A long long time ago (more precisely 20 years ago) in the audio world there was peace and quiet… and then Apple completely changed the course of the music industry by launching the iPod. That was the spark that started a new ecosystem of music streaming and podcast apps that we can observe and use until today. A lot of different pillars of the audio world fell due to this technological giant. What was unexpected is that the radio didn’t even budge.
“Not only has radio not died on its arse, but it actually seems to be thriving. At the end of last year, Ebiquity research found a third of advertisers were planning to invest more in radio in 2021, equating to the highest net shift for any traditional medium” – wrote Jason Brownlee in his article in Mediatel News.
Radio fulfils one of the basic human needs, which audio streaming providers are unable to take care of. Sense of connection. Sense of belonging to a bigger group. Whatever you call it, the point is that we want to feel we’re not alone in our experiences. The radio takes care of this really smoothly by the presence of the DJ and other listeners calling and talking on air. However the most important is simply the awareness that there are other people in the world, who are listening to the same station at this exact moment. Moreover, people on the radio are always friendly, positive and unlike the internet, there is no hate speech there.
Another psychological reason why people tend to choose radio over audio streaming platforms is the building of collective memories. Let’s take a look at one of the popular radio games “Guess the year”. Trying to remember actually which year it was when we listened to this song stimulates us to recall memories connected to the song we’re listening to. That usually brings us to the joyful moments in our history and puts us in a good mood. On the other hand, it can take us back to the time when those songs were listened to and bring us the memory of social moods common during that time. The collectivity of these memories binds us together and gives us a common sense of identity and belonging just as surely as any flag or football team.
There is one last undeniable quality of the radio which you cannot find on the streaming platforms. Everyone knows the feeling when you scroll down the Netflix page and you are totally confused by the multitude of options that appear in front of your eyes. It’s absolutely frustrating because you’re wasting your free time instead of enjoying it. On the radio, there is no need for choosing what you want to listen to. Choices are already made. You just have to turn on the station you’re in the mood for. Not having to choose, makes it a lot easier to relax.
“We still love radio because it’s simple to access, offers predictable edited choice and above all […] it has the psychological superpower of providing listeners with good company and great memories.”
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