Monday, February 25, 2013

Listening In - Response

Image taken from the Flickr photostream of Sveeta Bogomolova and used under a Creative Commons Licence.

Reading this article, I was struck by how nostalgic I felt thinking about sitting around the radio at night with my family, listening in, or laying in bed late at night listening. But those things never happened; I was feeling nostalgic about something I never actually experienced.

That's not to say radio didn't have some effect on my life. As I've said in a previous post, when I was younger every morning in the car on the way to school my mom would have Mojo in the Morning on, and we would listen to things like the war of the roses segment or the prank calls. I remember always being sad that I couldn't finish the segments; it was a short drive to school.

As a kid, I also would make fake radio stations with my friend David. He had a karaoke machine, and we would talk like hosts into the microphone and play our CDs, while recording the whole thing onto casette tapes.

But I never went out for a drive late at night and listened to the radio, alone or with friends. Nowadays I always have my iPod with me, so I just listen to that if I'm out driving. Yet reading this article, I long to experience this type of listening. I think that's what the article has going for it, but I know that I only like the idea of radio; if I were to actually go back in time I'm fairly certain I would get bored.

There are commercials in radio! And people remember all of the great hosts and segments and music, but radio was on 24/7; it couldn't possibly be good all the time. I believe it's a romanticized memory. This isn't to say that there couldn't have been great content on the air, I'm sure there was, but there was also mediocre content, as with any medium, and I feel like I would get bored with radio.

Plus I have grown up in a fast paced world where people want what they want and they want it now. Today there's no time for bad content; if you're not creating something good and interesting I'm gonna tune it out. I have a short attention span and something needs to capture my attention in seconds or else I'll move on. This may not be true for everyone, and this isn't to say that I don't give things a chance, but I need to be hooked.

I'm not trying to say that radio today is bad or that watching TV or watching a movie is a better experience; in class I really liked the audio segments we listened to. Also, I didn't grow up in the era of radio so of course I'm going to have a different opinion of it. I'm sure older generations feel nostalgia for having actually experienced the things the article talks about. I know it was a very important cultural phenomenon.

One last thought. The radio talks about how people enjoyed radio so much because they were an active participant, because it stimulated their imagination. They could hear what was happening but needed to fill in the blanks. I think this idea of the "active participant"is really important in all mediums, but most important perhaps in radio. So in creating my own content, I need to keep this idea in mind.


  1. I had the same response to the article, I didn't realize how much radio has been a part of my life. But I rarely listen to the radio because I can't stand commercials and I totally agree that we want what we want when we want it - I get to pick the songs I want to listen to instead of waiting for them to come on the radio.

  2. You say that being an "active participant" in all mediums (media?) is important, but Douglas kind of slags on TV for making people passive. What does an active TV viewer look like? I'm not arguing against you at all, I'm just wondering how you would articulate your disagreement (is that too strong a word?).

    1. In terms of TV, I see an active participant being applicable on shows like Lost or on crime scene shows, where the viewer is encouraged to try and figure out what is happening, to kind of "solve the mystery." Even things like the finale of the Sopranos (spoiler alert?) allow for active participation.

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