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The Romance of Radio Rediscovered on the iPod Nano

iPod Nano

iPod Nano

I probably don’t have to convince anyone reading Radio Survivor that radio rules. But just in case you need some persuading, I’d like to share a beautifully written love-letter to radio (written by a reviewer at Popular Mechanics of all places).

While checking out the new FM radio feature on the iPod Nano, former college radio DJ Seth Porges rediscovered what he once loved about radio. He writes that his listening habits expanded beyond his self-selected mp3s, broadening to include radio after a 10 year hiatus:

“…my once-rigid playlist of personal standards has suddenly been infiltrated by daily doses of NPR, college radio and the occasional classic rock riff. Yes, Apple has pushed me back into FM radio…

…there’s something inimitable and raw about radio. The way it fades into static as you drive out of a city or go too deep into a subway tunnel. The unyielding perkiness found in over-caffeinated morning-show hosts. The exceedingly obvious playlists compiled by classic rock stations.

The way college radio DJs (of whom I was once one) punctuate every other word with an ‘uhhh’ or ‘you know.’ This nostalgia is only bolstered by the fact that, for many of us, the radio was our first introduction to music.

For others, constructing a crystal radio kit was a DIY rite of passage. Sure, it’s middle-of-the-road stuff, but it’s also a distinct sort of fun that can’t be replicated by self-programmed playlists—or even the niche programming of satellite radio.”

He finishes the piece by postulating that the new Nano may even work to “introduce a new generation—and reintroduce an old one—to FM radio’s unique listening format.” And wouldn’t that be grand? Earlier this year I heard someone describe radio tuners for iPhones as being akin to transistor radios in terms of the way that they will help to transform radio listening. So, I do think he might be on to something here.

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4 Responses to The Romance of Radio Rediscovered on the iPod Nano

  1. buffalochipz September 25, 2009 at 9:35 pm #

    I bought a new Nano yesterday specifically because it had an FM radio. My understanding is that the only reason Apple decided to finally include one was to increase iTunes purchases. When you can see the artist and title of a song while it’s playing on the radio (if the station utilizes the Radio Data System) they hope you buy it for 99 cents later on. I guess that’s why there’s no AM radio as it’s pretty much music programming-free.

  2. cclem September 30, 2009 at 12:40 pm #

    As a veteran Broadcaster of 30 years, I applaud Steve Jobs and Apple for adding an FM tuner to the iPod with it’s “Tivo” abilities to pause and reverse live Radio!

    However I can’t help but think; Why just analogue FM? Why not IBOC “HD FM Digital Radio”?

    Don’t misunderstand. I’ll take this 1st step bringing back Radio to listeners who have been listening to their own iPod mixes and not even knowing FM existed till Apple brought it back.

    However, this continues to demonstrate completely that Digital Terrestrial HD Radio is a bogus flight of fancy which this iPod upgrade proves so entirely.

  3. Jennifer Waits October 1, 2009 at 11:34 am #

    Thanks for the comments!

    It’s been a long time since I’ve listened to radio on a portable device (I remember listening to FM radio on my Walkman back in the day…even on an airplane, which is sadly no longer allowed) and this definitely seems like a great way to make radio portable again.

  4. pkm May 22, 2010 at 2:07 am #

    cclem : Maybe including a “hd radio” decoder would increase costs where as an FM chip is “cheap as chips”.

    my old creative zen,and philips go gear have FM tuners. When an apple product has a missing feature and they later add it, its like the world has entered a new epoch?


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