As I’ve aged I’ve had more trouble sleeping. (I’m told that’s not uncommon.) Once I fall asleep, I’m usually fine. Nodding off is the problem.
A few years ago The Fabulous Wife suggested I try listening to radio talk shows, as voices she calls “vacuous baritones” put her right to sleep. (Before you ask, I’m a vacuous tenor.) So I bought a pair of snug-fitting earbuds and at bedtime tuned in to the ne plus ultra of vacuous baritonosity, National Public Radio.
For a while it worked. I would hear the local announcer’s pitch for upcoming NPR programs and think “that sounds interesting” only to fall asleep well before the interesting program came on. Either that or I would be awake for the interesting program but fall asleep a few minutes into it.
Late last year, listening to NPR stopped working for me. The vacuous baritones still possessed their power to lull, but I found their subject matter depressing: I did not want to hear about impeachment. I didn’t listen to a moment of live testimony, having gotten my fill as a teenager during the Watergate hearings, and was even less interested in impeachment-related interviews and analysis. So if the radio was going to put me sleep, I needed to find another station.
I switched to sports talk radio. It has nowhere near NPR’s soporific splendor, but its spielmeisters do vacuous the way Stephen Curry shoots free throws (for you non-sports types: he hardly ever misses), and with few exceptions, most notably the one woman allowed to host an overnight show, Amy Lawrence of CBS Sports (recommended!), they’re baritones.
If you’ve spent any time listening to sports talk stations, you know they focus almost entirely on football and basketball. That can be a problem if you’re a cranky, out-of-demographic listener whose first and pretty much only sport is baseball. But if you’re a cranky, out-of-demographic listener seeking content that isn’t engaging, that’s perfect. So despite sports talk radio’s obstreperous vibe, I’ve been using it as a sleep aid since late last year.
Now I think I’ll either have to go back to NPR or find a fresh alternative, because after all these months of ignoring baseball, the sports talk hosts are chattering about nothing else. I wish that was because spring training has begun and everyone’s brimming with optimism for the coming season. Nope! It’s because the Houston Astros, winners of the 2017 World Series, were discovered to have cheated, using prohibited technology to tip off their hitters about what the other team’s pitcher was throwing next. Added bonus: Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, a lawyer who somehow got this far without learning how to formulate a persuasive argument, completely botched the explanation for why Astro players went unpunished, compounding the sense of betrayal among fans and non-Astro players.
So now I suffer from insomnia for two reasons: I can’t find a talk radio station whose on-air talent puts me to sleep, and I’ve learned that Major League Baseball, a source of solace my entire life despite its many shortcomings, has grown as corrupt as the White House.
I think I’m going to call my doctor and ask him to recommend a good sleeping pill.