There is little doubt that radio is one of the most intimate forms of media. It is accessible at any time, and nearly any place. It equally informs and entertains us, without any effort on our part. Best of all, it is free.
Up until a decade ago it was an expensive, limiting, and sometimes unrewarding decision to purchase music, and the only medium available was in compact disc. A cd would usually cost around twenty dollars, and it was often a gamble as to whether the songs on it would all be liked. Discmans, the ‘portable’ cd players, were expensive and relatively importable; radios were cheap and had a place in the car, the office, and every corner of the home. Owning music was second to listening to the radio for ones audible pleasures.
Then the Apple IPod came along. IPods are intimate and accessible like radios, but far more portable. The biggest difference though, is that users can put their own music on it, and in large amounts, for a very low price. So the question stands: Does radio have anything over the iPod?
In an interview with Andrew Denton, John Laws stated that ‘talk back radio replaced the back fence’. In the 1960’s when talkback was introduced to Australia, urban development was spreading upwards rather than out, and Australians in condensed areas began to feel out of touch with the community. The radio then rapidly became a medium where members of the community could express themselves about public issues.
Another benefit of radio is that it is a constant supply of headline news, weather, traffic reports, and in extreme cases, emergency warnings and updates. This gives listeners a connection to the community that iPods are incapable of.
Although iPods have become almost a necessity at least for younger generations, the advantages that radio has over the iPod makes it unlikely that we will see a significant demise in radio audiences.