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Doh! I forgot to own an AM/FM radio receiver!

I just finished listening to the latest Radio Survivor podcast and as usual it is informative and lots of fun. Paul Riismandel and Eric Klein were having at it over the latest #infinitedial stats. I’ve transcribed a bit of the chat:

Paul: Here’s one of the big headlines about and it kind of actually blew me away a little bit. It’s a little scary.

Eric: Drumroll . . .

Paul: 21 percent of American households no longer own a radio.

Eric: Hmmm [nota bene – very dark sounding hmmm].

Paul: So that’s a radio receiver.

Eric: In the house. Not in the car.

Paul: In the house. That’s an important point. No longer have a radio in the house. If we break it down by age group 32 percent of Americans 18 to 34 do not have a radio receiver in the household.

Eric: Yeah. That makes sense to me. I had to go out of my way to buy my son a radio recently . . . We bought a used boom box. I don’t think he even uses it to listen to radio, though . . .

As I was listening to this discussion, I realized that I don’t use a home AM/FM radio receiver any more. I mean, I’ve got a boom box somewhere too, but I never listen to it at all. And I am most certainly not 18 to 34, that’s for sure.

How do I listen to radio at home? Overwhelmingly on my desktop computer. My two rave fave radio stations are WQXR-FM in New York City and KUSP-FM in Santa Cruz, California. They’re both mainly music stations (classical and Adult Album Alternative, respectively). I guess I’m still listening to the broadcast signal, but of course I’m listening to it streamed over The Internets, as Dubya used to say.

The place where I still listen to pure old school AM/FM is, as implied above, in my car. As I drive around Santa Cruz, I’m almost always tuned to KUSP or the University of California’s station KZSC-FM. Do I listen to music or radio stations over my mobile? Rarely. The last time I tried to use QXR’s mobile app, it worked so badly I gave up. And frankly, I have come to really detest the small mobile Internet device in general, but that’s another story.

Thank you Eric and Paul for noticing how much my radio listening life has changed! Jennifer Waits, by the way, is also on the podcast with an interesting response to a recently published critique of college radio for its generic “self-imposed smallness.”


“I don’t think small is bad at all. And in fact when I have a choice, you know there are some colleges that have a big, well financed radio station in addition to a small underfunded basement station. I will visit the small station before I will visit the large station. I like the underdogs. I like stations where students have more control, have creative control, and often that’s the case when a station is small and doesn’t have a lot of oversight. So that’s why I gravitate towards those stations.”

Jennifer also notes that quite a few colleges have won Low Power FM permits over the last year. There’s another interesting trend, I might add, and that is student run online radio stations that don’t seem to be formally affiliated with any particular college or university. They’re sort of forged out of an alliance of students from various institutions. See my profile on radio out of Montreal as an example.

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