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How My Trips Home Differ, Based on Who Controls the Radio

As a freshman who doesn’t have a car at school, I am dependent upon the INCREDIBLY unreliable Amtrak to get home or my family members that make the 4-hour trip from Villa Park, IL to Winona to pick me up. In all my journeys to and from school, I have observed that with each drive comes a different tone depending on the tune on the radio. Here are my family members, their musical preferences, and how it affects getting from Point A to Point B.


Mom: I am wholly convinced my mom could win the game show “Don’t Forget the Lyrics,” but she is absolutely awful at guessing the artists. While she doesn’t have a certain preference on stations, there is never a shortage of hilarity as she guesses Katy Perry as Kesha or Jon Bon Jovi as Sting. She does occasionally like classical music, which gives the rest of the car a chance to practice their theatrical conductor routine, whether that be in the front or the Bach of the car (get it?).


Dad: I am eternally glad that my dad taught my sister and me at a young age about legends such as The Cure, Queen, ACDC, and plenty others. He’s very good at playing snippets of songs and cluing us into guessing the artist or telling us stories of the first time he heard the song. I think my favorite one was witnessing his interpretive dance and hysterically excited reaction to Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman.” That being said, he really enjoys 93.1 XRT, known as “Chicago’s Finest Rock” station, but he does indulge my sister and me in pop songs on 93.9!


Sister: I’m not ashamed to admit that my sister has better music taste than me. I fully enjoy the days she texts me her SoundCloud playlists because her eclectic music taste gives me songs for every mood. She listens to rappers like Khalid but just as fluidly transitions to “You’re the One that I Want” from the Grease soundtrack. Though she has only made the drive to Winona with me once on move-in day, that day was indeed in need of an epic playlist; Zoe totally delivered with the perfect blend of genres and her hysterical air guitar while I did my drums rendition.


Grandma: My grandma is basically the Switzerland of radio stations – she has no real preference on FM stations but likes Sirius’ The Blend, The Pulse, and The Highway. Most times on our trips to and from school, she has a romance novel in her hand. Sometimes the best part of the trip is just knowing her undivided attention is on my ceaseless stories and running commentary on every topic, making the radio more of a background noise than a focal point on our path home.


Grandpa: If they were able to give stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for biggest Broadway fan, I’m certain my grandpa would be on the top of their to-do list. From Rent, The Lion King, Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat, Wicked, Book of Mormon, and dozens of others, my grandpa’s mind is a Rolodex of melodies and lyrics. He sings, beautifully might I add, and never fails to have a funny anecdote or trivia question related to the song. Some of my fondest memories of my grandpa’s love of theater and musicals were fueled by the incessant playing of the Mamma Mia soundtrack, so I undoubtedly belt out those tunes with him. While he does get the most grief about his station’s listening time in the car, his is (not so secretly now) my favorite.


It might not always be the most convenient travel method, but I am so appreciative of all the family members that embark on the trips to pick me up and drop me off at school. Every journey has such a distinct combination, but whenever I’m with them, my heart is all perfect harmony.



My name is Hannah Hippensteel, and I like to say I'm a Chicago city-slicker, but I'm actually from the 'burbs. I'm currently a senior at Winona State with a major in mass communication-journalism and a minor in sociology. Catch me enjoying all Winona has to offer: the bluffs, the incomparable Bloedow's Bakery, and not to mention, Minnesota boys. With a goal of working at Teen Vogue, Seventeen or Glamour magazine, I'm soaking up every opportunity to keep my finger on the pulse and share my personal voice!
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