Wireless. It’s hip, it’s modern, it’s what’s new. It’s also retro, quaint, and old fashioned. Radio has been around for more than a hundred years, had its “Golden Age” before television “killed” it years ago. Not so much killed it, I suppose, as severely wounded it.
And yet, radio endures. Commercial radio, however, is now as television was famously spoken of as being more than forty years ago (not like it’s gotten any better since; it’s just harder to find the programming that’s really worth your time). If it’s not computer programmed limited playlists aimed at a particular demographic, sports, sports talk, talk, news/talk, etc., then there seems to be precious little airtime devoted to it. There are still a few independent stations out there and, of course, there is public radio in its various guises (here, here, and here, for example).
Don’t get me wrong. As much I might protest, I still watch my fair share of TV. But I have always found it to be too selfish – it demands all of my attention. Radio on the other hand, is content to be a companion while I do other things, like wash the car, cook dinner, do dishes, read, write, study, etc. Television just takes way, way too much of my attention. It’s just way too needy, and I resent it. Consequently, I probably listen to more radio than I watch television. And streaming video on the computer, while it offers a potentially richer multimedia experience, is still a demanding mistress.
Radio, on the other hand, is a comforting (and comfortable) friend, not demanding all of my attention. I can still do other things while listening to the radio. Try to watch Food Network and cook at the same time and I’m likely to lose some digits.
Baseball is best on AM radio. FM is where I grew up with pop and rock music. Shortwave still has its attractions, though it is losing ground to streaming audio on the Internet (which is fine if you have high speed Internet, not like there’s a lot of that still in some parts of the world, though). Satellite radio is kind of like radio’s cable TV but… What? What’s that you say? Internet radio? Well, the biggest problem with that has been its need for a computer. Even with a wireless connection a computer is a clumsy thing to use just to listen to music or some other favorite program (like this, this, or this). Not so much any more with the advent of wireless Internet radio.
Wireless Internet radio is a really appealing idea, as long as you’re listening to a live stream, and I might be interested in it just for that, but what about archived programs? Nope. Seems we’re just talking about live streams, not the program you wanted to listen to yesterday and is available as archived audio. Nuts. And just when I was getting excited about this, too.