It is the reponsibility of the child to listen to whatever music irritates his or her parents. Imagine trying to do that with three adults in your house with their own eclectic tastes. Dad likes classical, jazz and trippy jazz fusion bands like Weather Report. Mom likes show tunes and 1960s rock and roll. Grandma liked country and gospel. As a child of the 1980s, the result is a lifelong love of Def Leppard and the Pet Shop Boys.

I got my first radio in the mid-1980s-- a clock radio. A regular desktop radio with a non-functioning tape deck quickly followed. In Lawrence, Kansas, one could listen to a surprising variety of radio stations. We had a few stations in town, plus the stations from Kansas City and Topeka. I tried adult contemporary first, as a way to placate my mom. Back then, adult contemporary meant soft music. But I tired of it quickly and settled on Top 40 and album rock. When I declare my love of Def Leppard and the Pet Shop Boys, I'm not joking. At the time, I thought "Photograph" and "West End Girls" were two of the greatest songs in the history of recorded music.

As with most concepts, it took a while for me to catch on to popular music. Did I like Michael Jackson? A classmate once asked me, and I shrugged. I had heard the Chipmunks sing songs by Billy Joel and Devo before I heard the original tunes. My idea of good music was side two of a Mickey Mouse disco cassette.

Growing up in the 1980s also meant a permanent link between music and music video. We had MTV starting around 1983. My parents hated it. They prohibited me from watching, so I had to view in secret whenever possible. I'm not sure of the objection. Most videos involved bands standing on a plain white soundstage, or the song dubbed over concert footage. Brother, was I disappointed when I found out MTV did not play Michael Jackson's "Beat It" video at the same time each day, like a scheduled program.