How did I survive long trips before satellite radio?

Published 8:25 am Wednesday, July 18, 2012

This past weekend, I had the neat opportunity to spend a few days with my dad. He works for a company that owns the newspaper in Bay St. Louis, Miss., which is just a stone’s throw away from the casino resorts on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Because he had to be in the area anyway, I decided to take the five-hour drive over to spend some time with him. (Okay, and maybe to enjoy a little gambling, too.)

I have never been a huge music fan. If I tried hard enough, I could probably easily name all of the CDs I’ve ever owned. I’ve never had an iPod or another MP3 player, and the only portable CD player I’ve ever owned was a prize from a Quiz Bowl competition in high school.

So how do I survive a five-hour drive by myself, with hardly any music? That’s easy — I just boot up my XM Satellite Radio.

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Obviously, when I’m driving around in Bainbridge, I try to support our local radio stations whenever I can. But eventually that signal fades and I don’t usually feel like scanning the dial to find some music I like. It’s a lot easier to just switch on the XM radio and go quickly to my favorite Eighties station (Channel 8) or ESPN Radio (Channel 84). On my drive back early Monday morning, I was able to listen to the entire broadcast of ESPN’s “Mike and Mike in the Morning.” I don’t know how those guys can do that show at that time of day, every day.

During those really long trips, I can sometimes listen to an entire MLB or NHL game on one of the higher-numbered stations. Because the satellite feed is based on the home team’s radio market, it’s pretty amusing to listen to Braves games when they are on the road and their opponent’s radio team is broadcasting.

Another one of my favorite stations is Channel 72, “On Broadway.” I’m sure it should come as no surprise that I like to bellow out an Andrew Lloyd Webber or Stephen Sondheim classic every now and then. I’ve probably confused many a semi-truck driver on the interstate who looks over and sees me tossing my head back or waving my right arm up like Luciano Pavarotti. However, I think what I enjoy even more is when I hear a song that I don’t recognize from a show that I’ve never heard of, and think to myself, “Hey, I like this!” It’s definitely helped me to open up and explore new things.

Every so often I’ll listen to some of the talk-radio stations (both right-wing and left-wing — I like to be well informed), but I’ve started to do that less often nowadays. I would listen to the classical music stations more often, but I’ve found that kind of music tends to put me to sleep. That’s not usually the best plan of action when you’re driving 70 mph on the interstate.

Thanks to satellite radio, those long solitary drives don’t seem all that long at all. Now if only there was some way to listen to it during those occasional long government meetings!

Justin Schuver is the managing editor of The Post-Searchlight. You can email him at