The Midlife With Clover Stroud: My Digital Radio

The Midlife With Clover Stroud: My Digital Radio

In her column for SheerLuxe, journalist and author Clover Stroud talks about how her digital radio  – with its ability to transport her from her kitchen table to around the world – has become one of her most prized possessions…

Last night I heard jazz in New York; the night before I was in Havana, listening to salsa. At breakfast, it was flamenco in Seville, but by lunch time, I’d whipped to Russia, for some folk music. This evening, I’ve got my heart set on a bit of country music in Nashville, but I could change my mind, at the last moment, and zip to Romania for a bit of Balkan beat-box. In fact, I can go anywhere my heart takes me, at the flick of a button, without leaving my kitchen in Oxfordshire.

In real life, I spend a lot of time at home. I have five kids and as a freelance writer, my working life is often spent at the kitchen table. It’s convenient, but can get claustrophobic too; I crave freedom and wide-open spaces, something motherhood often deprives you of. I spent much of my twenties and early thirties running away, quite literally, to places like Texas and Russia, but for the moment, I can’t do that so easily. My digital radio, however, lets me go to all those places in my head, at the same time I’m cooking lasagne for the kids or helping out with homework.  I bought the radio two years ago, and it’s no exaggeration to say it’s changed my life.

I also know I’m not alone in finding the news of the past couple of years increasingly depressing, to say nothing of confusing. Until 2016, I got most of my news from the radio, which was always on in the kitchen, a voice of reason over the chaos of family life with five kids. The Brexit vote in 2016 horrified me, and then came Trump. I vividly remember standing in my kitchen, listening to Hilary Clinton’s resignation speech after Trump had been voted in, with tears streaming down my face. Like so many of us, I was stunned that a misogynist who boasted he could “grab ‘em by the pussy” would soon be holding one of the most powerful positions in the world, and that there would not, as I’d excitedly told my teenage daughter the previous day, soon be the first female president in America.

Suddenly, I silenced the news and switched off my radio. I craved music and escape, not political rhetoric and the swirling confusion of faker and faker news that seemed to have engulfed the airwaves. Of course, I could always listen to music on my phone, but in my battle against anxiety (is there anyone out there who isn’t suffering right now?) I was also really trying to pick up my phone less often.

Instead, a digital radio allows me to whip around the globe, tuning in to funny local radio stations anywhere I fancy. It’s wholly liberating, and has changed the atmosphere of grim news in the kitchen at home. My elder daughter listens to a Spanish station to practice for her GCSEs, while my youngest daughter likes tuning in to listen to reggae from Jamaica. My toddler son has a surprising taste for Scottish jigs and reels, and the baby is soothed by jazz. I’ll always take myself back to west Texas, since I lived there in my twenties, and regularly tune in to a station called The Ranch, whose jingle is “Texans, outlaws and legends”. It sure makes a change from Jon Humphries grilling politicians about the next fiasco they’ve cooked up, and it means the world is, quite literally at my fingers tips all day.
Clover Stroud is the author of The Wild Other: a memoir of love, adventure and how to be brave. She is writing a memoir of motherhood, due out in spring 2020 with Transworld. Follow her on Instagram at @clover.stroud

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