Turn on the Radio: An Old-School Way to Upgrade Your Drive Time
Commuting is a slog if you haven’t found a way to turn drive time into chill time. Upgrade your commute with one of the most old-school tools in the book: radio. Take a cue from National Radio Day on Aug. 20 and lift yourself above the gridlock with a human-powered radio show tailored to your interests.
Ways to listen
While your coworkers and friends have all hopped on Sirius and XM satellite radio, finding your niche on local radio can be just the lift you need at the end of the day. Radio’s not quite the dying breed you might imagine it to be. According to the FCC there are more than 15,500 AM and FM licensed broadcast radio stations in the United States as of summer 2017.
Granted, commercial media conglomerates have taken over vast swaths of airspace, and the mainstream listening experience can feel, as Yogi Berra famously said, like déjà vu all over again. But college radio, nonprofit radio and community radio are all great ways to discover a unique local experience.
College radio is the obvious choice if you’re into discovering new music beyond the charts, and nonprofit is a great place to explore music you never got around to listening to like world music, folk or classical. These stations are a brilliant choice if your local DJs have a talent for curating fresh material. They’re also more likely to delve much deeper into the interesting, unique people and activities going on in your neck of the woods.
And there’s a lot more than music on the radio. Beyond the typical commercial radio breakfast/morning shows, news and weather spots, sports roundups and request shows lies the really interesting territory. Look to local and nonprofit radio for shows that take you there. Talk shows, radio dramas, education programming, entertainment and comedy shows and live performances turn your commute into a thought-provoking, inspiring break from the grind.
There’s another good reason to listen to radio in the car. Amber Alerts and silver alerts about missing persons and weather alerts keep you posted about people and problems you might encounter during your drive. You can be a more involved citizen if you’re aware of developing situations around you.
Upgrade your drive time
If you’re driving an older vehicle with an older radio that’s not so easy on the ears, you’ll be glad to hear that upgrading doesn’t have to cost an arm and leg. The best car stereos of 2017 can get you listening for just a few hundred dollars.
What about moving all the way up to a touchscreen infotainment system? Aftermarket infotainment systems are another affordable option. Systems like the Pioneer AppRadio 4 let your fingers fly over a color touchscreen to control audio streaming, navigation, hands-free calling and more.
An aftermarket infotainment system lets you place make calls and play music from your smartphone via Bluetooth, a much safer way to multitask while you drive. Many systems offer voice-activated controls, so you never have to touch your phone. For the most flexibility, look for compatibility with systems like Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
A final word to the wise: if you find you just have to finish the last few minutes of your show once you’ve arrived at your destination, remember that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. You’ll drain your car battery if you listen for a long time with the car turned off. The more powerful your car stereo, the faster it will drain your battery, so avoid marathon listening sessions when the car’s turned off.
Time for a new car?
If your car is much over a decade old, it might be time to consider upgrading more than just your radio. PenFed auto loan financing offers competitive rates and member benefits that — like a great radio show — add value to your purchase and convenience to your commute. Then you can turn off your worries and turn up the radio at the end of every day. Happy driving!