Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The preset radio stations in your car and what they say about you (probably not much)

Want to really get to know someone? The first thing you should do is watch how they treat servers in restaurants and cashiers in stores. That's going to tell you a lot.

The second thing to do is to sneak into their car (break in if you have to, this is important) and see what stations they have pre-programmed into their radio.

I suppose you could also see what CDs they have there, but for now stick with me on the radio thing.

Generally speaking, cars nowadays have far more radio presets than you or I need. My 2005 Honda Accord, for example, gives you the option of setting up to 12 FM stations and 6 AM stations. I need maybe half that, though I did populate them all because I felt like I had to.

But really, when I'm not listening to a book on CD, I only engage with five or so of my preset FM stations and two of the AM channels.

Still, even the ones I don't listen to often might tell you something about me, mainly that I have a short attention span and can't figure out what I want to hear.

Here are my radio presets in numerical/frequency order:


  • 90.3 WCPN ideastream: This is our local National Public Radio affiliate, which I really only listen to on Saturday mornings when they play "Whad'ya Know?" and reruns of "Car Talk." My conservative friends will tell me that listening to NPR poisons my mind.
  • 92.3 The Fan: A sports talk station. Most of the guys on this station annoy me, yet I still listen. Am I that desperate? Apparently so.
  • 95.5 The Fish and 103.3 Moody Radio: The two Christian-themed stations on my dial. I honestly don't spend a lot of time on either, but I at least consider it. That counts for something, right?
  • 96.5 KISS FM: One of the stations I have here solely for the purpose of listening to when I have one of my kids in the car with me. I'm familiar with maybe 3% of the songs they play.
  • 98.5 Classic Rock: "Classic Rock" used to mean the same five Rush songs played over and over. Now occasionally they throw in some early 80's Van Halen, which is nice.
  • 100.7 WMMS: The Buzzard! This station has no identity now, as far as I can tell. You'll hear just about anything.
  • 102.1 FM: This was "Adult Contemporary" when I was growing up, now it's at least a little more hip. It makes us 40-somethings feel better about ourselves for listening to it, I think.
  • 104.1 FM: Very Top 40-ish. See entry above on 96.5 KISS FM.
  • 104.9 FM WCLV - Classical: I'm really into classical music these days, so this is probably the station to which I listen the most. They're affiliated with our NPR station above, prompting me to throw some cash their way every month. I listen to "The First Program" every morning because the pieces are short and relaxing, and I listen to "Symphony at 7:00" whenever I have a long day at work and I'm still driving home at that time. Great stuff.
  • 105.7 FM: "Oldies." And they're starting to play a lot of 80s music with which I grew up and which now qualifies as "old." Kill me now.
  • 106.5 The Lake: Their motto? "We play anything." What their motto should be? "We play anything, as long as it's New Wave or Hair Metal released between 1981 and 1988."
  • 850 ESPN Cleveland: More sports talk and the main radio home of my beloved Lake Erie Monsters hockey team. They have "Mike and Mike" in the mornings, which I like and like.
  • 1100 WTAM: This is our local 50,000 watt behemoth news/talk/sports/traffic station. Every city has one, and you unavoidably end up on this station from time to time to check on a traffic back-up on your way to work or if you just want to listen to a baseball game for a few innings on a lazy Saturday afternoon in July.
  • Four other AM stations that I can't even identify: Because they're all essentially the same. I have almost no use for them, but there's an OCD part of me that can't stand the thought of these preset slots being tuned to nothing but dead air. I'm like that.

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