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That's audio, this is radio.

(2 minute read.)

The stuff which knits it together is vital.

This is an era of 'pick just what you want' podcasts and personalized music services. So how can radio be appealing, or even relevant?

Perhaps more importantly, why is it becoming increasingly popular… with more people listening, and for longer?

The answer is really simple: radio is different (and can be more) than user-customisable audio-delivery services.

I'm not here to argue which is better; just that they’re different and shouldn’t be lumped under the same term.

Radio is…

A mixture of audio programs comprising individual pieces of content… assembled into an attractive, informing, entertaining and engaging blend.

More than just the individual elements, it's the curation and mix that's critical to great radio (something that should be done by people who know and care about what they're doing).

That it isn't controlled by the listener, and hence delivers unexpected and sometimes surprising stuff, can be an advantage.

Communication from one human to another is an important and often overlooked factor; and it's something that personal music players and those 'jukebox' online services with user-generated playlists can't cover.

Part of the essence and enjoyment of radio is that others are listening too.

In similar-and-different ways to Twitter and Facebook it's a shared experience. People can discuss and share with others what they are hearing on radio. (The 'jukebox' services can be the audio equivalent of solitary confinement.)

… and good radio feels very personal.

Some of us who're old enough might get misty-eyed when remembering the role radio had in our younger years… opening-up and bringing-in stuff we'd likely otherwise never have encountered.

I really enjoy a good DJ/host, and can remember staring at the radio waiting for that familiar voice to come on.

It wasn't 'ten songs in a row'… but instead a vibrant blend of news, culture, current events, art, music, politics, and all the rest.

If all you want is audio it's ok.

But there's no human connection.
No description of the tracks I'm listening to.
Nothing to tell me why I might like these tracks.
No stories.
No relevance to me and my life.
Just non-stop music.

Maybe I'm being too nostalgic?

[And to think of BlogTalkRadio as radio is plain wrong. It's a tech provider which facilitates self-broadcasting, and has a site full of podcasts (which is of course ok, but isn't radio).]

Radio has a bright future. In most developed countries, the vast majority of people use it, and it's the only medium that you can fully use while doing something else.

[Credit where due, much of what's here is adapted from James Cridland.]

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