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April 15, 2024

A Time For Reflection

By Mark W. Swarthout

That is what I need to unwind after a long, all too often stressful, day at work. On November 21st, 1997, I climbed into my car and, as I returned the entrance pass to the guard, turned the radio back up, expecting to be soothed by the music of WQRS during the tension filled drive back home.

The noise that blared out at me came totally unexpectedly. I stared at my radio in disbelief. Surely I had locked the car! Who could have changed the station? A horn managed to cut through the din and I cursed as I swerved back into my own lane. I turned down the volume and punched the knob to replace the time with the station numbers. A bluish 105.1 stared back at me. Damn! The radio has gone bad! And then this voice said, "This used to be WQRS!"

Frantically, I punched the scan button and worked my way around the dial, in both directions, and found nothing but modern day, lyric based music. Finally I settled on my backup station, CBC 2, with its overly long news and arts reports and occasional static fades. At least the music was relaxing.

I had moved to Detroit a little over eleven years ago. It took me only a few days to find WQRS and lock it into the car stereo. My oldest stereo, the one I've owned for almost twenty years, sits in the basement beside the old recliner. Since coming to the Detroit area, I've studied my way through law school to the music it pulled in from WQRS. I don't think I have moved the tuning knob on that stereo since I set it up there.

I recall a couple of long nights, rocking in the living room with one or the other of the twins on my shoulder as the soothing tones from the stereo helped lull them to sleep. Dave and Paul and even Toni's traffic reports were pleasant and to the point.

I'm a member of the Sousalarm Club and the certificate is safely tucked away with others from various awards, classes and accomplishments. It even provided a bit of recognition when several co-workers said, "Hey, I heard your name on the radio!" As a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, I was pleased that WQRS played the Star Spangled Banner at noon every day.

Some say that the music played by WQRS was too predictable. But I like familiarity when I'm confronted by the pressures of the world. And when my young daughters climbed into my car and heard the music, they asked "Is that classical music, daddy? I like it!" Again, I was pleased.

Needless to say, I eventually came out of my shock. CBC2 served as a substitute for many years, although the news is from another country and there is no traffic report. At least I didn't have to listen to the seemingly endless string of commercials. Hmmm, I guess those Canadian chaps have figured out how to eliminate them. Pity the American radio stations are forced to play mind numbing rot in order to soften the brains of their listeners enough to inject the advertising for products that will continue the downward spiral of culture in the U.S.

I avoided 105.1 like it was contaminated for almost a decade. I know that they have had to change formats several times. Currently they have pulled in radio personalities from other networks to make a go of it, and the music is a decent mix of not too recent hits.

But radio continues to change. Now I have satellite radio, beamed down to me with no worries of fading signals, or moving out of range of the tower. I can listen to whatever type of music I wish to. And no requirement to listen to commercials! But I will still miss the days of WQRS and the memories that I will always associate with the magic of that music that the radio pulled in out of the air during that time.

Article © Mark W. Swarthout. All rights reserved.
Published on 2006-10-02
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