Transitioning from News to Music

 newspapers and music CDs

I’ve been listening to too much news lately, especially during the presidential campaign and its aftermath. It’s like a soap opera with real life consequences—hard to turn off. Like a box of See’s candy or a sack of bite-sized Snickers—bad for your health but oh, so tempting to overindulge in it.

My solution: listen to more music. I don’t mean to say that I’m opting out of the news. I still feel the need to know what’s going on in my country and the world. To be a knowledgeable citizen. To do my part.

But for a while I was going overboard. And so, in order to gain more balance in my life, I’ve decided to turn to music. Or at least I’m trying to make at least a partial transition from news to music. Old habits die hard.

One old habit of mine is listening to NPR while I drive. Sometimes I listen to music CDs when I’m in the car, or even to “the sound of silence.” Lately, though, NPR has had the lion’s share of my driving time. The mix CDs my daughter made for me deserve more attention. And really, there’s nothing wrong with a little silence now and then.

Another habit: watching or listening to the news while I’m cooking, eating or washing dishes. I haven’t always been such a news junkie. I suppose I fell into the habit after my husband died. The house had begun to seem too quiet, and the radio and TV helped fill up that sound space. This year, the outrageous presidential campaign and election overflowed into every nook and cranny.

My transition to music started a few weeks ago with the songs I have on iTunes. Those songs were getting a little stale, though, so I signed up with Pandora.

Here are some of the “stations” I’ve set up so far on Pandora:

Bruno Mars, Sam Smith, Smooth Jazz, Sara Bareilles, Santana, Fun., and Christmas Traditional, which I play when I’m wrapping gifts and addressing Christmas cards.

I still find it hard to tear myself away from the news–all those meaty, complex, outrageous things going on every day in my country and the world. When I listen to music, though, I smile more. I even find myself swinging my hips and twirling my way around the kitchen.

I feel happier. And that’s gotta be a good thing.

So … What do you fill your sound space with–news, music, talk, nothing at all? What type of music do you like?my signature

About Nicki Chen

About Nicki Chen
Nicki Chen is a writer living in Edmonds, WA. Her first novel, Tiger Tail Soup, is set in China during the Japanese invasion and occupation, 1937-1945. She’s working on a second novel set in Vanuatu, a South Pacific nation where she and her late husband lived in the early ’90s.

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17 comments


  1. Music is a lovely antidote to the news, Nicki. I also have Pandora on my phone. Christmas music is always fun to listen to.




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    • I’m always surprised at how, when I turn music on, it immediately changes my mood. For one thing, it makes me feel more like exercising. But it has to be the right music for the right occasion. Sometimes I listen so intently, especially to a new song, that I feel as though I’m trying to accomplish an assignment. When that happens, I figure I must be needing to think or relax into silence.




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  2. Teresa

    I like to try out the radio so I can hear the latest stuff, and even sometimes the silly chatter. One station has more rap on the weekends, which I enjoy. One station is Russian, and a lot are Spanish.




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    • Sounds like a good way to stay familiar with your Spanish and Russian.

      When I was in high school, I listened to the radio beside my bed every night so I could keep up with the latest rock-and-roll songs.




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  3. Music soothes the soul, Nicki and can trigger so many wonderful memories. Wise move!




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    • I have a big playlist with all instrumental music. I put it on shuffle and play it when I’m writing. It’s just the right amount of soothing sounds. My other favorite playlist is upbeat. It’s more stimulating than soothing.




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  4. I’m with you on the silence. Sometimes, I just crave quiet. Especially now, actually, since there’s contraction across the street.

    But for holiday baking, Christmas music. For cleaning, HAMILTON. 🙂




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    • I’ve lived in both very noisy and very quiet places. I prefer the quiet ones. Manila was a noisy place–especially one house we rented on a Sunday and found out on a Monday that motorcycles and motorized tricycles passed by all day long. Vanuatu was a quiet place, except for the occasional squawking of passing parrots.




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  5. Lately I like listening to a Spanish radio show. It is the one I listened to in the car when I was driving to work in 2011, the year I worked in Spain. It has a bit of news, interviews and music. I like many types of music, I listen to basically everything that doesn’t sound too mainstream (so no top 40 hits for me, haha).




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  6. I can just picture you around the house listening to music and dancing away, getting on with your day. I’ve heard quite a bit about NPR in the States, that it has informative talk shows about current affairs and it offers diverse opinions.

    I love listening to music whenever, wherever. But I don’t do that when I’m out and about walking because I like to be immerse on the road or on the journey, and also for safety reasons – basically to have my ears open to the sounds of the world to feel a heightened sense of awareness. I like listening to dancing violinist Lindsey Stirling and the alternative band Florence and the Machine. Currently I’m also into YouTuber Andie Case. What I like to listen does depend on my mood, though.




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    • I’ve tried using earphones once or twice, but they never seem to fit. Besides, I’m like you. When I’m taking a walk, I just walk and look around at the scenery.

      I just looked up Lindsey Stirling on YouTube–Hold my Heart. So cute and funny with all the Alice in Wonderland scenes. I know a couple of Florence and the Machine songs: Shake it Out, and The Dog Days Are Over, suggested to me by my daughter.




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  7. We rarely tune in to the news ~ just a few minutes a day to catch the weather.

    Music rocks! It’s a great way to boost our mood. But silence has its benefits too. Most of the day we enjoy QUIET, but I put in a CD if I’m going to be chopping and dropping in the kitchen for awhile. And I listen to instrumental music (Indian, Benedictine Chants, Ocean Sounds) for an hour in the morning while “meditating.”

    In the car, it’s Classic Rock all the way ~> Born To Be Wild!




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    • I’ve gone through long periods of almost no news at all, mostly when we lived abroad, especially in Vanuatu, and I’ve gone through periods of serious interest, for example when we were living through the People Power Revolution in the Philippines and the eight coup attempts that followed.

      I also have some Benedictine chants on my writing music playlist. I can almost smell the incense.




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