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Heard on the Radio

Cruising down the road, and an old song plays over the airways, taking us back to another place and time. Whatever we’ve heard on the radio has an uncanny staying power you can’t forget. Music, or even stories, forge our memories.

With nostalgia — or not — writers took to the radio as a signal for crafting stories. Flipping through the stories in this collection is like dialing in different stations. Hope you tune into some favorites or surprises!

The following is based on the September 10, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes something heard on the radio.

PART I (10-minute Read)

Journeys of a Kind by Saifun Hassam

It was maybe in 1967.
Sitting on the steps outside the kitchen.
Summer sunset.
Farm fields, wheat rustling in the slight breeze.
Great music pouring out of the transistor radio
Something about a guitar man, wandering the lands.
She cried and she laughed – just like the song said.

She’s now 70?
Those faraway crazy days listening to
Bob Dylan; Peter, Paul, and Mary; Joan Baez.

Now it’s the Intenet.
Vivaldi; and Dvorak’s “New World Symphony”.
Great mix of classical guitar and jazz piano by Claude Bolling;
Jazz of Michael Silverman;
And the haunting notes of Eric Tingstad’s “Badlands”.

🥕🥕🥕

Tuning In by Norah Colvin

On sheep and cattle stations in outback Queensland in the pre-television and digital era, when mail and groceries were delivered fortnightly, the party line telephone and radio linked families with the outside world.

Mealtimes were scheduled to conclude with news broadcasts. The chatter and clatter ceased the moment chimes announced the start. Graziers inclined towards the radio, concentrating to extract words from the crackle, hopeful of positive stock reports, promising weather forecasts and news of world events.

Unable to affect, but affected by, the situations reported, the graziers returned to the day’s tasks, hopeful of better news next report.

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“We Interrupt This Programme” by R. V. Mitchell

Six-year-old, Alice was dancing with her doll to the music on the radio. Suddenly, the music stopped and a man’s voice said, “We interrupt this programme, with an important bulletin. The United States’ fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii has been attacked by air and naval forces of the Empire of Japan. I repeat, the American fleet has been attacked in Hawaii.”

Alice ran to tell her mother.

“Mother, the Umpire of Japan attacked Hawee.”

Her mother instantly went pale, and stared out into their Nebraska pasture.

“Mother, where is Hawee?” the little girl asked.

“Too close, Darling. Too close.”

🥕🥕🥕

On the Radio by Colleen M. Chesebro

“Welcome to the Mercury Theatre on Air…” the voice echoed from the radio in the next room.

Rosemary stayed at the sink. She scrubbed hard at a burned spot in the pan. It was her turn to wash the dishes. Meanwhile, her brother and parents relaxed at the table, sipping coffee after dinner.

“…An unusual object has fallen on a farm in Grover’s Mill, New Jersey…” The radio sputtered with static.

Grover’s Mill? That’s where I live! Rosemary felt fear.

The announcer’s voice declared, “…It’s the War of the Worlds. Is there anybody out there?”

The radio went silent.

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Radio Ga-Ga by Tyler M Deal

Narrator: Nearly paralyzed with fear, she inches closer to the open window. The cold, night air chills her skin. Closer… closer… hands trembling, she reaches for the window seal. She swallows hard and looks out. A shadow in the darkness; a gruesome disfigured hand reaches up and… and…

Woman: Ahhhhhhhh!

[Silence]

Announcer: We will pause here briefly with this ad for Radium Water. Radium Water, it’ll cure what ails ya and leave you with a healthy, vibrant glow. Radium Water! Available wherever NukEx products are sold.

Narrator: And now… for the thrilling conclusion of… The Withered Hand of Rrrrrrrrasputin!

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On Being a Believer by Judy Marshall

If you found inspiration today from God’s word, please support our broadcast with a donation…

Grandma rose early Wednesday mornings to hear Dr. Samuel preach. Her battered old radio sat on the kitchen table.

