Voices in the Valley ❥ Local Radio

Mash Notes to Paradise by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Note 4, Local Radio

When I go back to Philadelphia, my hometown, there are only a few things that make me the least bit wistful for the place (besides some people, of course): the Wissahickon woods’ walking path, the vegan chili at Jonathan’s, those generous stone houses fronted by neon stands of forsythia, and WXPN’s World Café.

I may have every Live at the World Café CD ever made. I’m a very longtime member (also of WFCR and WAMC, worry not).

WXPN love is a big deal for me. I listen to the station when I’m driving around Philly and I wish it were mine, in person, in the car, not streamed. How funny since I’m so entirely delighted by my radio here at home. I mean we’ve got NPR in spades. We’ve got our own college station, where my friend, Fern, plays great music. And we’ve got WRSI.

❥ One of the crowning moments in my adult life was the day I stopped automatically turning to Morning Edition or All Things Considered if I got into the car when those shows were on. It wasn’t that long ago. I listen to the news, sure, however these days, I tend to stay with music. I am a much happier driver, now.

❥ The River—in that old-school-Valley way I still think of as RSI—has had all sorts of great folks sharing their voices over its airwaves. Its mixture: catchy songs, older songs, homegrown songs—and if you listen at the right time—you can even learn a little bit about birds.

Unlike many stations, I am glad to happen upon the radio on Saturday morning for Spare the Rock Spoil the Child’s whimsy-through-kindie music or Sunday morning’s acoustic and homey Back Porch.

During farmers’ market season, you can go say hi to Joan Holliday in the WRSI tent on Tuesdays. Year-round, there are all sorts of fun live broadcasts. The ridiculous wealth of local talent, from locals who play on the street to locals who play in small clubs, to locals that are whispered about when spotted in cities far from here, all contribute to our local radio’s awesomeness.

Even the commercials* are about places you know and often voiced by people you know. Sometimes, I forget to turn the dial.

Listening to WRSI offers the kind of quirky little radio experience that contributes to better drives. This is, as Monte Belmonte knows, especially important to me when I reluctantly drive to the high school before the 7:30 AM start. Sometimes, Monte’s song choice sways me from the grumbling mother-of-teen-dark-side to the smiling-bemused-radio-listener side, which is oh-so-much lighter.

I could enjoy it all even more if I streamed radio—ours, Philly’s, anyone else’s—at home, but I don’t seem to. Perhaps, I should. I just like quiet. Yeah, four kids equal a distinct void in the quiet department. Music might improve things!

❥ Little known and random fact about me: a professional recorded my cell phone’s voice mail message. It’s awesome.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah is a writer, who lives in Northampton with her husband and four children. She contributes to Preview Massachusetts Magazine, as well as other publications and writes a parenting blog Standing in the Shadows at the Valley Advocate. She moved to the Valley to attend Hampshire College—and found the Valley such a nice place, she stayed!

[Photo credit: (ccl) Travis Gertz]

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