For some people, the idea of radio is one that is archaic and uselessly nostalgic. With the easy ability to record images, radio started to see a rapid decline in listeners in the late 20th century and it seemed as though radio was going to become purely novelty, without bringing anything new or unique. That was until the invention of the podcast in 2004. Podcasts became a new and innovative way to listen, not watch, and gave radio the huge boost it needed to stay relevant. And podcasts were not just relevant, but became hip and current, and not just for the purpose of indie nostalgia.
But now, ten years on, podcasts are starting to slip. People are less willing to sit through a thirty minute program of talking; as our society shifts more towards short attention spans and double screening, so our entertainment follows suit. So we have to ask ourselves: What is next for the audio listening world?
One clue I stumbled upon was in Apple’s new podcast Start-Up. This honest podcast follows one radio producer’s path to starting his own podcasting company. In his second episode, he meets with a potential investor, Matt Mazzeo, who, upon hearing this pitch thinks for a second, and suggests something that at first doesn’t really seem possible with radio: make it social.
This doesn’t mean socialising radio as it’s already socialised. For years now, companies like Soundcloud have been helping people broadcast what they’re listening to their Facebook and Twitter feeds. But with these programs, can you play your favourite bit and share it to your friends? Can you drag and drop from live radio and add ‘love this!’ or ‘couldn’t have said it better myself’ along with it?
Radio needs to jump into the tech world and start making these things possible. With new Apps, and sharing tools built into radio sites, audio producers could make it as simple and common to share sound clips from radio as it is to share any news article. For radio lovers, this is the tipping point into a new era of boosting radio back to relevance again. By accepting the growing online social obsession and embracing tech, radio will get a boost like it did ten years ago, moving it away from being a piece of preserved nostalgia and towards what is current and modern.