casually driving home, wondering if my radio’s trying to kill me.

I mostly love the time I spend alone in my car. I listen to the radio. I drive through this city I love. I clear my head. I let my mind wander. Except….. 

Does any other Philadelphia-area radio listener have this problem? Because, listen, I adore my local radio stations…

UNLESS it’s between the hours of 11pm and midnight and I get in the car and turn the ignition key and it’s fucking “Echoes with John Diliberto,” a show dedicated to ambient, electronic-y, trancey music. Before you go hating, the thing is, under normal circumstances, that’s a musical genre I actually kind of dig. You know. For like, working at home when you need background music without lyrics, or for that one time a year when I decide I should try meditation again. UNLESS it’s late at night and you’re alone in a car driving through a quiet, deserted city, filled with snowdrifts and howling winds. Because that’s the moment when you start to think, huh, this is the kind of music that usually plays during the moments on TV cop shows RIGHT BEFORE SOMEONE GETS MURDERED. 

11pm: leave work, close up shop.
11:02 pm: start car, alone, late at night.
11:03 pm: “Echoes with John Diliberto? Ugh. Okay. Whatever, XPN.”
11:04 pm: “eh. Maybe I don’t hate this.”
11:06 pm: “Is every song on this show taken directly from the soundtrack of ‘ominous moments on “Scandal” when some crazy spy shit is about to go horribly wrong for everyone?'”
11:08 pm: “Theoretically, this is relaxing ambient music and all I’m wondering is when I’m going to get kidnapped. LOOK AT HOW RELAXED I AM RIGHT NOW.”
11:12 pm: “Is there anyone in the car with me? Russian madman with a gun and a flash drive filled with military secrets?”
11:16 pm: “Hello? Mr. Kidnapper? It’s, uh, Katherine…. How… are you?”
11:19 pm: Check backseat for criminal masterminds at a stop light. Find only empty coffee cups and other assorted debris. Breathe easier. Still. Perhaps murder is wearing excellent camouflage outfit made entirely of crumpled Dunkin Donuts bags. I’m not calling it safe just yet. 
11:22 pm: “…. How is this song STILL playing?” 
11:24 pm: “This song also works as background music for sex scene with ‘ultimately doomed blonde victim’ or ‘rogue cop with a dangerous past’, come to think of it. Like… shower sex music. Before the camera cuts to just like, OH GOD ALL THE BLOOD IN THE SHOWER.”
11:25 pm: “I should write for TV. Shit. I could totally do that. Right? So that I can call my Netflix addiction ‘research.'”  
11:26 pm: “I hate this song. I need to change the station. Just do it. Just change the station! What is wrong with you?” 
11:27 pm: “I actually found a parking space two minutes ago but now I can’t leave until I hear the name of this band.” 
11:29 pm: “Is this song seriously still playing?” 
11:31 pm: cut to interview with a band called ‘Bombay Dub Orchestra’, which sounds exactly like you think it does.

godDAMN it, echoes with john diliberto. you’re the worst.*



*that’s a lie. public radio listeners, back me up: Mike McGrath with “You Bet Your Garden.” THAT guy is actually the worst. 
** side note: When I was in high school and had just seen “Donnie Darko,” my friend Bryan bought me the soundtrack because my car had a 6-CD changer. NEVER AGAIN. 

9 thoughts on “casually driving home, wondering if my radio’s trying to kill me.

  1. So funny, so true. I remember in college, telling my pottery instructor how in high school whenever John DiLiberto came on (right after dinner) I’d be like, “MOM! TURN IT OFF!!!” The instructor told me I was so funny and then she kept walking by me saying, “MOM! TURN IT OFFFFFF!!!!!!!!” The only thing worse might be Prairie Home Companion. Oh, and? Echos isn’t on the air where I live now!

  2. JESUS! Why did I click on that Donnie Darko link?? Especially after watching both “True Detective” AND “The Following” tonight…😳😱

  3. I don’t live in that area anymore, but when I was going to West Chester I did have a similar problem. No good background music to have on while I was studying. Now, of course, this was back from 1997-2000 so stations have likely changed, but still. If you have a phone or Mp3 player, I suggest using that as backup. That’s always my go-to plan. Good luck and keep the posts coming. I find your writing highly amusing and it puts a smile on my face for part of the day. 😊

  4. I’ve never been in Philadelphia long enough to get a flavor for the local radio, but when I was in high school the bane of my musical existence was “Sunday Night Slow Jams.” SNSJ seemed to start earlier and earlier every week and consisted of the worst slow wanna be R&B songs the 80s could muster. The only thing more painful than the music itself was the call in dedications, which always went a little something like:

    “Hey this Anna calling to dedicate this song to my boo Jeremy. He’s in jail right now, but I know he’s listening. This one’s for you baby, I just know when you get out everything’s going to be alright again. Love you boo.”

    1. Stop saying “boo,” this is not a ghost story.
    2. It’s probably not going to be alright again when he gets out of jail.
    3. He’s definitely not listening to SNSJ while in prison.

    I feel your pain,


  5. I’m never up past 11:00, so I don’t know the John Diliberto show. But I often find myself in the car at 11:00 on Saturday mornings, and whenever I hear Mike McGrath use the term “cats and kittens” as he pathetically tries to emulate the Car Talk guys, I want to gag.

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