I grew up in Atlanta. I came of age listening to Atlanta's radio stations.
My first car had a Z93 bumper sticker. My first motorcycle sported 96 Rock stickers on either side of the tailpiece. The 280ZX I drove in the early '90s had a 99X sticker in the back window. I could be identified, catalogued, by the music preferences that I proudly showcased to the world.
I've lived in Knoxville for almost five years now. I still haven't programmed the station presets in the Beemer's head unit. Why is this?
It's not like I'm some notorious .mp3 pirate; I think I may have downloaded two songs from the Errornet since I first got a connection back in '97. There are a ton of .mp3's on my desktop machines and my laptop, but they were all burned off my huge CD collection, which was mostly picked up from used record shops or online stores. The big change is that: A) A CD burner lets me mix my own tunes with a tiny fraction of the time and hassle that using the old dual-cassette Sony deck mouldering away on my bookshelf entailed, and B) The CD changer in the trunk of my car lets me load up a week's worth of commercial-free home-mixed music, selected by me instead of some focus group, at one shot. An .mp3-capable head unit in the car, connected to an iPod, would take this ability straight to its reductio ad absurdum limits. I'd never have to let someone else pick my music again.
On the other hand, I'd hardly ever hear new music again. As it is, barring recommendations from friends, accidental exposure via advertising or the 'web, or the occasional "Hey, that's some neat cover art!" random grab at McKay's, I'm almost never exposed to music by artists I haven't already heard or from styles I don't already listen to.
What's the solution? XM and its pay-to-listen galaxy of narrow-focus stations? Some edgy new FM station whose market niche is "Playing cool tunes Tamara's never heard before?"
I've got money to spend on music, and I'd like to spend it on something other than blank CD's for my next Roadtrip Mix...