Lesson from Hurricane Sandy #2: Everyone should own a radio.

I should have known better: We’d lost power on our block for a week after Hurricane Irene the year before. But the neighbors were kind enough to let us piggy back on their generator, so we could charge our phones there, and it was of fun “roughing it” for that warm week in August. I mean, we just ate out a lot, since all the stores were open. The kids hung out outside, or played cards in the evening.

But after Sandy, we woke up to not just a physical disaster, but a complete communications void. No power, sure. But also no cell phone service. You couldn’t even get a text through. The last Facebook post I’d seen before I lost my cell coverage was from a friend who lived a couple of miles east, in Belle Harbor. It read:

Rockaway is burning. Please help.

And there we were, without a radio. The one we had was a big old boombox, and it was, of course, floating somewhere in the basement. We had no idea what was happening, anywhere, or how far the disaster went (was it just us in Rockaway?) or what, if anything, was being done to help. No land lines, no cell, no internet, no tv (what we would have done for a little NY1!), no newspapers, and no freaking radio.

I snagged an old walkman a few days later from my mom, and spent much of the remaining month plugged into it. And this tech devotee gained a new appreciation for good, old fashioned analog, even if the news was confusing, and real information was, especially for the first few days, very hard to find.

Anyway, having spent the better part of a month with the radio, following not only the disaster coverage but also the 2012 presidential elections, I’m now a radio devotee. Yes, I still stream music and podcasts, but I spend my morning with good old fashioned real-time broadcasts. And after free riding on WNYC for so many years, I finally became a sustaining member after I realized I’d have been completely lost without it. They covered Rockaway better than anyone, and kept covering us long after the rest of the media had moved on.

Obviously,  I finally got a radio (this one):

It has great reception, runs on the smell of a battery (and has a hand crank in case of a power emergency), takes up little to no space, and travels with me from room to room to garden without any wires, bluetooth connectivity issues, or recharging needed. And I love that it has dials instead of buttons.

It’s technically an emergency radio, but I use it all the time now. You’ll never be packed away in the basement, little friend.

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