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Podcasting, satellite, internet and broadcast: it’s all RADIO to us

We, your humble Radio Survivors, are unabashed fans of broadcast radio. That much should be clear to anyone who peruses our site. But we hope that readers also see that we don’t limit ourselves to the AM, FM and shortwave dials.

It’s vitally important to recognize that every time a new audio distribution technology comes along, the word “radio” comes along for the ride. When the first live audio streams went online in the mid-90s, did everyone call this “streaming internet audio?” No, they called it “internet radio.”

In the early 2000s when Sirius and XM first lit up their satellites hovering above the earth did they call it “satellite audio?” That’s right, they called it “satellite radio.”

Sure, “podcasting” doesn’t have the word radio in it. But the one-time neologism was built upon the conflation of “iPod” and “broadcast.” The latter word is certainly very related to radio, which was the first form of electronic broadcasting.

What this all means is that we see radio as a thriving, evolving and growing set of media united by the common application of distributing–or, broadcasting–audio programming to masses of people. Radio is the transmission of audio entertainment, information and art across a variety of media and formats.

Reading this one might wonder, “well, then, doesn’t that make records, CDs, audiobooks and album downloads some kind of radio, too?” My answer is that they’re close to radio, but don’t qualify as radio.

While services like Spotify and Rdio have blurred that line between listening to an album and listening to radio, radio is still a different experience. Music radio, in particular, is about delivering a curated experience that is more spontaneous, less processed, and more ephemeral than an album, which is comparatively crafted and composed. Sure, progressive rock radio often featured album sides, but the more frequent programming were carefully chosen DJ sets. Music radio is about the mix. And even though Pandora and deliver a mix programmed by an algorithm, the listening experience is more like that progressive rock station than a CD.

It’s not for nothing that Spotify calls its automated music streams “artist radio,” and Rdio is a semi-contraction of “radio” that needs to buy a vowel.

A point that’s hard to avoid is that these forms of radio all hearken back to the modes of presentation first pioneered in broadcast. The DJ, talk show and music set all originated with broadcast. Internet and satellite radio unambiguously crib these forms with the only big difference from broadcast being their method of transmission.

Podcasting is a particularly curious case, because in my opinion its invention reignited interest in radio forms by making it so much easier to distribute programs. Podcasting also gave listeners a kind of radio TiVo by relieving them of having to tune in to a station or stream at a particular time. The clever innovation of the automated download freed radio from the tethers of the cable and the electromagnetic wave, be it FM, AM, wi-fi or cell.

In fact, the rise of podcasting breathed life into forms of radio programming that had barely been heard from since the 70s, like radio drama and long-form comedy. Turns out that the international reach of podcasting means a particularly esoteric show can find hundreds or thousands of listeners, even if there may barely be a dozen potential fans in the broadcast radius of a single station.

This is just my long-winded way of saying that here at Radio Survivor we take all forms of broadcasted and transmitted audio programming. We think that makes our website unique. There are plenty of sites that do a good job of covering the broadcast industry, a particular radio personality or music and radio. But we haven’t found any that consistently look at the whole wide world of internet, satellite and broadcast radio. To us, it’s all RADIO.

This also means we intend to keep expanding our coverage, writing more about new online services, ways to improve the listening experience, new radio technologies, along with our continuing coverage of broadcast. In particular I hope to see us write more about podcasts and podcasting, since we’re seeing more artists, personalities and producers make the decision to completely bypass the broadcast and satellite gatekeepers, self-producing and distributing podcasts directly to audiences.

Back in August we made a call for writers and contributors, and we’re still looking. If you’ve considered writing about podcasting, satellite radio, internet radio or other radio forms–not just broadcast–then drop us a line.

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2 Responses to Podcasting, satellite, internet and broadcast: it’s all RADIO to us

  1. Max Flight November 18, 2011 at 2:50 pm #

    As a podcaster ( and I’ve been watching with interest the recent convergence of “podcasting” and “radio.” At least, a convergence in words and opinions. As a result, some podcasters strongly state “podcasting is NOT radio!” while at the same time I see radio folks starting to include podcasting in the scope of their conversations.

    Personally, I think podcasting and radio are more alike than they are different, but some of the differences are critical to determining where both go in the future.

    We’re in interesting times and I’m curious to see where Radio Survivor takes this conversation.

  2. cairns December 26, 2012 at 6:30 am #

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