Radio, a Dying Medium(?)

I can only ever recall listening to one radio show, in the car with my dad called “Elliot in the Morning.” I don’t even know what station its on. It’s pretty funny, sometimes inappropriate, and takes callers which I like. I never listen to it by myself but if I’m ever in the car with him on a weekday morning it will most definitely be playing. Needless to say, I don’t know much about radio.

Listening to Ira Glass’s series on radio storytelling shed a lot of light onto broadcast media for me. In part one I learned something that seems to be a theme in college: forget what you learned in high school. Throwing out the heavily structured way we are taught to tell stories allows more freedom and naturalness to come through in the stories we tell. The way Glass describes storytelling, as an anecdote that constantly raises questions and links back to a moment of reflection, resonates with me as the way every good story I have ever encountered is composed. I hadn’t really thought of all the things good stories have in common, and Glass hits it on the head.

In part two  I learned how time is allocated to storytelling. It makes a lot of sense that it takes a long time to find a good story, and that part of the job is setting aside time to look for stories. Especially from a reporter’s point of view, finding a good story is the essence of the job. It surprised me how many stories Glass says get killed. Obviously everything can’t make the final cut, but 1/3 to 1/2 of stories getting killed seems steep to me. Of course, if you are searching a large volume of stories in the first place, maybe this number isn’t so daunting after all. Not all stories can be or deserve to be told.

Part three  connected me to really any creative profession there is. You will not be the best at first, and you night not even be good. Having good taste is the start of success, but hard work and trial and error weed out the bad habits and ideas we once thought were good. Glass claims that everyone in a creative profession goes through this phase, and I have to agree. Having potential is wonderful, but it is not the same as being good. I feel this way a lot because of this class; I know how I want my projects to turn out but I don’t yet have the knowledge or skills to get me to the end product I want. Like Glass says, only practice and volume of work can fix this.

Lastly, part four is basically a lesson on being yourself. No body wants to listen a weird try-hard, so just act natural and be yourself. Talking like a regular human goes a long way, especially in a medium that only showcases voice and sound. Also, it is important to remember the balance of storytelling. There should always be interaction between people, as that is the nature of storytelling itself.

Jad Abumrad makes a few good points on radio as well. He opens by saying that radio doesn’t have images the way tv does, and that that might be off-putting to some. To that some I say: you can’t always be watching tv. Say you are like my dad, who has a long commute and wants to be entertained and not just listen to music, and obviously can’t watch tv while driving. Or maybe you are in the shower and want to listen to a story (assuming you aren’t one of the weirdos who has a tv in the bathroom), that story must come from radio. And what about blind people? Images aren’t everything, people. A good story is more important.

Anyways, Abumrad makes the argument that radio is an intimate medium because it takes a co-authorship of the person being broadcast and the listener to create the story, which inspires an empathy that other forms of media can’t deliver. I do agree that radio can bring people closer together and inspire empathy. He asserts that radio will never die, and after listening to these two men’s opinions, I may join that train as well.

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