Sunday, April 27, 2014

Radio: Radio Radio

Elvis Costello: Radio Radio
Purchase: Amazon link to MP3

You are well aware of the historical importance of the electronic radio.  As in: the family gathered around the device back in the 40’s. Moving into the 50’s and 60’s, radio provided the main medium for disseminating current trends: the Top 10, musical hits, the news, traffic updates and more. AM and then FM radio, replaced by Internet media and satellite radio … the radio used to be how you learned about “cool” music.

Living overseas  (briefly in the US in ’65, when rock/pop began to pervade my being), I relied on Radio Luxemburg: a “pirate” radio station that I tuned in to via shortwave radio. Shortwave reception was decidedly flakey: the sound modulated in and out: more out than in. The “band” seemed to move around such that half the listening effort was in trying to tune in the station so that I could catch the rest of the song, This undoubtedly gives me a deeper/different perspective on Marconi’s invention (and- as a result - the miracle of the Internet)

When MTV video clips first came out (who even watches MTV or knows about it any more?!), we would record  them to VHS video  tape so that we could watch them again. (How quaint!) Obviously, YouTube, “on demand” viewing of music videos (and the Internet) were pie-in-the-sky dreams at that time.

This raises the question that media companies have been faced with since the ‘90s : whither radio? Is the solution Serius satellite radio? iTunes “Radio” and their ilk? Why even bother with blogs like this? Why not pay a few dollars and get access to a million-song archive (that I can carry in my pocket and access on demand?)

Costello was certainly not the first to focus on the issue of how the “powers that be” used all-pervasive media (TV? Internet? and radio?) to guide us/command us. Think 1984. The lyrics of the song tell you:

you better listen to the voice of reason
But they don't give you any choice
'cause they think that it's treason.
So you had better do as you are told.
You better listen to the radio.

I no longer listen to radio. How ‘bout you?

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