KRST-AM crackled from 8:00 to 8:30 with Dr. Samuel’s soothing voice. Wednesday’s were almost better than Sunday services she attended. She felt renewed from the singing and fellowship of her fellow worshipers.

From these inspirations, she wrote checks. She tithed with a monthly check as God directed  She donated to Dr. Samuel and bought his books.

Grandma truly was a believer. RIP with God, Grandma.

🥕🥕🥕

October Road by Liz Husebye Hartmann

The sun was a memory, the road a straight line swallowed by an empty horizon. This relic of a rental was so old, the radio was one speaker, with five buttons and a dial to select AM stations. Too late even for radio ministry, too early for the farm report; he cranked open the window for the wind’s whistle.
Rubbing his eyes with one hand, he cupped the wheel with the other.

“Joe? Are you there?”

He started, cranked the window shut to hear the radio

“Mary?”

Her voice was clear and strong, as if she was still alive.

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It Had to Be a Sign by Anne Goodwin

“Living Doll” crescendoed as Steve pushed through the swing door into Theatre Six. Three figures in scrubs, and no instruments in sight except the whiteboard marker pens held, like microphones, to their mouths. It had to mean something, Jerry dancing in the middle, the father he never had.

He used to jive with his mother when his big sisters were at Guides. “Did he really do that, Mummy? Did Cliff Richard lock a lady in a trunk so no-one else could have her?”

Now he has a house, a cellar, bolts across the door. A girlfriend, threatening to leave.

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In And Out On The Radio by Hugh W. Robeerts

“Hello,” said Juliet, knocking the side of the ostentatious object, “Who’s in there?”

“Come away,” demanded her mother.

“How can all those people be in there? Why don’t they come out?”

“Don’t be silly! They can’t come out. They’re not inside the radio. They’re broadcasting from the BBC.”

“I want to broadcast from the BBC and come out on the radio,” demanded Julia.

Forty-one years later.

“Today on BBC Radio 4, we’re interviewing actress, Juliet Greenwood,” announced the radio presenter. “Good morning, Ms Greenwood. Are the rumours true?”

“Yes, they are,” declared the radio soap opera star. “I’m gay.”

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True Radio Memory by Sue Spitulnik

A phone call on a weeknight from my UPS driver son wasn’t a common thing. I asked, “What’s up?”

“Every place I made a delivery today the ladies were crying about some DJ dying. Who was he and were you crying too?”

“On my God, yes. Bill Coffey from WBEE dropped dead yesterday after the show. Terry and Billy told us this morning. We all cried together.”

“Did you ever meet this guy?”

“No, but I knew him well. Those DJ’s are my friends.”

“They don’t know you.”

“But I feel like I know them.”

“I don’t get it.”

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Lost Daughter by Charli Mills

Clementine heard her mother over the Stockton radio. She’d entered the small house at the edge of farm fields, picking up fallen produce in the road. Harvest trucks left a trail, speeding to city markets. Her landlady called the rental the Road Garden. Clem thought she meant “rose” and was disappointed to find weeds and a weeping willow. Her mother played Rambler on the banjo and Clem recognized the Tennessee picking popular among California cowboys. She recognized her mother’s name but not her voice. One day, maybe she’d meet the woman who abandoned her for a life of music.

🥕🥕🥕

On the Radio by Eliza Mimski

I’m sorry, so sorry
That I was such a fool
I didn’t know
Love could be so cruel…

Brenda Lee’s voice bled through the radio. The walls sagged, the lights dim with memory.

Marla could not turn back the hands of time. She was sorry. She had been a fool. And from her end, cruelty had entered into their break-up.
There was only one thing to do. She would buy new makeup. She would get a new haircut. She’d go to her aesthetician. She’d practice her coy smile in front of the mirror.

She would get her man back.

🥕🥕🥕

Songs One Can’t Forget by Frank Hubeny

“I hope the kids don’t remember that song you used to sing to them about the bird and the word.”

“I didn’t sing it for long. When they got older, I pretended to be the voice of their doll, Sweetie Baby.”

“You know, we still have that doll in case they ever want it.”

