Arthur Rourke Goodbye Radio As We Know It

For as long as it'sexisted, radio has been held in a somewhat strange realm of being accessible but not necessarily relevant. Television affords us a grand opportunity to completely escape our sub-standard lives. Radio merely distracts us from the white noise in the background of our workdays. It helps us trudge through the monotony of everyday life by being the soundtrack to our lives. At the very least it creates a novel distraction on the drive into work.

But with the advent of readily available portable music devices, what does that leave for radio? The on-air talent may be entertaining for shock value, the music is relevant and the charts are representative of what people seem to be listening to. Otherwise, every tidbit of information is available through other means. Television, internet, newspapers, and various media applications on smart phones can easily replace the necessity of radio, at least in the terrestrial sense.

The only saving grace for radio is that the fact that it is accessible for free. For all the frugal folks who despise being tethered to mass media through the umbilical cord of cable, radio affords them a free pass. Although the vast majority of radio stations are owned by those same mass media outlets, there are still a number of stations that are not. They broadcast from basements, lauding their accomplishments and chastising the general public for their failure to recognize the faults that are ripping society apart. These people aren’t all crack pots. Some certainly are, but as with anything there are often diamonds in the rough.

The advent of internet radio may be the saving grace for the medium. It allows people to continue in the direction of pirate radio. They can expound their ideas and the legal restrictions of what we consider normal radio don’t apply. Plus they can use the internet to expose things that the mass media would like to keep under wraps. This is the bread and butter of the conspiratorial fanatics who rant about things that other people don’t even consider. Perhaps the fact that the internet offers them an outlet to expound the innards of their meandering minds often sullies the reputation of what could be a worthwhile industry.

As the world continues to evolve, and outdated medium like radio has struggled to keep up to the pace. They can’t innovate what has been a stale concept since the late 1980’s. If radio is going out, will anyone actually notice? In all honesty no one cares. They will still have music playing in their cars, people shouting their opinions without being asked, and the over produced sound of lasers will still exist in the minds of any Star Wars fans. People barely notice it now, and if it goes away, no one will mind except for when they want to know what is making the highway so damned packed.

Comments

I second the mnieton of WFMU as one of America's most eclectic stations. I would also mnieton KGNU in Boulder. While I think their daytime programming could be more adventurous, I mnieton them because they have managed to have a strong news and public affairs department that mixes a vibrant locally produced news/info with syndicated material. As far as the balance between news and music time, that has held steady over a long period of time, despite financial pressures due to purchasing a building for a badly needed new studio, and picking up an AM station in Denver that costs a lot of money.

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