Let’s not lie to ourselves here, commercial radio sucks ass. Especially in the context of music on the radio, it seems to me that popular radio stations today are just mediocre in content and annoying in presentation. From all of the unnecessary sound effects added throughout a program’s broadcast to the advertisements that seem to be played in rotation more frequently than songs, there is a lot to say about mainstream FM radio stations. This Family Guy clip shows exactly what I’m talking about:
The negative qualities that are associated with radio of this nature, however, are to be expected. The overt commodification and commercialization of music exists simply because that’s what radio stations are meant to do: rake in dollar bills through ad revenue and sponsorships.
While podcasts are not completely devoid of advertisements and product plug-ins, they generally exhibit such qualities much less frequently than do radio stations. Also, many interchange the term “podcast” with “public radio”. Even though this term has the word “radio” in its name, public radio stations are very much different from “private” radio stations such as 100.3 FM (Z100) or 92.3 FM (92.3 NOW). They rely much less on money from larger organizations and much more on donations made by subscribers and listeners.
The most important point that the article makes, in my opinion, is the fact that podcasts can more easily cater to niche audiences, whereas private radio stations need to have some sort of broad appeal to even properly function. Also, since podcasts are generally accessible via download or an online web player, they are much more user-friendly than private radio. You can rewind them, skip the intro, go to your favorite part, whatever. This sort of accessibility is usually not something you find in typical private radio. If you miss something that the host says during the broadcast, ya dun goofed son! I personally utilize SoundCloud to peruse the very few podcasts that I follow and in the event that I zone out and miss something, I just rewind back a couple of seconds and I’m all caught up.
Podcasts are an excellent way for individuals, especially college students like myself, to expose themselves to various worldviews and perspectives as well as solidify their own. Some of the most popular podcasts/public radio stations are those with a political edge to them, and for a good reason. These stations usually house political opinions that are unlike those found in the mainstream. For someone who fashions himself as a pretty progressive guy, I find podcasts and public radio to be a great way to see someone’s take on a recent political issue and formulate my own opinion on it. Traditional news media is often overtly laced with corporate or partisan biases, and while the same is true for certain public radio stations, it is especially true with conventional news media (ex: CNN, exhibiting a neutrality bias, and FOX, exhibiting an 80-year-old-with-dementia bias)
As you can probably tell, I prefer podcasts to radio any day of the week. Private radio just sucks nowadays. There is never any risk-taking or boundary-pushing conversation being held on mainstream radio. There is never any groundbreaking record being played on FM radio. The only thing that is circulated in these airwaves is the most polished, sugary, absurdly accessible, and safe dialogue and music. For that reason, I implore everyone who avidly listens to the radio to perhaps reconsider and try looking for some specific podcasts or public radio station that cater to your particular interests or quirks.
Shit’s dope, trust me fam.