“It’s good to keep stuff like that. Actually some of those old songs aren’t any goofier than the ones they sing today. No wonder we’re all messed up.”

“At least the grand kids don’t know the song.”

“Unfortunately I sang it to them as well.”

🥕🥕🥕

Triggering the Howling Stage by Anne Goodwin

I considered myself happy, that final summer of my childhood, playing housewife, home alone. My mother away, securing my future, my dad at work, my brother at play. My chores complete, I’d doze off with the radio in the afternoon heat. Until a sentimental song kicked me into consciousness, ambushing me with feelings I didn’t recognise as mine. A howling thrusting from my bowels and discharging from my throat. An animal sound, alien, drowning the jingle, almost choking me. Arrhythmic breathing, such wild and weird wailing, it made me laugh. A dramatic overture before the symphony of weeping commenced.

🥕🥕🥕

OMG by Simon

A man was walking down the road thinking. He was listening to radio station, a hot news on the radio station, it said “Ghost writer exposed, he is none other than Sam from a small village in India, and we will be hearing his success story from him very soon, until then stay tuned.” Everyone celebrated and jumped and lifted him. He did not understood why they are behaving strange, his Mom came outside and gave him a spoon of sugar and said, “You idiot, you never told us you are writer.” Sam gasped and said, “OMG! I’m revealed!”

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Live Author Talk by M J Mallon

Those bloody motorbikes can’t they stop! 1 A.M. no chance I’ll get any sleep. Tomorrow’s the live show. Never done this before. What will it be like? I’ll soon know. Introverted writers, tonight at 9 p.m. I’ll talk live. Bound to be a problem with the connection. We’ll get there… I did it! I listen, damn, I can’t see my weird mannerisms, but I can hear them. Perhaps I should have had some water instead of that glass of wine, stupid faux pas, one or two!

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PART II (10-minute Read)

Radio Stories by Susan Zutautas

Dan Hill a Canadian pop singer/songwriter was on the radio telling the story of how “Sometimes When We Touch” came about.

A girl he liked was dating a football player and he wrote and sang her his song. She felt he was too intense for his age. Off he went hurt by her reply. He tucked away the song until he was older.

Working with Barry Mann one day he asked him to come up with music for his poem, not mentioning any of the history behind it. It came out in 1977 hitting #3 on the U.S. billboard.

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Heard on the Radio by Anita Dawes

I remember falling in love with a song
After hearing it coming from
my mum’s little Dansette radio
Indian Reservation
Years later I bought it on vinyl
Played it until it became paper-thin
The neighbours banging on the wall
Begging me to play something different
It’s strange how one song
Heard on a tiny radio
Can colour your life
To me the world suddenly
became wonky, off-kilter.
Why do people think they can take
what doesn’t belong to them
Changing Nations with their greed
Indian Reservation
remains one of my favourite songs
to this day
Played often…

🥕🥕🥕

Driving Me by Joanne Fisher

As she drove me home, she sang along to some song on the radio. I wasn’t even sure what it was. She glanced sideways at me and smiled.

“Hey this could be our song babe!’ she said, and then she abruptly began to sing again loud and off-key, as always. Our song? We had only been going out for two days now, and I wasn’t that sure if we were going to last, yet.

“Sure sweetie.” I replied with a half-smile. She laughed loudly and patted my leg.

“That’s my girl!” she exclaimed. And then she started singing again.

🥕🥕🥕

Radio Reboot by Bill Engleson

“He finally bought it?”

“Bloody miracle. Melania kept pounding away at ’em. Know what finally brought him around?”

“No idea.”

“The initials. DJT. She kept repeating FDR JFK DJT FDR JFK DJT.”

“Seriously?”

“Yup. Had him running around the bedroom chanting it. FDR JFK DJT. It was a hoot.”

“And he’s willing to go to the next level?”

“Bet your booties. Anything to get the geriatric vote back. And the younger demographic will be amused.”

“Not quite a fireside chat.”

