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Losing the Magic of Radio?

Some of my Childhood 45s

Some of my Childhood 45s

I spend a lot of time thinking about how changes in technology are affecting radio.

I worry that the “kids” (college radio DJs as well as everyday folks) are getting lazier and lazier, bypassing physical music for digital, thinking that it’s easier to find and play.

I also worry that the pleasure of enjoying an entire album is being lost; even though there are still albums being created that beg for a complete listen.

In a piece in The Boston Globe, Steve Almond nicely captures some of these fears as he takes a look at his own feelings of nostalgia for physical music as he converts his record collection to digital files. He writes:

“…technology has made the pursuit of our pleasures much easier. But in so doing, I often wonder if it has made them less sacred. My children will grow up in a world that makes every song they might desire instantly available to them. And yet I sort of pity them that they will never know the kind of yearning I did.”

He points out that radio was part of this magic:

“As a young kid, before I could even afford records, I listened to the radio. I waited, sometimes hours, for the DJ to play one of the idiotic pop songs with which I’d (idiotically) fallen in love. And yet I can still remember the irrational glee I felt when the DJ finally did play ‘Undercover Angel’ or ‘The Things We Do for Love.’ This will sound sentimental and perhaps deranged to you whippersnappers out there, but I felt I’d been blessed. In fact, I’m sure I was.”

He makes an interesting point that music wasn’t at one’s fingertips back in the olden days, so people would call radio stations when the urge for a specific song struck. And when that song was played, it was magic for the listener. But, oddly enough, magic also comes in the form of unexpected songs and songs that have never been heard before. It’s the magic of allowing the DJ to surprise; by providing the gift of a requested track (which actually still happens today) or the gift of a new discovery.

Let’s just hope that the magic remains, even as technology changes.

Do you still find the magic in music and radio, even as the digital revolution marches on?


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