Wireless Technologies Rant

Generally, while driving my car to and fro, I’m listening to the radio on 90.1 FM WYCM, a Christian radio station located in Charlton. (Their web site is down at the moment.) Now, I’m not thrilled with wireless technologies for the most part, but the radio receiver is built into the car and I enjoy and support their programming, and the signal covers the majority of my travel area.

A trend I’ve noticed lately is that more and more people tend to want to bring their own music/talk/whatever with them in their car, which is certainly fine. However, for backward compatibility with the sound system integrated in their car (which only supports radio signals and cassette tapes, which nobody uses anymore), they hook up their portable audio player to a low-range FM transmitter, and then tune their car’s radio to that frequency. Thus, they get to hear the audio from the portable player without needing to replace the car’s integrated sound system.

And, for whatever reason, it seems a good number of these low-range transmitter setups run on the 90.1 FM frequency. I don’t know if it’s a default on some of these, or if people pick it because there are no stations on it at their house but they travel where there are stations, or what. And, many of these transmitters can transmit farther than the car’s boundaries.

But, the practical upshot of this is that at least once a week, I end up hearing somebody else’s audio at some point during my travels. Sometimes it’s very quick, as somebody goes by in the other direction or passes me in the same direction. Sometimes it’s for quite a bit longer, as somebody pulls in behind or in front of me and we stay near each other for a while, and it stays until our paths diverge.

Sometimes, the sound is somewhat amusing. (I remember one case where we pulled behind a van, and we could see a Veggie Tales video on a screen in the van in front of us, and could hear the audio in our car.) Sometimes, the song (if you want to call it that) I hear is completely obnoxious and/or offensive.

And thus, I continue to prefer wired communications, since wireless communications are just full of issues like this. I just have to figure out how to get a live audio feed via wires into a car while it’s moving…