I’ve been asked “Why radio?” a lot in the past few weeks, I think because when we think of radio, we often imagine the major commercial stations that feature the same 5 songs on repeat and endless commercials sandwiched between the voices of “crazy fart-joke guy” and “moody voice dude,” who are not actually in the studio but have pre-recorded the show the night before so they could sleep in while you are commuting to work.
Answering this question is both easy and impossible. I love/study/listen to radio because it’s a medium that’s available to everyone - a radio costs close to nothing, unlike a satellite radio or the plethora of (really great) web radio stations - it’s based in a community with which it can and should interact and it’s in some ways a companion while you are washing the dishes, driving, working, etc (unlike the TV). There is no glamor in it - it doesn’t matter what the hosts look like, it only matters what they say and how they relate to the audience, unlike film or tv in which the appearance of a person is almost more important than the message. There is an anonymity about it that can foster honest creativity (or honest confessions - those who grew up on Dr. Drew know what I’m talking about). And last, but not least, it can offer new discoveries that other mediums rarely do - be it music, literature, news, personalities, history…
Unfortunately, the vast majority of radio stations contain none of the above qualities, except that they’re overly-available often to the point of intrusive. Luckily they don’t all suck, and here are some of my favorite Cali stations, please feel free to add yours in the comments:
For more info on these types of stations, check out Spinning Indie. Jennifer does a great job with her radio station field trips, giving a more intimate look into the behind the scenes workings of independent radio.