Monday, 26 September 2011

Radio Head

With the advent of so many new forms of media that came with the technological age and the Internet, many traditional mediums of communication have come to be seen as obsolete. Rather than read the classifieds in the newspaper, nowadays people log onto Craigslist, Ebay or Kijiji; instead of tuning into the evening news at 11:00 on TV to find out what’s going on in the world, we watch the latest news report online on the Onion News Network whenever we please; and there’s no need to peruse celebrity tabloids at the grocery store checkout when we can just as easily load our Facebook news feeds on our smart phones to find out what all of our casual acquaintances are up to.

Radio is still relevant to me. How about you?
Image by Tungphoto.

There is, however, one traditional medium, which I still find to be quite relevant and interesting in my life. While many of you have probably ditched your radios in favour of iPod play lists, I believe that over-the-air radio is a medium worth holding onto.

I know that the reason many people prefer a personalized play list to a disc jockey’s lineup is that it gives them full control over what they hear. As someone who has very little critical knowledge of music, beyond being able to say that either I like or do not like a song, or genre of music, I find choosing a comprehensive list of songs to be a daunting task. I would much rather choose a genre that I would like to listen to, like rock, jazz or country, set the dial to a station, and let the disc jockey take it from there. It’s especially nice to be able to set it and forget it while driving in the car.

“But, don’t you hate all the darned commercials?” you might ask. I tend to see the inevitable advertisements that one must endure if they subscribe to my ‘set it and forget it’ method as the price that must be paid for having someone line up your play list for you. I, for one, am willing to pay that price. As a matter of fact, I quite enjoy listening to radio advertisements. Since radio is really the last surviving and not-dying form of local/regional media, you’re not subjected to the same boring standard national ads, as you are on Television or on the Internet. In fact, radio ads tend to be quite eclectic, with local small business owners recording their own commercials, and updating them weekly.

When I lived in range of Toronto radio stations, I always told myself that the next time I was in need of a business suit, I would go down to “Korry’s Clothiers, 569 Danforth Avenue,” or “Tom’s Place, right in the heart of Greek Town”, or that if I ever needed to buy some jewelry, that I would get it from Jack Berkovits at Omni Jewelcrafters.

If you’ve moved to a new city, listening to local radio stations is a great way to get to know the area. You’ll be sure to hear about events going on in the area, and hear interviews and sound bites with local celebrities. Just last year, I strangely began listening online to a radio station out of Burlington, Vermont*. For whatever reason, I liked the station, and continued to listen. Now, almost a year later, I still listen to this station, and I feel like I know the Burlington Vermont area pretty well. Now that I live closer to Vermont, I would definitely consider driving down to the area for a weekend to check out some of the events that are promoted on the station, and I would very likely check out some of the businesses that advertise with them.

So here’s you’re homework class: go online an start listening to a local radio station broadcasting from a city that you’ve always wanted to visit, but never have, or a random city that you’ve never even hear of. If you’re at all like me, you’ll learn a lot, and build an interesting image in your mind of what that city must be like, based on what you’ve heard on the radio.

Thanks for tuning in!

*I started listening to this station in December because they carry a syndicated radio host who plays great Christmas music in the evening that wasn’t available in my local area. I ended up listening to them around the clock.

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