“No, but ‘Tweet nothings from the Prez’ has a ring. Every radio station we can get. 7:00 am…sharp.”

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Mixed Media by JulesPaige

Even those stations that attempt to bring us enjoyment often spouting that they are the best – this is the icing on the cake – we’ll take care of you, we’ve surgically removed all of the calories. A line we fall for too easily because we sometimes just really want to be fooled. We want what was, that simpler time forgetting the long list of woes each preceding decade has had to deal with. And yet we still seek that sugar rush. Looking for a sweet life wanting music that soothes.

frosted, sugar, chilled?
media complicates things
with their bias views

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Good News on the Radio by H.R.R. Gorman

David wrote nervously at his desk. He scribbled numbers and added them to prepare other people’s taxes. The radio played in the background, droning out music and ads from a tinny speaker while David waited.

When the news came on he fiddled with a key on his ring. Bay of Pigs, Gulf of Tonkin, U2 spy planes: one day they’d go too far, and the red trigger would be pushed.

David was prepared. Years of food, fluorescent lighting to grow plants underground, a generator, barrels and barrels of diesel. Just give the word, radio, and he’d leave accounting forever.

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1938 CBS Mercury by Kerry E.B. Black

The rich-voiced announcer interrupted our background music with a report. A Professor from Jenning Observatory detected explosions on Mars.

I shared a nervous laugh. “Nothing to worry about, children. Let’s carve our pumpkins.”

The reporter interrupted again. A hideous monsters that had fallen from the skies. I bundled the kids close, jack-o-lanterns forgotten. We crept outside, but nothing disturbed the starry expanse overhead. No Martians. No attacks.

A neighbor asked if we were alright.

We whispered, “Martians are attacking New York.”

“You don’t say?”

We nodded.

“Way I see it, you shouldn’t listen to Orson Wells’ show. Charley McCarthy’s funnier.”

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Station To Station by Geof Le pard

‘Let’s have some music, Logan.’

‘There’s nothing worthwhile.’

‘That’s ridiculous. American has more stations than All India railways.’

‘But they’re vacuous. Not like Radio Three on the Beeb.’

‘You mean pretentious presenters widdling on about Bach’s innovative use of the semi-breve?’

‘Exactly. Better than some tight-trousered troubadour bemoaning his herpes.’

‘That’s your summation of a whole genre, is it? Go on…’

And now a word from our sponsors, Artic Deodorant…

‘See, just bloody adverts…’

‘Shush, you may learn something…’

It may be winter outside, but it’s always August under your armpits. Freshen up…

‘You’re right. Turn it off, Logan.’

🥕🥕🥕

Beyond  by D. Avery

They pulled the door shut against the snow squall. “We made it.”

He fumbled for a switch. “There’s still electricity.” Then the lights flickered out.

“Not surprising in this storm, but look, there’s wood, and there’s coals glowing in the fireplace. The owner must have preheated the cabin for us.” He soon had a fire blazing. She spotted a battery-powered radio.

Roads becoming impassable…

“Radio works… now for this lantern.”

Police have suspended their search for an escaped serial killer.

The lantern beam encircled them like a snare. Stepping from the shadowed edge of light, a silhouette took form.

🥕🥕🥕

Time in a Radio by Chel Owens

“The shadow knows…” cassette-crackles our road trip-bound car, forced upon us by ancient parents. I can’t wait for

“That was Mars, The Bringer of War…” intones the always-calm classical voice, soothing from my bedside speaker. I’ll never change to

“Help! I need somebody…” Another sort of Classic, crooning comfort. “Here comes your ghost again,” cannot be replaced by

“Video killed the radio star…” my teenage mouth moves along. Why kill art; why listen to anything but

“The shadow” bzzt “Mars” bzzt “diamonds and rust” bzzt “all that glitters is goooold” bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Dial broken, static cleared; I play them all.

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Music by FloridaBorne

The first time I heard the continental divide of music, I was at a stoplight that stayed red for so long it tried my patience.

