On to the Next One
With its constant stream of commercials and overplayed pop music, the radio doesn’t have what it takes to survive the next decade.
By Terry Mooney, Ohio State University
In a world of transparent TVs, 3-D glasses and virtual-reality headsets, the sense of a technologically idealized future, presented in movies like “Back to the Future,” seems closer than ever.
However, Marty McFly would fall off his hoverboard if he fired up the DeLorean and made it to 2017, only to be greeted with the most outdated form of technologically powered entertainment: the radio.
I’m sure a few students reading this may be breaking out into full panic and meticulously crafting death threats in defense of the radio (you can DM those to @tmoon17). I’ll likely hear pleas along the lines of, “You’re not listening to the right stations!” or “‘106.8 Soft Rock in the Morning’ understands me more than my parents do.”
I would say to these defenses that you’re all a bunch of damn hippies (only kidding), but I am quite serious in regard to my criticism of the aging form of entertainment. The radio, which once brought families together to listen to wholesome programs, now churns out constant advertisements, playing the occasional clean-edited “Top 20” song and serving as nothing more than background noise for a driver whose car doesn’t have AUX-cord capabilities.
In a society dominated by the consumption of pop music and “Top 40” countdowns, the radio serves as a breeding ground for the incessant repetition of the same ten to twenty songs, peppered in between with mind-numbing commercials to help listeners forget that they already heard this song twenty minutes prior.
I once heard the Chainsmoker’s “Closer” played three times over the course of an hour drive, and the only thing I was closer to was driving my car off the road into a ditch. To be fair, there are still plenty of decent channels dedicated to various genres of music, such as rock and country, that offer a wider range of songs and still garner a decent number of listeners. Though, even these channels aren’t spared from constant commercials and corny commentary from disc jockeys.
In a world where TV commercials can be fast forwarded or eradicated entirely, with services like Netflix, Hulu and HBO GO, you can only cringe when you hear a song begin on the radio, only to quickly realize it’s actually Mike from your local Chevrolet dealer reminding you it’s Chevy truck month in his remixed rendition of Drake’s “One Dance.” The argument can be made that it is for this reason that Satellite Radio exists, though nowadays when everything from phone plans to TV contracts to internet bundles need to be constantly upgraded, radio finds itself taking a backseat, and maybe it’s for a good reason.
While all the aforementioned services are subjected to constant and considerable advancement, the radio seems unwilling to change, stuck looking back upon its heyday with a sense of nostalgia. Cable and broadcast networks continuously push the envelope in terms of what they’re allowed to say on air, using more expletives and derogatory terms, which accurately reflect society’s increasingly gritty language and use of slang. Radio continues to play “clean versions,” editing out offensive language or replacing it with similar sounding words, which can really chip at the song’s meaning and overall quality.
A$AP Rocky’s “F**king Problems” has a hook that goes, “I love bad bitches, that’s my fucking problem ,” which the radio lazily edits into “I love bad, bad that’s my, that’s my problem.” The edit makes about as much sense as having sex with the Planter’s Mr. Peanut guy when you have a severe peanut allergy. Although editing is especially evident in rap music, it affects nearly every genre and will continue to do so as artists take more liberties with their lyrics.
The radio has faithfully served the world for generations, from sending young children in the 1940s rushing to their living rooms to hear evening programs to unifying the off-pitched screams of teenagers singing along to their favorite songs. With the changing times and adoption of audio advancements like the CD and auxiliary cord, however, the radio no longer serves the purpose it once did, and thus should be put to rest. Rest in peace to the radio (1906-2017).