Radio Re-Invented – Again

I consider myself to be lucky in that I was a teenager during the tumultuous years of the 60s. autoradio android gps S160 video The changes we were part had a lasting impact on the world we now call home.

Music reflected, and in some cases incited, those changes and heard it all on the radio. In fact radio changed with us during those years as well with the emergence of free-form “underground” radio on the little used FM band.

We are in change again in 2009. While the transition may be less “in your face” than it was in the late 1960s, it will have no less of an impact, and again radio is reflecting those changes. There are few who would not acknowledge that the online revolution is truly upon us – that our lives are inextricably interwoven wit the internet, and we couldn’t undo it if we wanted to.

The impact can perhaps be best seen by looking at what is going on in contemporary radio. AM radio stations are now largely talk, and in many ways the political pundits who make their living being outraged at whatever is in the news are reminiscent of the old time preachers who plied their trade on the air several decades ago. Even FM radio, once the last bastion of creative freedom, is now so over-commercialized that one could scarcely recognize it.

Enter internet radio.

If you haven’t ventured into the world of online radio you have a great awakening coming. Every musical style and taste is catered for, and in many ways it’s that sheer volume of choices that reflects those social changes that we are living through.

Internet radio has done something else that perhaps will have even a greater impact – it has loosened the stranglehold that a few large corporations have on the electronic media. For those of us old enough to remember, we saw this happen as FM emerged as a viable radio medium.

It’s happening again, only this time the low cost of entry into the market and the fact that there is no practical limit to the number of stations that can broadcast online means that the genie is well and truly out of the bottle.

I hear critics belittle online radio as something that will never compete with AM and FM stations because it isn’t mobile. Well guess what, the cell phone companies and wireless internet providers have already taken care of that little problem, and US auto makers are now including internet radio receivers in some models of new cars.

To be fair there is still some time before the gap closes between AM and FM broadcasters and those stations streaming over the internet. In my view this is a good thing as online broadcasters still need some time to polish their act. There is no doubt, however, that the time of parody is coming.