No longer using his cheap Philips clock radio for home use, Graham took the hollow piece of plastic to his work office, set in a community college near Los Angeles. He turned on the Philips to a couple of FM stations he regularly listened to and got ZERO reception. He knew the little clock radio was weak at home, but not this weak. This was simply ridiculous. AM was even worse. He couldn’t receive any signals. He wondered how his beloved Grundig S350, the radio he had recently fallen in love with, would fare in his office. The next day he tried it and to his dismay its performance was seriously compromised. To be sure, its reception was far superior to his Philips’ but nonetheless something was awry. A surge of panic ticked inside his gut, and he felt the blood pulsing in his temples as he sat at his office desk, studying several websites on reception.
Eventually, Graham stumbled upon an Amazon reviewer who explained that business offices, often constructed of thick concrete walls, tinfoil insulation, and crammed with fluorescent lights, printers, computers, copy machines, etc., produced so much interference as to disable even the best radios.
Graham was disheartened. Up to now, his radio quest had led him to believe that he could find a radio that would overcome even the most adversarial conditions. He hadn’t given up on his quest. He did more research and stumbled across RadioIntel, a website dedicated to radio reviews and news. RadioIntel gave him hope that the Holy Grail was out there. In studying the website, which he did several times a day, he discerned the clear difference between analog and digital radios. Perhaps that was the problem. His radios were analog. He needed something digital. He then embarked upon buying several new digital radios on eBay and Amazon. He bought several Degen, Kaito, Tecsun, Eton, and Sangean models, spending over a couple thousand dollars. They all performed admirably at home, but when he took them to work their reception was seriously compromised. If anything, he discovered, the digitals performed even worse as they appeared more vulnerable to interference than his analogs.
Graham began to fret over his radios’ “failing” more than anything else in his life. He felt his quest to listen to the perfect radio was being hampered by hostile forces and concluded that there was a war going on. Forces were at work to impede his radio listening and only through diligence could he make his counterattack.
One day, impatient and discouraged that another batch of radios had not come in the mail from eBay and Amazon, he went to the electronics store, the same one where he had purchased his Tivoli PAL and Grundig S350, and decided to have a talk with Amir. The salesman had become a soothing presence in Graham’s life.
But alas, the opposite was not true. As soon as Graham entered the electronics store, he saw Amir rush to his manager and ask permission to take a break in the back room. In that moment it became clear to Graham that Amir was avoiding him and Graham was overcome with shame and embarrassment because he realized then that his radio obsession had gotten the best of him.
He needed to find a cure, he needed to satisfy himself with his configuration of radios throughout his home and work office to the point that he could lay his radio obsession to rest. But to his despair, he found he had entered a world from which there was no return. “My God,” he thought to himself as he stood forlorn in the electronics store. “My obsession is incurable.”