Friday, January 13, 2006


Tom Vincent posted this to the American Dialect Society email discussion list today.

Greetings to the list!

The car ahead of me has a portable satellite radio or MP3 player
playing through the car stereo via an FM transmitter (instead of a direct
feed) set to 88.1, same as the Baltimore NPR station I'm listening
to...well, was until I approach this other car and I'm now hearing some XM
traffic report instead. I have an FM transmitter and know that the
default frequency is 88.1 and suspect that purchasers just rarely bother to
change it to something else.

I pass the car and the 'carcasting' (my term for it) ends. The
'carcasting' doesn't seem to be able to get through the (literal) firewall of
the other car (my guess).

Is there a different term for this phenomenon?

I was thinking apple should include an FM receiver in the iPod so you could share your itunes as you walk down the street. I never even thought that having an FM broadcaster in my car made me a mobile pirate radio station. I'm going to drive around listening to 88.5 white noise until I catch someone's transmission.

I like the word carcasting for the transmission. For the reception I think it should be eavespodding.

[Update--1/16/06] I tried this on the way home Friday night and again this morning. I tuned my radio to 88.1 and listened. It worked, but at 70 to 75 mph, it's very hard to stay with someone. I also seemed to get a lot more hits for people travelling in the opposite direction. On the way in this morning I got a couple of snippets of Howard Stern, but the best reception I got was from a big truck. He was a Quebecois. I pulled in front of him and was able to listen in on his Canadian-French news broadcast. Too bad I didn't understand it.

I normally get stuck in trafic in the mornings and I think that would help me stay with the carcasters. But today being MLK day, traffic was too light.


Maryann said...

Apple IS introducing something like that for the ipod. Is a tuner the same as a receiver? I don't know science. From the Fast Company blog on Steve Jobs's recent address:

Jobs introduced a cool new accessory for the iPod. For $49, you can now buy a remote control that also serves as an FM tuner. (What about AM? Or satellite?) When it’s connected to an iPod, a “Radio” menu item suddenly shows up on the main screen; as usual with Apple, design simplicity is paramount.

liberal elite said...

Perfect. So if you have the tuner and I have the transmitter we can walk down the street listening to the same music. I don't know why I think this is cool.

Maryann said...

It's because it IS cool. It's like a live podcast. I was actually surprised when I got my ipod and it didn't have an extra jack for another set of earbuds. I pictured myself sitting on the bus or walking down the street with a friend, and sharing the music. Maybe there is some kind of splitter you can buy...

Eric said...

You can get a stereo mini-plug splitter at Radio Shack (or wherever you prefer to buy this sort of thing) for a few bucks. Karen and I have a couple of these for when we travel -- to listen to the same music on an iPod or to watch the same movie on a laptop. The only problem is they're small so we (ok, *I*) keep losing them ...

The new FM receiver for the iPod is cool, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't transmit anything. There are other FM transmitters for the iPod (look here, for example), but I'm not sure you can have one of these and the new FM receiver hooked up at the same time. On the other hand, I'm not sure why you'd want to re-broadcast a radio station to a radio ...

liberal elite said...

I'm thinking people shuold put signs in their windows: "I'm broadcasting on 88.1 fm!" or something. Maybe I should try it.

As for the receiver/transmitter thing, you want one iPod to have the transmitter and the other to have the receiver. See, then you can transmit from one to the other. Of course, then you'd need a friend to listen to your transmission. If only I had friends.

Anonymous said...

That is funny! I thought of putting the sign in my window when I first got my IPod.
Wait until the FCC cracks down on Howard Stern because of this. Until then I will continue to listen to any Sirius broadcast with cursing on it.

ruleof72 said...

Even though you all don't realize it yet, you are all nascent short-wave listeners or Allah forbid! -- budding ham radio operators. There is a whole universe of radio signals out there to partake of and not all of them are frequency modulated. Keep up the good work!


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