“Bye Bye Miss American Pie…”

The light turned green just as the song began, and I shifted into first gear. I drove a Nash Metropolitan, not a Chevy, and there was no levee in sight.

Age 21, with an entire lifetime ahead of me, the song was screaming out a message I was much too young to understand.

It’s been almost 50 years. Will our republic lose control of the plane in this battle?

🥕🥕🥕

On The Radio by Donna Matthews

I drive across the lot and find a spot. I turn off the engine, head in, and scan quickly for an open seat and friendly face. New writing class jitters.

The instructor opens with the 19th 9/11 anniversary. 19 years! I still remember all that time ago sitting in traffic, hearing the news on the radio, and thinking how surely it was a terrible accident.

Our assignment is to imagine a moment from the perspective of someone there. This is horrifyingly simple. I picture the spouse picking up their car from the ferry dock among the hundreds still there.

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Now Why? by Reena Saxena

The road trip was taken against her wish.

A sense of foreboding descended on her, as they drove on the same zig-zag roads climbing up the mountains, but she controlled herself. Teenage children don’t listen anyway.

The familiar refrain of a song brought her out of her reverie.

“OMG! This is not possible. It’s the same song.”

“You enjoy old songs, Mom…”

“This radio channel closed down long back.”

The same figure in black stood on the roadside with an infant in her arms. She had stopped them a decade ago.

She’d died fifteen years ago. Now why?

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iAiai by D. Avery

“Pal, do you have a ipod?”

“I don’t.”

“Should git one.”

“I won’t.”

“Pal, we’re out here all the live long day, we should have a playlist fer when we work.”

“Yer hardly workin’, Kid. Jist leave the singin’ ta the birds.”

“Y’ever yodel, Pal?”

“Never.”

“Knock, knock.”

“Ah, jeez. Who’s there?”

“Little Old Lady.”

“Little Old Lady who?”

“Gotcha ta yodel, Pal!”

“Hmmf.”

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Brain KROT by D. Avery

“S’pose all we need’s thet old radio in the bunkhouse, tuned to KROT. Weatherman says them high winds is slacked off. Says the skies are not cloudy all day.”

“Sportscaster says the Rodeo’s comin’!”

“Yeehaw!”

And the Ads Played On

“Yep, KROT’s a good station, plays jist what ya wanna hear when ya wanna hear it.”

“How da they manage that, Pal?”

“Reckon ‘cause they’s fictional, like us. Shush listen.”

Come shift or shine ya don’t need no fancy wine but fer a real good time try Ernie’s Corn Juice! Ernie’s Corn Juice— dis still the one fer fallin’ down fun.

“Ernie’s advertisin’ on KROT!”

‘Ello. Dees ees Pepe LeGume of LeGume’s Cleaning Services. Leave a shine behind! For a clean that lingers, hire LeGume’s.”

“More ads!”

Frankie delivers da letters with an eye to quality.

“Kid, iquit radio!”

🥕🥕🥕

September 10: Flash Fiction Challenge

The radio plays back-up to my primary sources of music. Wherever I have lived, the radio not only has provided background noise, but it has also connected me to place. If you’ve ever taken a long road trip,, you know how stations can fade in and out, imparting a distinct sound to towns, cities, and regions. Like Donny and Marie Osmond, some stations are a little bit country, and some are a little bit rock and roll. Born in 1967, I’ve known the radio as a life-long companion. A constant I rarely think about but would miss like a left kidney.

Cruising up the Keweenaw Peninsula, something I rarely do these days of COVID, I turned on the radio instead of listening to my digital playlists. Ads annoy me, and I flip to another station. We have five, including NPR and a station Michigan Tech University broadcasts. Actually, I think we have six, but I can’t listen to modern country. Ironic, given that I grew up on Johnny Cash, Earl Scruggs, Dolly Parton, Eddie Arnold, Charlie Pride, Hank Williams, and Loretta Lynn. My parents had a massive 8-track collection. The country classics came from my father’s family influence, but my mom’s family meant I also listened to Bobby Vinton, Frank Sinatra, some weird precursor to elevator music. My dad found more country music, collecting gunslinger ballads. My DNA carries the imprint of the entire Ennio Morricone soundtrack to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. My mom collected the Beatles and the Fifth Dimension.

