The Death of Radio

broken_radio1 If you have any musical taste whatsoever, you probably do not rely on radio for your daily musical fix. Radio is useful for traveling, but it has always been limited, especially while driving across state lines, through forests and in back woods areas. Broadcasts cut out every few miles, but does this really matter? Most stations' programs are awful, particularly now that they are almost all controlled by Clear Channel.

It is important for our government to update our technological infrastructure, and I think it is time for traditional radio to be die or to be reinvented.

The death of traditional FM and AM radio will allow indie and new classical music to have a fighting chance. Updated technology will allow us to easily listen to a mix of podcasts and traditional radio shows side by side, even in cars.

Many people—myself included—are only listening online or on cell phones. Some of my favorite listening experiences are podcasts, and I almost never listen to radio anymore, but that is because I like listening to what I want when I want—and I don't drive much.

We think we are way ahead in the U.S., but are actually way behind Japan and many other developed countries. Our rural areas often lack cell sites, but most urbanites are indifferent until they have to take a drive in the country and their mobile phones cease to work. Once cell sites become more common in rural areas, most people will listen to radio shows via cell sites (even solar-powered cell sites), Satellites or through broadband connections at home.

If I do want to listen to radio, which might be useful for a live broadcast of a friend's premiere in a far-away city, I could use Pandora (for traditional radio stations) or eventually, Sirius satellite radio on my iPhone. This is the same reason that I almost never watch something on the television when it actually airs; I just record it with our RCN equivalent of Tivo. DJ's were useful in the past, but I think that Podcasts have taken over, and now I often find out about new releases through podcasts.

Some say it is not cost effective to put cell towers in rural areas, but I think part of the reason businesses do not locate to areas like Middlebury, VT is because of the lack of broadband and cell phone coverage. Small-scale farmers and other traditional businesses (candle makers, microbreweries, etc.) would also benefit from upgraded infrastructure. I have heard the argument that businesses should not be located in rural places, but you cannot grow maple sugar trees in Manhattan or ski in Florida.

If infrastructure in one area improves, there will be more incentives to upgrade other areas. With more cell towers and better broadband, more businesses will locate to less populated towns. High-speed rail systems will hopefully follow. This is all theoretical, or course, but I think there is some truth to it.

With cell sites and reliable broadband access, a maple syrup company will be able to effectively use the Internet to market their products to customers in California, but if they are limited to dial-up, which is crushingly slow, they will mostly sell locally through cooperatives or to larger companies, or by using snail mail lists, which is not always cost effective. Better technology will help small businesses.

All musicians—especially composers and classical musicians—need to push for upgraded infrastructure, especially where technology is concerned. Many of our biggest fans lie in out of the way places. It is in our best interest to push for traditional radio to die a quick death.