The weather report for coastal Oregon this morning? Foggy. Every morning is 48* and the visibility is less than a half mile. Driving over the drawbridge to town is eerie and romantic—maybe the rest of the bridge isn’t even there anymore—it’s impossible to know for sure.
Then by 11:00, the fog rolls away and it’s sunny and 65*. The sand dunes buzz with ATVs and people mill about the tourist shops in old town. But keep your fleece with you, cause by 4:00 it’s windy and even in the 60s, it feels chilly. Soon the fog will roll in and you’ll be craving soup and hot tea to warm up before bed.
Last week we boiled our brown rice to the melodic jiggery of the Grateful Dead’s 1977 Red Rocks concert, in it’s entirety. One of the new joys of Oregon living is the regular appearance of Downtown Deb, the DJ for “Dead Air,” which has had a regular spot on Oregon Public Radio for over 20 years. Deb takes over airwaves from 7:00 to 9:00 on Saturday evenings. She cannot believe how great it was to hear that jam, just so great, and she really hopes that you’re feeling it too.
Not every station has a Downtown Deb, and as elated as Deb is to play this next track, it’s just as sublime for us, weary travels to find her. Each new location comes with a new feast of local radio stations.
We were big WBEZ fans in Chicago and the loss of such interesting and varied programming was hard. In Chicago we could turn the radio on while making dinner and we’d find All Things Considered, and then Marketplace, and then The World, and then TED Radio Hour, or Radiolab, or a million other captivating programs. In Tucson, you’d get Marketplace, and then five million consecutive hours of Jazz Hour. So annoying.
It’s not that I dislike Jazz, I like it quite a bit, but I also like to be entertained with news and world happenings—especially while I cook. Paul starts his commute home around 7:30, and after 12 hours in an ER with no sunlight or outside communication, he likes to arrive home well informed. Plus Jazz Hour seemed to last 8 hours—technically the programs each had different names: Jazz Network, and the Jazz Connection, and then Downtown Jazz, or something like that—but when we wanted to know the results of super-de-duper-Tuesday #5, we did not want to be worked over by Thelonius Monk.
We’ve learned that there are very few WBEZs out there. Chicagoans should appreciate their radio gold! And we’ve learned to mellow into an evening with Lady Day, or Downtown Deb, or whoever happens to be on. Dinner prep can get quite groovy. We’ve also opened a place in our hearts to radio beyond public radio.
Here in Florence, that means Coastal Radio, a local station that promises to play the pop hits of today and yesterday. It’s also the local emergency station. Coastal Oregon lives in constant threat of a tsunami and Coastal Radio occasionally hands out helpful tips, like: know your evacuation route and make a communications plan. A category 9 earthquake could hit the coast at any moment; be informed. Now—back to the hits.
When I cannot get as chilled out as Downtown Deb, I occasionally retreat to Coastal Radio’s froth and folly. They never disappoint. This evening they played Thin Izzy’s “The boys are back in town,” immediately followed “Crash into me,” by Dave Matthews Band. Next up: Miranda Lambert’s “Fastest girl in town”, followed by “Hollywood” by Michael Buble. A few commercials were broken up by a safety reminder on tips for flying your kite (emergency radio tips! not in a storm, not near a telephone line!) and then back to the hits. You know, the hits—like “rhythm is a dancer” by SNAP! and “I’m here for the party” by Gretchen Wilson, and “wrecking ball,” by Smiley Miley, and “All I really want to do,”—which is a Dylan song, I think, but they played the cover by the Byrds.
Coastal Radio is like a parade of all the embarrassing songs in your music library that you hope your friends wont find when they’re shuffling through your music. You have some excuse for buying that album—it was a joke with a cousin, you needed it for a school project and you found it on super sale. But the excuse doesn’t matter. That song is in your library now, and you even kind of like it.
Coastal Radio is an all-you-can-hear buffet. It’s a city-wide garage sale. Coastal Radio—and all local radio—is a musical adventure, and you never know what’s coming up next.
Just like travel nursing.