Once, when I was 12, I requested the Greatest Hits from the 1700s from the Columbia House 8-track catalog that would arrive by post. I also wanted the latest Kiss 8-track. I can’t even begin to unpack my tastes in music. But the radio had its influence, too.

Occasionally I’d sneak the dial to KKBC, a rock station broadcasting seventy miles away from Reno, Nevada. That where I heard songs like Godzilla by Blue Oyster Cult. Columbia House didn’t carry such 8-tracks, or I didn’t know what they were. It was a new sound, but one my parents did not appreciate. Some nights, I leave the radio playing on low. One morning I woke up to, “KKBC’s gone country!” My parents delighted in that switch, and as a family, it introduced us to modern country that would dominate the ’80s  — Hank Williams, Jr., Roseanne Cash, Mickey Gilley, Charlie Daniels, Alabama, and Reba McEntire. I missed Godzilla but fell into a pre-teen crush with Bosephius.

One hundred miles northwest of where I grew up on the eastern slope of the Sierras, a teenaged boy, milking the family herd before he drove to high school, also caught the same radio broadcast I did. Five a.m. and he flipped on the radio and dialed in the rock music he loved, practicing his “Dead Fred” DJ voice, talking to the cows as he set up the morning milking. At six a,.m., we both heard, “KKBC’s gone country!” He flipped out, yelling obscenities at the radio. He’s never forgiven the station, and to this ,day can recite some of the best DJ moments and recalls more songs than my remembered Godzilla. Years before we’d ever meet, the Hub and I shared a moment on the radio.

Many states and radio stations later, we have a set of six stations tuned to our car radio. I can’t even tell you their call numbers. I’ve lost interest. It seems that part of moving on meant leaving behind favorite radio stations, and after Idaho, it became too hard. I carried my CD collection with me and had invested a fair amount in iTunes to play on a tiny shuffle smaller than a pack of gum. My CD player remains beyond my reach, and my computer upgrades don’t play CDs. I relied heavily on my iTunes but went I went Apple all the way, I messed up my music access.

Cue the orchestra to play something woeful. Sometimes, the hoops we jump through for technology sucks. Sometimes, our human brains glitch. When we got our other iProducts I forgot that I already had an iAccount for my shuffle, and I registered New iStuff with a different Apple ID. I kid you not, the magnificent empire of Apple with all its capabilities, and all the engineers who make the things work can’t connect my iTunes music to my iPhone or iMac because the IDs differ. But I have resiliency, so I found a way. I bought a Google Play membership and rebuilt my iTunes collection. Then I began to rebuild the CDs I missed the most. Then I built lists with Hank Williams, Jr and Blue Oyster Cult just because I could!

Do you remember cassette tapes? I thought they were THE THING! I had a player with a recorder and would sit in front of the radio to catch some of my favorite songs. You didn’t live the ’80s unless you had big bangs and cassette mixes with chopped off songs or a chatty DJ you wished would shut up and let the song fade. But you made do because you caught the song. These were my walking mixes, and you better believe — I had a walkman! Then came CDs. We bought a CD player in Montana that you could load six at a time. Magic! I had Yanni, Enya, Enigma, and Windam Hill New Age collections that I’d load to play in the evenings to cook, settle the kids, light candles, and read or write late at night. The memory brings such peace.

Digital playlists are a miracle to me. When I’d work out in the gym pre-back surgeries, I had my fem singers to fire me up — Tori Amos, Jewel, Sarah McLachlan, Natalie Merchant, Dido, and Paula Cole. I had all the CDs and carried a case to switch out CDs, longing for a way to play three songs of one, two of another, and so on. I yearned for the mixing ability of cassettes with the quality of the CD sound (and not having to use a pencil). Yes, I waited a long time for playlists and was satisfied with iTunes. But Google Play leveled up. Then came the email last month — they closed up shop. With so many other options, they decided not to offer such services. They offered to transfer all my albums from Journey and Bruce Springsteen to Chakra Dance and Guided Meditations and all the rest in between to YouTube Music.

