Like the digital watch, the radio-alarm clock was at one time a marvelously new idea. Instead of having to wake up to an annoying brrrriinnggg sound you could wake up to the sound of your favourite radio station. Now though, these clocks are so cheap you can buy them on the market for a few quid. There are many different designs, but they are all invariably made of cheap plastic with an LED display. Though these alarm clocks may seem useful, they have a few crucial failings.
The Snooze Button
The 'snooze button' is legendary. You set your alarm for a generous time in the morning and go to bed thinking everything will be okay. Then when the radio comes on at the specified time to wake you up with some cheesy pop song, the first thing you do is fumble around to hit the snooze button. The snooze button is programmed to give you another ten minutes sleep (or whatever the time is set to). When the ten minutes is up, the radio comes back on and the whole process starts again. In the words of this Researcher:
The snooze button is just asking for it. One Sunday I pressed it over ten times to give me another couple of hours in bed.
The Sleep Button
The 'sleep' button is yet another button whose name doesn't really define its purpose. Pressing the sleep button causes the radio to come on for 59 minutes (by default, though this can be adjusted to between 1 minute and 1 hour 59 minutes using the other buttons) and then go off suddenly. If you use the radio-alarm, this is actually one of the most useful buttons, as it allows you to put the radio on when going to bed without having to worry about turning the radio off before you fall asleep.
The 'Buzzer' Setting
As well as being able to wake up with the radio, radio-alarm clocks also let you wake up to a more conventional alarm sound. To select which method you use there is an incredibly fiddly little switch which moves between 'on' (radio on), 'off' (radio off), 'alarm' (radio-alarm is functioned) and 'buzzer' (buzzer alarm is functioned). This switch is so cheap that it soon wears out, and you can often hear a faint beeping even when the radio alarm is switched on. The worst, however, is when the buzzer alarm is accidentally switched on. You will be very rudely awoken:
'Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep!...'
The beeping alarm sound will certainly wake you up in the morning, but it will wake you up with a frightened jolt and is so loud that it will probably wake everyone else up too. The tone is so annoying that you will never use this setting unless you really have to.
Advantages of Radio-alarm Clocks
The best thing about radio-alarm clocks is that they allow you to regularly listen to the breakfast show of whichever radio station happens to be your favourite without too much effort. Listening to the radio in the morning will become part of your daily routine and you will soon be familiar with all the voices of the presenters on the show. Radio-alarm clocks are in fact probably responsible for boosting radio listening figures in the morning so that the breakfast show slot is one of the most listened to.
Without radio-alarm clocks you also wouldn't be able to have the sensation of dreaming about events that suddenly become true when you wake up. Many a time has this Researcher dreamt about bombs going off at BBC Television Centre and earthquakes happening only to wake up and find that they are true. What is happening on the radio can easily become part of your dream (admittedly this defeats the point of having a radio alarm if you don't wake up, but it's an interesting sensation nevertheless).