Thursday, April 24, 2014
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GUEST COLUMN • Mark Magnan | Too many choices

A couple of years ago I bought a new truck. With that purchase came a trial subscription to satellite radio. Now we all know that this is not really a gift because they like you and want to give you something to enjoy, it is trick to try and hook you. They want you to get used to the convenience of the radio and keep the subscription going. Well I didn’t fall for that. When the free trial was over I let it end. A month or so went by, getting e-mails telling me of the exciting things that were going on with my, now shut off, radio. Finally they made me an offer to get me back. It was a good deal, about the price of a decent meal, so I thought I would go hungry one day and splurge for the new radio subscription. Sure enough it was exciting, well fairly exciting, OK, just interesting. When this super cheap subscription was over I once again ended my agreement with them. But, they had one more trick up their sleeve. They now offered a full year at a greatly reduced price, well less than the face value if you just renew regularly. Of course there are a few tricks they use to keep you hooked. But so far I seem to be doing well with the deal.
The problem is that there are only about a half dozen “channels” that I actually listen to. I have yet to scroll all the way through the entire selections. I usually will go a few channels each way of my favorites. So far there is not a lot that really catches my ear. I don’t want to pay for talk radio, there are a ton of news channels. Even with my fairly eclectic musical taste, there are only a few channels that I leave it on for an extended period of time. There are some specialty channels that make me wonder how dull a person’s life must be to listen to endless hours of that music. I also don’t spend hours in my vehicle, my commute is fairly short. I don’t work out of my truck. So really the radio subscription is a luxury.


I also have cable TV at my house. Again there are a lot of wasted channels streaming into my living room that I would never watch. Immediately the Spanish channels are out, my Spanish is good enough to ask for the restroom but not good enough to follow a game show or drama. I can watch a soccer game in Spanish as it really doesn’t take a lot to understand what is going on there, but then again who watches soccer on TV... As with the radio, I don’t watch the endless news broadcasts, I like to catch the headlines if needed. It is good to know that if something important does happen there are ten stations that will broadcast the same information constantly until the next major news event occurs.
I have my favorite TV stations that get most of my viewing time. I really could live with just those. Why can’t we just pick and choose the TV or radio that we want and pay for that. It would work for all of us, except the select few that will channel surf all 3 zillion dish channels just to see what is on. This format works in other areas of our lives. We go to the grocery store and buy the things we want, probably many of the same things each week. No one goes in and buys the entire store just because it is there. We all have our favorite chips and drinks, or breakfast cereals, and the same meats for our favorite dishes.
What if when we go to a clothing store we had to take home a lot of extra clothes that didn’t even fit because that was the way the store did business. But I think we are getting closer to a more personal selection process with the subscriptions to movie and TV show services. I for one am for less choices. I don’t do so good with a lot of choices. I have a hard time picking a pair of boots to wear and they all go with my regular jeans. Perhaps I am overstocked on footwear, the end result of too many choices.