YouTube. That’s the Hub’s music miracle. He loves to research the musicians and listen to interviews and variations of songs. He’s found new music like Mean Mary and can tell you who does the best covers of Stevie Ray Vaughn. I consented and agreed to transfer my music, feeling that desolation of a move again. Then came the glitches. On Google Play, I had order. I intentionally named my playlists in such a way that I categorized them by type but also alphabetically. YTM squished the lists together out of sequence and added the Hub’s listening playlists from when he’s on my computer. Then, the playlists cut out on shuffle, so my background music shuts down randomly. I spent too much time trying to figure out a fix and drew the line at having to download an app.

That’s how I came to Amazon Music. It’s half the price of Google Play. The Hub can still do his thing on YouTube. I can, too, and no need to pay for YouTube Music. But I’m not advertising. Actually, I’m a bit disgruntled with all this wasted effort when I had the solution three technology advances ago. But what eased my troubles was finding a CD replacement that Google Play and YouTube did not have. Clannad. It was always first in my CD player. It heralded the moment I took a deep breath and felt the peace of home no matter where I was. Tonight, I set up a playlist of albums as if I were back in Montana…or Minnesota…or Idaho. I heard home play in my home…in Michigan for the first time. And I settled inside.

There is a radio station I still listen to regularly, though, and it’s not in my vehicle, but on my computer. WUMB. It has the kind of music the Current played in Minneapolis, and another station in Idaho. Out of Boston, I think of it as the music of the Northeast. I think of Vermont, the most rooted place and people I’ve experienced. Rooted music. And that is still the magic of radio. Despite all these technologies and arrangements, radio still connects people and place.

With great anticipation, I introduce ya’ll to the 2020 Flash Fiction Rodeo Playlist (on YouTube). I had lots of music memories and creative ideas swirling as I built this list. The first song is a masterpiece written for a Clint Eastwood movie by an Italian composer and artfully played by the Danish National Symphony. It vibrates with global imagination. The list includes classics, a few KKBC tunes, western movie songs, and some interesting modern manifestations in western music. Cowboy music has roots in many other nations and has a vibe shared by those venturing to frontiers. Maybe one day, someone will yodel a cattle call on Mars. Much of the music tells a story; other songs inspire stories. It’s the essence of our Rodeo contest season quickly approaching.

We have a great line up of Rodeo Leaders to host contests this year — Colleen Chesebro, Marsha Ingrao, Kerry E.B. Black, and the one and only Goldie. We all decided to stay with a western theme this year, yet you will be surprised, delighted, and challenged by what these Leaders have to offer in their contests. TUFF (The Ultimate Flash Fiction) returns this year, too, and will take over the stage at Saddle Up Saloon on Mondays. Contests will start every Tuesday in October, each ending before the next one launches. These contests allow writers to apply their skills and stretch their writing. The weekly challenges will continue on Thursday, with collections published on Wednesdays. Winners will be revealed on consecutive Tuesdays in November. One winner in each contest will win $25 and a digital trophy.

September 10, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes something heard on the radio. It can be from any station or era. What is heard? A song, announcement, ad? Think of how radion connects people and places. Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by September 15, 2020. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

Submissions are now closed. See our latest challenge to enter.

Lost Daughter by Charli Mills

Clementine heard her mother over the Stockton radio. She’d entered the small house at the edge of farm fields, picking up fallen produce in the road. Harvest trucks left a trail, speeding to city markets. Her landlady called the rental the Road Garden. Clem thought she meant “rose” and was disappointed to find weeds and a weeping willow. Her mother played Rambler on the banjo and Clem recognized the Tennessee picking popular among California cowboys. She recognized her mother’s name but not her voice. One day, maybe she’d meet the woman who abandoned her for a life of music.