In Defense of Radio

We are inundated with media every day in our rich capitalistic Western world: telly, movies, newspapers, podcasts, not to mention the dozens of social media websites us millenials depend on. But one often goes unnoticed, relegated to something that you only engage with if you’ve got a really old car. Radio.

Of course, I’m not suggesting we go back to the 1930s, everyone huddling around the radio listening to the news reports and dull ‘entertainment’ shows. But radio should have more of a presence in our life.

Yes, there are annoying DJs shouting about competitions to win a weekend away to Slough, and you can’t escape incessant advertising, and there will inevitably be tens or hundreds of songs you don’t like, played inbetween those you do. But there’s something for everyone. There are rock and indie stations (RIP XFM), with genuinely amazing giveaways and exclusive gigs. There are dance stations, pop stations, even classical if you’re into that. There’s woman’s hour and comedy on Radio 4. There’s everything! Dare I say it, there’s even a wider range than is on TV!

The best thing about radio is the feeling of community. You can text, email, or tweet in to your favourite DJ and hear their response to what you have to say. They might even call you back!  You don’t get that kind of dialogue with television.

My problem is that I don’t have an occasion to listen to the radio. If I’m on my laptop, I’m probably listening to music on youtube, or watching netflix. If I’m working or reading, I get distracted by talky radio. Even at work it’s illegal to play the radio in a restaurant without a license, so it’s a no-go there. I walk to campus and have no reason to commute anywhere. So I end up missing out on the pleasure of tuning in to the radio.

But the issue is deeper than that. We feel we need to be doing something all the time, we can’t just sit down, close our eyes, and listen. But try it – it’s so relaxing! In our busy busy world, this simple activity is a joy.


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