Radio Garden is planting seeds this spring while you are imagining your best garden ever. Take your pick of more than 8,000 diverse radio stations around the world. Radio Garden began growth in 2016. “Our dedicated team is hard at work tending the garden daily. Planting seeds for the future and keeping the weeds at bay from the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision.”

“Jonathan Puckey, our head gardener, leads with a focus on design and development, ensuring Radio Garden blossoms and thrives in every aspect.

By bringing distant voices close, radio connects people and places. From its very beginning, radio signals have crossed borders. Radio makers and listeners have imagined both connecting with distant cultures, as well as re-connecting with people from ‘home’ from thousands of miles away.”

Radio Garden is a metaphor for so much that life and gardening represent—happiness, meaning and variety. (Cass R. Sunstein, the American legal scholar, made this clear on Sam Harris’s recent Making Sense podcast.) I can’t remember my last boring day, though there have been many bad days to be sure. I am often happiest in gardens, but a garden takes work. Raising children takes work, too. Both are meaningful but can diminish happiness when your child is throwing a conniption fit or sapsuckers are poking thousands of holes in your favorite magnolia. Variety adds spice. I enjoy meeting new people, exploring new cultures, and growing (even if sometimes killing) plants I have never grown before.

Radio expanded my small world

I grew up listening to early Cassius Clay prizefights on a tiny transistor radio. Clay was my hometown hero. The Louisville Lip spoke poetically and prophetically. “Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee,” he boasted. Coincidentally this spring, in the Olmsted-designed Chickasaw Park, near Muhammad Ali’s childhood home, the construction of a Butterfly and Bee pollinator meadow, honoring Ali, is underway.

Only in the last four years, since Breonna Taylor was killed, have I begun more often to cross Louisville’s 9th Street—the dividing line between the city’s historically segregated East and West Ends.  I was a slow-to-set sail Vasco da Gama in a city I thought I knew. My friend Eugene Donan, who grew up a few blocks from Muhammad Ali, schooled me last fall. We drove through the California, Russell, Parkland Park Duvalle, Shawnee, and Chickasaw neighborhoods in the West End. I was welcomed to the world Eugene knew so well.

There is still much to explore.

Spring beauties

My Kentucky hit parade of blooms began in early March with Lenten roses and marched on with thousands of spring beauties along the Salt River, a hillside of daffodils, precious few toothworts, Virginia bluebells, a red quince, grape hyacinths, pasqueflowers, dogwoods, redbuds, and service berries. I wandered around the Radio Garden globe on my iPhone and heard the Gin Blossoms from WXKU in tiny Austin, Indiana. Boston (the rock band) was playing in Kazakhstan. I’m sure somewhere they are playing the Grateful Dead’s China Cat Sunflower.

“Be all ears for radio stations broadcasting in unique languages. Pick up on Afro-Creole dialects in Suriname, Nigeria’s Pidgin English and more.”

Spring beauties (Claytonia virgininica)

Lenten roses (Helleborus x hybridus)


Pink pasqueflower, Sedum ‘Angelina’ and grape hyacinth


Narcissus ‘Delibes’ and Virginia bluebell

Musical Roots

“Zoom into the places that shaped musical genres. From the birthplace of jazz to gamelan music from Indonesia to Rio de Janeiro’s baile funk.”

Radio Diaspora

“Stations connecting communities and groups living abroad…Listen to Japanese radio from Honolulu… Or the first African radio station in Los Angeles. Sunuker FM is a Wolof language radio station for Senegalese communities living abroad and features African news, talk shows and music. Sunuker means ‘Our Home in Wolof.’”

Take the edge off

Radio Garden coupled with ear buds could be a way to catch tunes from Gambia, Azerbaijan, and Argentina that may drown out the unnerving drone of a once in lifetime double brood of cicadas—billions of them— that will be emerging in portions of the American Midwest and southeast later this spring.

I can’t help you with ticks and chiggers, but I will vouch for WMMT-FM 88.7, THE GREATEST LITTLE RADIO STATION IN THE WHOLE WIDE W-H-I-R-L-E-D, in Whitesburg, Kentucky.