I saw this on Facebook recently:
Daughter: Alexa, play Let it Go.
Mom: When I was your age, I had to call the radio station, wait on hold for 30 minutes, then sit by my Boom Box for an hour with a blank cassette waiting for my song to play so I could record it.
Daughter: I don’t know what that means.
The interesting part of this is not that the daughter can’t or won’t do what her mother did; it’s that she responds “I don’t know what that means.”
I saw a lot of comments on this, mostly from Boomers and Gen Xer’s missing those days. But I saw a couple that said, “glad those days are over.”
At first I thought it was blasphemy. Until I remember the first person to actually say she “didn’t like the Beatles” (Believe it or not it was actually actress Sharon Stone’s sister). And Jackson Browne’s words came crashing down on me. “Make room for my 45’s besides your 78’s, nothing survives…but the way we live our lives.”
And that brings me back to “radio”. What many of us still in or around the industry forget is that radio is and always was more than one thing. To the mom in the story, it was a way to get her song on cassette so she could listen over and over. To another it was the relationship with the disc jockey…or perhaps someone to keep her company after a bad date or break up…or something to go to sleep with…or to wake up to. To my father it was a source of news…and a place to listen to games. (as a youngster going to a Brooklyn Dodger game that was rained out, his father told him, “don’t worry, we can listen on the radio. (Dad jokes are eternal.) To my grandparents it was to listen to President Roosevelt, and “What’s My Line.” And on and on…
Radio has changed dramatically. It will never, ever be many of those things again. Instead of taping the BeeGees singing, “I started a Joke”, it’s now telling Alexa to play Dua Lipa over and over. The President now appears on TV; every baseball game is on some sort of video.
As a society we preach patience; yet most innovations are about getting something quicker and easier.
While terrestrial Radio will never go away, it will continue to change. Whether that’s better or not will be in the eye of the beholder. But trying to stop those changes is like telling your adorable son or daughter not to grow up. Good luck with that!