My parents bought me a JCPenny clock radio as a birthday present when I was a teenager. I’ve been using it almost daily ever since. It’s officially named an AM/FM Clock Radio Cassette Player. The radio offers two alarms, which I’ve grown accustomed to using so I can have one alarm for workdays and one for Saturdays. I don’t set an alarm for Sundays. Everyone needs one day a week to sleep in.
One of my favorite features, which was a new concept to me when I was gifted the radio, is the snooze alarm. I didn’t use it at first because I didn’t trust it and was scared of oversleeping. Now I can’t imagine an alarm clock without one. I’ve been using it at least once a morning, six days a week, for years.
I’ve read articles that say hitting the snooze alarm is bad for your health because each time the alarm goes off, it jars you awake, which stresses your heart and nervous system. When this happens two or three times a morning because of the snooze feature, it compounds the problem. There’s even an online mattress company based in the United Kingdom that’s lobbying Apple to remove the snooze button from its next operating system.
I’m an advocate of snoozing. That extra nine minutes of sleep I get may be my best, most restful sleep of the night. I’m not alone. A 2017 survey of almost 20,000 people by the consumer electronics company Withings found that 50% of people use a snooze alarm.
My prized radio has lived with me in four states and outlasted my first six cars and four mobile phones. Out of curiosity, I looked on eBay to see if anyone was selling the particular model I have. I saw a few for sale, ranging in price from $21 to $28, which I suspect is close to what the radios cost new nearly four decades ago.
The clock radio has an option for the alarm to be a buzzing noise or to play the radio. I prefer the latter so I can start the day with music. It has a dimmer for the digital display, which I’ve never used. When I received the radio as a teen, I played cassette tapes in it constantly. I listened to Led Zeppelin’s “Physical Graffiti” so many times the tape snapped. I no longer have cassette tapes, so I don’t use that feature anymore.
According to statistics, alarm clocks like mine are going the way of the dinosaur. One article I read called the clocks “old school.” That’s because most young adults and teens use their smartphones for alarms. A study a couple years ago by Sleep Junkie found that 88% of millennials and 71% of Gen Xers wake up to their phone alarms.
I suppose it all comes down to familiarity and comfort level. I feel comfortable with my trusty clock radio. Yet I understand why the generations that grew up with a phone in their hands rely on it for a lot more applications than I do.
As a creature of habit, I hope my clock radio continues to serve me for many more years so I won’t have to buy a new one. I don’t like the new clock radios and don’t want to use my phone alarm. I have no idea what the lifespan of my clock radio is supposed to be, but I’m optimistic I’ll exceed it, if I haven’t already.