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This I Believe: I Believe in Car Stereos

Madeline Sievers midshot
Beatrice Bonner
NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS
Madeline Sievers - Springfield High School

I believe in car stereos. The stereo may be seen as a flashy accessory for an otherwise necessary means of transportation. But I believe a car stereo is the most important feature of the car. It is the heart of all socialization. Whether a touch-screen or good old-fashioned buttons, this modern music box is something of a magic trick. 

By amplifying audio signals through the speakers, this machine can create music out of thin air this appliance is far more than just for easy listening. Within each car stereo, there lies a story. A song queue from a long day, a podcast history during a brainstorm, or a phone call from mom. This contraption has an etched memory of the late nights of Joni Mitchell after a breakup. The stereo contains a story of a life.

I never understood the importance of car stereos until I installed one with my father. We tore apart my old Chevy Cavalier to replace the radio. Without understanding the level of work we would have to instill on this car, we removed the plastic dashboard cover. Because of the vehicle's age it shattered into pieces immediately. After copious amounts of swearing, and days of online searching for a replacement part, my father and I finally found a matching piece. Once we had this, the rest of the installation developed with ease. 

I often look back on that day whenever I play music through my stereo. I think about the relationship with my father and how we often connect when building things together. I wonder how many other connections are made through car stereos. How many high school sweethearts connected through Dion’s greatest hits? How many mothers connected to their daughters when they play the same music they once listened to in the ‘80s? How could something so inanimate fuel so many deep human attachments?

I cherish the way people form attachments to ordinary objects and the ways in which they associate them with certain emotions. It’s fascinating that people across the world, thousands of miles away, in myriad of car models and types, may find a likeness in each other through a simple radio transmission. I believe in the power of car stereos.

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