My shop is an "authorized Becker" repair facility. As a result I don't know to much about the radios, they are all handled by experts and I am just an automobile tech. The popping is not right and probably is a bad contact or capacitor problem internally. One thing that might help in seeking a station is the "*" button. If you press the asterix button then you can type in the station number you want. (only works for stations you know the number to obviously). For station 93.7, press the "*" and then the "9", then the "3", then the "7".
There has been lots writen about adjusting the tranny and diagnosis. For a hard down shift as the vehicle comes to a stop, check the vacuum to the modulator. It should be at a maximum (at least 10-15 inches of vacuum) with ones foot off the accelerator.
The axle play in and out of the CV joints is probably OK. It means that there is enough wear that the activity can be felt. The action is normal for that type of CV joint but normally can't be felt. If you have vibrations under load I would look to that shaft.
Just about all the components you list can cause creaking. The best way to test is on a drive-on lift with turntables (front end rack). The wheels can then be turned with similar loading as on the street. If done on a hanging lift the joints are all in different angles than normal and under the wrong tention.
Bosch Master, ASE Master, L1
33 years MB technician