Radio Silence

I used to listen to the radio. A lot. Once upon a time I thought I’d be a radio DJ. It seemed like it could be quite a nice gig.

When I moved to NYC in 2005, I stopped listening to the radio by default, as I could never get a signal on my stereo in any of the multitude of apartments I inhabited.

Zoe Radio

A shirt I could only get away with in my twenties. But I did love listening to my tunes, as evidenced by my hip CDs on display.

As someone who likes to keep on the up and up with the newest hit songs, it was depressing to go into a void. I never learned what the radio stations in New York were. In fact, I still only remember the ones from St. Louis, where I grew up. Fortunately, around that time, music was more and more shifting to streaming and/or being available on things like Napster and iTunes.

I could check the iTunes Store to see what I liked and order a CD or download an album, as I became wont to do. The shift from CD to downloaded music was a subtle one but I haven’t purchased a hard disc of music in quite a few years now.

One of my favorite things in life is getting that instant gratification from sampling and downloading songs I love, new or old. Instead of hitting Record on the tape deck, I can type in any artist, song title, or album, and either take a trip through the Forest of Nostalgia or see what the kids are listening to these days and figure out if anything is worthwhile. (Unfortunately, as I get older, I am more and more baffled by the “hits” topping the charts, and I recognize fewer and fewer artist names.)

Living in New York, everything I ever needed was on my iPod, which is an absolute necessity if you are going to live in any major metropolis and commute on public transportation. My commute is pretty short and sweet these days, so if I do listen to anything on the way to work, it’s on a CD or my iPod. Add in to the fact that listening to radio commercials sets my teeth on edge and I have no patience for them anymore (thanks to the advent of the DVR), the radio has slipped into nonexistence, as far as I’m concerned.

It only occurred to me the other day that, essentially, I have not listened to the radio in eight years. What used to be a crucial item in my existence has simply faded away. The only “radio” I listen to now is Pandora on occasion, a totally evolved version of the medium. I still get to hear new music, insofar as it’s new to me, and anything I really like, I can go to my computer and get. C’est magnifique!

Anyone else out there still a hardcore radio aficionado? Or has your music lifestyle changed, as mine has?

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Side notes: I have never subscribed to Sirius Radio or anything like that, which is the “cable” of radio. My total ignorance on this topic is why I have left it out entirely. Additionally, my dude does listen to talk radio, so it’s still a big part of his life. Plus, when we go on road trips, we play a game where we hit Scan on the radio and see who can guess the name and artist of a song before it scans to the next station. It’s a nice way to pass the time, actually, and the only time the radio retains any lingering significance for me.

The Netflix “Crisis”

Until I saw this video from Funny or Die this morning, I hadn’t really put into perspective just how tragic people find the recent Netflix price hike to be, nor how shallow it is in comparison to actual problems. And it’s not like I haven’t been dealing with my own share of issues. The Netflix price increase was, for me at least, kind of the icing on the cake to what I have dubbed the “Summer Blues.”

In any case, to paraphrase, the video makes a great point about an issue that is affecting millions of white people across America, deadpanned by the great Jason Alexander.

What’s interesting, however, is that my boyfriend and I have discussed this issue at length, with the most recent stint occurring last night before dinner; in this way, we definitely lived up to the stereotype that it’s all “anybody” can talk about – for days at a time. I sat at my computer, reading Netflix’s Facebook Page Wall (that’s a mouthful) and combing through the thousands of messages people have been leaving for them, while Kevin looked through various news articles on his laptop. We sat there comparing notes and tsking and figuratively shaking our fists in the air at this nonsense.

The bottom line is, people are outraged that Netflix is jacking up the price by 60% without discussing it with their millions of loyal customers first. I’m a little torn because I can see both the company’s perspective and the one of being the huffy consumer. (Aside: one woman wrote a scathing comment on the Netflix FB Page and several people proceeded to jump on her, making her out to be a screeching, mindless woman who had no right to be upset. It was pretty brutal.) Quite frankly, I just don’t want to have to choose between the discs or streaming. I want to have both! But I am unwilling to pay $15.99 a month for the privilege. It used to be that that price would get you three movies at a time, something which I never had the luxury of affording. I’m a one-at-a-time gal.

I do think it would have been nice to have some kind of survey or something sent out, or even a price hike in the range of say, $3.00, to continue enjoying new movies on DVD and streaming older (sometimes crappy) movies and lots of television shows. We don’t stream on more than one device at a time but many have left since Netflix has begun enforcing its streaming policy. Apparently Netflix only wants to allow you to stream on the same basis of how many discs you take out at a time, which really negates “Unlimited” streaming but also, what happens when you go to the all streaming plan?

I was thinking about how electronic subscriptions differ from say, magazine subscriptions. Netflix caught on to the fact that people were sharing their log-on information with family/friends and so to keep people from “stealing,” they are cracking down on multiple device streaming. Granted, I don’t own or run a billion dollar company, but if I have a subscription to Vogue and I give all my copies to a friend to read when I’m done, how is this different? Is that person “stealing,” too? Is this really a problem for Netflix when they have ousted a lot of its competition (namely, physical DVD rental places) and they are highly profitable?

The only other troublesome thing is that I think many people would have stayed on if Netflix had newer releases available to stream, at least, instead of the B movies of yesteryear. Granted, I have loved catching up on some older television shows, but when I want to watch something new that came out that I was unable to see in the movie theater, I believe I should be able to do that if I am paying a monthly subscription fee.

RedBox has gone through the roof with new customers. Blockbuster immediately set up a plan to soothe the wounded from Netflix. They offer hard disc rentals, streaming, games, and even Blu-Ray discs at no extra charge and are offering a 30-day free trial to the scorned. Check out all the details here. I don’t want to like Blockbuster. They used to charge $4.99 to rent a DVD for two nights. I can’t even say how much money my parents and myself spent in the 90s and early 2000s renting movies and games from them. Netflix was the solution! But this latest blow does give me cause to reconsider my options. While I believe I will probably try out the streaming-only plan come September, I can’t guarantee I won’t jump ship.

It’s hard not to think that Netflix only cares about the bottom dollar and now that they have eleven years in to this business, no longer care about Joe American Movie Watcher.

I’m on the fence. What will you do?