that a group of more than three men you don't know convened in any configuration is, whether real or imagined, a threat."" On December 31 Vowell, who writes a music column for San Francisco Weekly, is ""Free at last from this radio hell"" and so, thankfully, is the reader. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/02/1996
Release date: 12/01/1996
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-312-18301-1
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-4668-5727-8
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