The second reason is a bigger deal. The show's new episodes--and by new, I mean starting with ep 734 and onwards--weren't grabbing me. The first reason the show wasn't keeping my attention was a lot of the club episodes--and some of the non-club episodes--felt contrived. Examples include The Launch, The Cure, The Dropbox, the few episodes with Wilson that I heard, The Boat People, etc. To be fair, other episodes in the club were really good, such as Pinocchio, and Hidden Gems. My other problem with the show was with the non-club shows. Everything was part of a storyline. Albums had all six episodes as a part of just one plot line. Slice of life episodes with the kids, or anyone else, felt few and far between, and the few of those we got had very few kids. The kid roster just felt small in general. And maybe this is because, where I started listening once I was already past the target age range, now I'm really, really past that age. To be fair a second time, non-club episodes still had some good ones scattered in--for example, David and Absalom was an absolute instant classic. Which might be the last new episodes I listened to, actually.
All that to say, I haven't really heard anything new from 2017 on. Before I spend money on a membership again and get all caught up--and I'm happy to see that the price dropped--I want to know; are the above issues still present? Were they ever (nice of asking if I'm just nuts)? Or did Odyssey find its feet again and adjust to the new club format/schedule?
I'm not that much help because I have a Club subscription (though like you, I also have a CD player in my car and prefer to listen that way), and I have always meant to listen to the Club episodes but still haven't.
I can say that there have been some good albums and episodes, and I think there would be some stuff you like, but can't comment on some of your questions. Hopefully someone else can!
So I would guess, even if we have radically different tastes, you might feel the same way, except about different episodes.
It also seems to me that there are fewer kids, and most of the kids are played by adults, which adds some dimension of quality but probably loses an equal amount of charm (no offence to the talented actors).
I don't like paying for the club because (1) it's pretty dang expensive, (2) I also prefer CDs, and I prefer them for my kids as well, (3) it irks me to have to pay for access to all the albums I/my parents already bought (some on tape, which I don't currently have access to), and (4) biggest of all, and a personal reason that I know doesn't apply to everyone here, I have extremely mixed feelings about giving money to FotF.
But Odyssey is basically my soap opera that I have been listening to since I was 8 or 9, and I am super invested in the characters at this point, so what I do is pay for a month every so often, when I know I'll have time to listen, get caught up, and then cancel again. And I let my kids listen along after I've screened the episodes and/or I introduce them to my favourite classics.