How On Demand Is Cheating Our Kids

In an age when it’s too easy to become a Ninja Netflix addict, stealthily clicking “next episode” on the iPad at 2am, knowing that you’ll regret it, and not being able to resist doing so, because it’s RIGHT THERE, right NOW, on demand, it’s hard to imagine that there was a time when life was so completely not on demand.

There was a time when television and radio controlled what and when you watched, and listened to.

When On Demand didn’t exist.

Let me take you back. To pre-1981, and before MTV even existed.

In 1979, music had become an important part of my life. Big important. I’d hear a song on the radio, love it, and then have to wait for the next time they’d play it to find out the name of the band, if they didn’t announce it afterwards.

And, they usually didn’t announce it afterwards, as the practice was to introduce it beforehand, play it, and then fade out the music while the DJ said what he thought about it while immediately going into the next introduction. The next new song.

Back then, the radio made or broke bands. Enough airtime meant that we – the public – would have a shot at hearing it, before, or after, school hours.

Enough airtime meant that we’d have a shot at knowing what the band’s name was. It meant bicycling to the local Walgreens after babysitting for 8 hours to afford a purchase of the next coveted LP. It meant bicycling home, LP mostly-safely tucked into a backpack, finally gotten home, and then, it meant a dedication to listening to the entire record. Back, and front. Over and over again.

Ah. Can you even remember listening to the entire record? Front and back? I think we’re missing out, a bit, now….

We put up holiday lights, on our ceilings, because we didn’t have You Tube, or anything else, and our holiday lights were beyond festive. We made magic. Before You Tube and MTV magic existed, even. We saved up to see bands, live. To buy their records.

Teenage girl lying on floor 80s floyd_edited-3

I miss those days.

Back then, it meant that liking a record was an investment. That when you “LOVED” a band, that it mattered.

Years later, when tapes came out, and you could drive, it meant that liking a song meant rewinding that tape in the car, to the song that you needed to hear again. And again, and again.

It meant that when your parents told you that your stereo – that took up half of the wall because you had speakers and an amp and a tape thing and a record player on top – was too loud, that you could put on hubcap-sized earphones. Shut them out.

And just listen.

It meant that when you found out how much you loved U2 and Billy Idol, that you’d spend hours in front of the radio, waiting to record your new favorite song, and that, often times, the DJ spoke over the beginning and the ending of it.

Which meant that your favorite songs, before you could bicycle to Walgreens and purchase the record, were listened to with a DJ’s voice wrecking the beginning and end. It meant HOURS, sitting in front of your too-large stereo, waiting to tape your favorite song.

It meant laser light shows. If you’ve never seen one, I highly recommend it.

Mostly though, being raised on the radio means that we were, actually, raised on the radio.

Being raised on the radio was special, in a way that being raised On Demand, is not. It means that I want to teach my son the art of patience, and practice, and practicing patience.

It means that I will never let go of how it felt, waiting with anticipation for a station to play A Song. It means that although we live in a life of On Demand, that I’ll do my very best to teach my son that the best things in life are not clicked with a button.

That they’re worth waiting for.

That they’re not on demand.

Kristi and Tucker November 2009_edited-1Kristi Campbell is a semi-lapsed career woman with about 18 years of marketing experience in a variety of national and global technology companies.  More recently, she was a co-host on a hilarious (and under funded) weekly radio show.  Once her son was born, she became the mom who almost always leaves the house in either flip-flops or Uggs, depending on the weather.

While she does work part-time, her passion is writing and drawing really stupid-looking pictures for her blog http://www.findingninee.com.  Finding Ninee (pron. nine-ee for her son’s pronunciation of the word airplane) started due to a memoir, abandoned when Kristi read that a publisher would rather shave a cat than read another memoir.  Its primary focus is humor and support in a “Middle World,” one where the autism spectrum exists but a diagnosis does not.

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32 comments

  1. You’ve summed everything I’ve ever thought and felt about the way everything is available at our fingertips these days. And you took me back to a time when I would had the tape ready in my radio, record already pushed down (simultaneously with the pause button), my finger hovering over pause every time a new song was going to be played just in case it was THE ONE . . . And how angry I would feel when that DJ bombed the end of the song with their incessant chatter.

    But the pure elation when I managed to record my favorite (at the moment) song from front to end and now had the power to play it WHENEVER I WANTED was pure magic.

    • YES to the record button and pause button pushed down, finger hovering over it hoping hoping hoping it was going to be played so that we could capture it. I sortof miss those days.

  2. Oh wow my friend. Our kids are totally spoiled by the whole on demand. Part of me thanks the Good Lord and all that is Holy since that means Boo has 24/7 Sophia but the part of me who remembers the clock radio with the tape player next to it just trying to make the ultimate mix tape at 12? Those were the days.

    • They’re SO spoiled right? I mean, in some ways, yeah, convenience is awesome, but in some ways, it’s sad that everything they want as far as music and TV goes is right there, right now. I miss the way it used to be sometimes. And it makes me sad that Tucker will never know what it’s like to have to be at the mercy of the radio to give him his favorite song!

  3. I feel old, and I was only born in ’84. That meant skipping the LP and 8-track era and going straight to the rewindable tapes. And then… the walkman. Ahhh. That saved me from listening to whatever crap was on the bus’s radio, and being able to listen to music on the walk home too. That was so great. Tape recorders were my jam. I’d record anything. Not just songs from the radio, but songs from commercials, or songs from TV shows. Songs off of movies that I loved. I had a ton of stuff. And I know the frustration of the DJ being a total dick and never telling you who played the songs you loved. I waited YEARS AND YEARS for something like Soundhound to be invented (for my smartphone). I freaking love that thing. Hell, after everything we suffered though, we deserve that. Ha!

