Frankly, I had about given up on listening to the radio.

My favorite local sports talk show had turned into non-stop commercials for a weight loss clinic, with the host swearing, “I’ve lost 80 pounds in the past two weeks on the Speedy Diet Program, without exercise, and I’m eating hot fudge sundaes for breakfast, lunch and dinner! It’s unbelievable! The chicks won’t leave me alone on the beach!”

Yeah, right, and then the Speedy Diet Program folks get busted for insanely false advertising, and Mr. Ripped Talk Host puts the 80 pounds back on – plus 20 more for the pain and suffering he caused listeners.

My local news station had turned into a lunatic fringe political soap box. My favorite rock station flipped formats to some crazy language that only cab drivers understand.

It got so bad that I was using my clock radio as a … clock!

Desperate times call for desperate measures. I – gasp – started reading myself to sleep at night instead of listening to nationally syndicated kooks talking about Martians in Michigan. Nothing ever topped Larry King’s latenight show for putting me beddy-bye. C’mon, Larry, tell us that story about eating ice cream with Sandy Koufax again, for the 100th time, this week.

Just when I hit rock bottom and started ordering books on tape … I got a CC WiFi Internet Radio and put it on the night stand next to my bed.

Radio … I’m back, baby!

With this Internet radio, I’m not a prisoner of local radio’s Noah’s Ark strategy:  two talk stations, two sports stations, two rock stations, two country stations, two rap stations, two etc.

Now, I have the freedom to choose between, oh, about FIFTEEN THOUSAND STATIONS!

From across my hometown and around the world.

I’m a sports talk fan. I have two sports talk stations in my town, but I’m tired of hearing if the local baseball team has enough bullpen pitching. We’re in last place. Who cares? On this team, the “closer,” is the guy who turns out the lights after fans leave in the seventh inning.

With my CC WiFi Internet Radio, I get (ready for this?) – 1,012 sports talk stations spanning the globe. Last July, I listened to a London sports station talking about Andy Murray’s chances of winning Wimbledon. During the Olympics, you should have heard the stations in Jamaica bragging on Usain Bolt.

Whenever something happens, anywhere in the world, I tune to that city’s news/talk station and get the straight scoop from people who know what they’re talking about. There are 1,029 news stations and 661 news talk stations on Internet radio.

I listened to the news station in New Orleans during Hurricane Isaac. I heard real stories about the storm from local reporters, not some clueless New York hack sent by the network.

“Local officials say you should stay out of standing water because there may be snakes in there, plus you could be injured by an electrical shock. It’s very dangerous. This is news ace Geraldo Crackerjack, reporting from the middle of a flooded street!”

Smart, real smart.

I like classic rock. I’m a Beatles freak. Love the music from the ‘60s and ‘70s. Instead of listening to my local rock stations play the same 20 songs over and over, (Stairway to Heaven again?) I hit “Genre” on my Internet radio, and choose from, take a deep breath …

408 classic rock stations.

206 stations playing ‘60s music.

309 stations playing ‘70s hits.

959 stations playing the oldies.

I can even narrow down where I want to hear my ‘60s hits from – I usually go to London or Liverpool stations.  There are nine stations that play nothing but Beatles songs 24 hours a day.

You want some fun? Tune in a reggae station from Montego Bay, mon.

You want even more fun? Tune in a Pittsburgh sports station the night after the Steelers lose. Better make sure your smoke detector works. Those Steeler fans take their football pretty serious.

The sound from my Internet radio is clearer than my old clock radio. There’s a sports station in my city that I enjoy. But the weak signal and static made it unbearable to listen to, and I can practically see the station’s antenna from my house.

On my Internet radio, the station comes in crystal clear.

My local ESPN radio affiliate pre-empts the Scott Van Pelt Show for a local afternoon bozo. Local advertising makes the station more money that carrying the network. Now I click on ESPN on my Internet radio and get Van Pelt.

My Internet radio is a full service receiver. It’s got a night light, clock, alarm and full rich sound. I use it just like my old clock radio. When I go to bed, the radio sits on a night stand about two feet from my head. I imagine this is how most people use their WiFi Internet Radio.

Yet it comes with a remote control.

How lazy do the C. Crane people think I am?

Ken Hoffman

Columnist, Houston Chronicle