The Last Transmission

Todd Merrell
This musical work for shortwave radio and electronics is an elegy for all analog broadcasts and transmissions as the author imagines it, in response to the impending cessation of analog television broadcasting in the United States on February 17, 2009. While radio remains so far unaffected by the FCC ruling, the composer is left to wonder about the fate of all analog transmissions, the joys of noise, of continuous analog tuning systems and vernier scales, of the relative simplicity, affordability and ready accessibility of analog receivers and transmitters for television and radio, that enable and empower ordinary individuals, and give them access to a world of ideas, communication, and even dissent. It is also a paean to radio in anticipation of its possible future obsolescence, given the hyperbolic development and pervasiveness of digital technologies. The piece celebrates the horrific shrieks and whispering caresses from the ether that may one day vanish completely from the skies, and suggests throughout the work the profound sense of loss and grief that the composer would feel should radio no longer be with us.