    • OMG I cannot believe that I forgot to mention the walkman. What a freedom that thing was, strapped on the strap of our lame old fannypack. Sigh. And yeah, I suppose we DO deserve Soundhound. Still though, I think I need to teach my kid the art of patience. Thanks so much!

  4. Our kids will work so much harder for the pleasure that comes after delayed gratification. I always associate two songs together because my friend recorded them back to back from the radio. So long ago. This was great, Kristi!

  5. My kids cannot figure out that when we hear a song on the radio, I can’t rewind it, and they can’t just choose what we will listen to. And I so remember the days of calling the radio station to find out who sang a song!!!

    • Ah Sarah. The days of calling a radio station. I miss them. Once, I won a t-shirt and a “special prize.” I was beyond excited thinking that the special prize must be like a tape of a new band or something. It was an ice scraper. I’m still pissed.

  6. Reading this made me feel warm and fuzzy and at the same time it was almost painful, I think that that’s what nostalgia feels like. It brought back forgotten objects and the emotions connected to them – like the little rectangular pink stereo which was also a tape recorder. And the point you make about on demand, patience and our kids – spot on and brilliant. Fantastic collaboration.

    Jen – LOVE the new design and thanks for bringing us such quality posts!

    • I love Jen’s new design too!!! And I feel all warm and fuzzy remembering those days, although it makes me sad, too, to know that when I tell my son about them, he will almost find it hard to even believe me, things are so different.

  7. Oh my goodness! Such wonderful flashbacks….um memories!! I had the huge stereo with the turntable and the plastic dustcover which I had plastered with radio station and band stickers!! It had a tuner and an eight track player so when cassettes came out, my dad got me not only a tape player but a double player and recorder that wired up to my stereo!! Yep I was spoiled! I also had the two foot tall speakers and the ones the lit up and pulsed with the beat and the base!!

    As for the laser light shows, anyone who has not seem Pink Floyd done in a laser light show is missing out!! Yep, been there, done that!! Our local planetarium used to host them! The dome ceiling made it the earliest surround sound an a trip to just lay back and watch!!

    • OMG I forgot about band stickers!!! You were so spoiled with the tuner. AND 8-track. And I cannot believe that you saw Pink Floyd as a laser light show. It was my first one, and my favorite, to this day. Our planetarium used to do them, too!!! (denver).

  8. Truth: I don’t miss rewinding tapes at all. And life without TV schedules, commercials and aIting for my favourite song on the radio–I think it’s pretty awesome. But interesting take… And beautifully written.

    • I miss it. But thanks, and you’re right. It IS awesome. I just miss that my son will never know to what I am referring, when I reminisce.

  9. I definitely think that kids miss out with all the instant gratification-and it’s not just music. Movies, tv shows, and music available whenever you want it-it really makes me wonder… Great post Kristi-I totally relate to so much in this! Except I never had the hubcap sized headphones…

    • Well you missed out on the hubcap sized headphones but the rest of it? SO SO glad that you can relate to it all, Sarah. It makes me a little sad how “easy” and on demand life is these days….

  10. This is great, Kristi! This took me back to 3 albums right off the bat. Boston, Van Halen and Journey (all of their firsts) and that was the title to each. I would listen front to back over and over! The most current group I still do that with is anything Enya puts out. Great Memory Lane trip and yes kids are totally missing out! Awesome read as always, Kristi! 🙂

  11. Do you remember KVIL with Ron Chapman? If not, it might have been a Texas station primarily. My mom would listen to it every morning while she was getting ready. All the 80’s music I ever heard came from her room. I can’t even think of a song from that time and not picture me in my room, the smell of my house, the god-awful green carpet under my feet. Weird how music does that.

    hubcap-sized earphones….hahahaha! So true.

    • Beth, I don’t remember KVIL but maybe it was local? I remember KBPI Rocks the Rockies, with Steve Cooper!!!
      AND yeah, music takes us back. Scent, too. Like RL Polo? I remember Sophomore year.

  12. Ah, the days of waiting with my finger over the record button in case the next song was my favorite. Hearing a song on the radio is still exciting. My kids have their favorite songs on their iPods, but they still get pumped when one comes on the radio – it’s like a special treat. And I had those headphones – I used to put them on and pretend I was singing in a recording studio like the Bradys.

    • Yes, Dana, yes!!! I still get pumped when one comes on the radio. There’s something extra special about it NOT being on demand.

  13. Ah, this post rekindled so many memories. As a kid, listening to Radio Luxenborg (suspect I’ve spelt that wrong!) in bed at night on a tinny transistor radio hidden under the blankets. Tape recording favorite songs off the radio, trying to avoid the DJ’s chatter. Rushing to the record shop to buy a vinyl single and then playing it into oblivion (A-side and B-side) into the early hours. Those were the days. Thanks for the memories.

    • Aw, Gary, thanks for remembering the same ones that I do. I feel sad that our kids will miss out on all of the waiting, rushing to a record shop, all of it!!!

  14. Oh man, this really takes me back! And I totally agree – there is sooo much that is lost in today’s fast-paced everything available at their fingertips world. Thanks for reminding me of the good ole days!

    • There really IS so much lost, Carin, right? I mean, our kids will never get the anticipation of waiting for anything, and it makes me a little sad!!!

  15. […] over at Raised on the Radio and wrote this fantastic piece that talks about how our kids are being spoiled by today’s technology and the world of instant gratification. Speaking of Finding Ninee, Liz who pens Considerings wrote a fantastic piece for the Our Land […]

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