Is radio a dead medium?

Or are podcasts revitalizing the radio industry?
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Created by Polya

Published on Apr 16, 2021
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Growing up a millennial, I never listened to the radio. It was always about listening to the latest pop hits of Rihanna, Jason Derulo or whoever. Even after my teenage years had passed, my behaviour did not change. As I was moving between different music genres my ears were deaf to the sound of radio.

Little by little I started hearing from friends about podcasts. I heard about all the interesting facts, the lessons, and the true crime stories you could listen to. But as I tried my luck, I kept ending up in a dead end. After the fourth time of trying out podcasts and not finding one that I genuinely enjoyed, I thought that I was just not meant to listen to the radio. I thought there were ‘radio people’ (that is what I called them) – people who enjoyed listening to podcasts.

Then the turning point in my life happened. To preface, I am a journalism student and as part of my education I had to learn how to record radio pieces, edit them, and I even ended up on a radio show as the presenter. In the beginning of the course we were told that “Radio is the most intimate media” and I thought that this was a bunch of nonsense, however this changed over the next seven weeks. During one of the radio assignments, a person opened up to me. He shared some aspects of society that have bothered him in relation to his weight (I was working on a piece about obesity, which this person suffered from). And there I was, speechless, listening to him and not having a response for the first time in my life.

The real breaking point that made me love and appreciate radio was the creative side behind putting together a piece. Yes, it is difficult, yes it takes time, and yes, you will probably mess it up the first couple of times, but the result is worth the work put in it. The more I had to work on producing radio, the more I realised my passion for it. This is how my radio love was born. Over time, I developed my own routine for listening to podcasts, and little by little I reached the conclusion that radio is not a dead medium. In fact, once you manage to find the proper voices, the proper topics and the proper length, it can be a very entertaining, funny and enjoyable experience. And yes, I finally agree at this point that radio is the most intimate medium. Once you are on your own with your headphones on it is just you and somebody else’s voice. It could make you laugh or cry. It just takes the right person with the right story to touch your soul and you may end up in tears.

The best thing about this medium is that there is a huge number of podcasts out there. You name a subject and someone is chatting about it – news, movies, true crimes, personal stories and so on and so forth. It just takes a couple of clicks on a keyboard or a smartphone in order to get to somebody’s personal story. In my opinion, the most touching things are always the true stories where people open up in front of the interviewer. Once the trembling of somebody’s voice is heard or the happiness in their tone, or even their tiny giggles, then the radio has done its job properly.

Before judging if radio is a dead medium, give it a real go. Try to listen for more than 5 minutes, and more than one show, because there is a high chance you won’t find your thing immediately. Maybe it is a matter of finding voices you find appealing, or a topic that can capture your imagination, but there truly does exist a podcast for every listener willing to listen.

My biggest piece of advice is this: before making a final judgement, give everything a fair chance to prove itself worthy of 2% of your phone battery, and half an hour of your day.

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