Monday, February 22, 2010

Radio blah blah

Sometimes I forget things.

I'll leave my sunglasses in the wrong car, for example. Or, every couple of months I'll head out the door in the morning without the key card to the cube farm I work in. I've even been known to misplace the launch codes to the ... well, never you mind about that.

The point is every one is human (with the possible exception of Lady Gaga), and we all forget things from time to time.

That's what happened a couple of nights ago when I forgot to plug in my iPod to charge before catching some Z's. So when I hopped in the car for the next day's commute, the battery was pretty much deadsville. It had enough juice to play the morning's edition of Planet Money, and the quick and witty TODAY IN THE PAST (John Hodgman FTW!). But it finally gave out on me as Marc Maron was interviewing Antonia Crane on WTF.

Yes, for the past few years for some reason I've eschewed terrestrial radio in favor of web-based broadcasts. There's just a lot more content that is a lot more compelling, much more interesting on the 'net. And with an MP3 player I can control my listening experience the same way a DVR gives me control over my television viewing experience. It's all about the audience taking control.

That is until your battery dies.

Don't get me wrong. This isn't a huge problem. I do still have a functioning radio in the car that I flip on every once in a while, for old times' sake I guess. And since the iPod was temporarily crapped out and since I was interested in hearing some discussion about the surging #7-ranked K-State Wildcats, I tuned in to Sports Radio 810 WHB for the last 10 minutes of my commute.

And I was almost instantly reminded of one of the reasons I turned off the radio in the first place. There was a commercial playing when I switched the radio on. I don't even remember what it was advertising. All I remember is that for the next five to seven minutes, I heard one commercial after another, possibly with a radio station promo thrown in.

In a future of sharply honed fastforwarding skills where content is king and the :30 spot is an endangered species, this is just waaaay too much advertising. It was more than I could take. It reminded me of why I stopped listening to terrestrial radio in the first place.

Look, I realize you have to pay the bills. There's no free lunch and even public radio has adverts now (not to mention the week-long pledge drives). I'll put up with the odd commercial break every once in a while. Hell, even the podcasts I listen to have ads in them. And even though I fastforward through Leo Laporte's ads on This Week in Tech, I can still tell you his sponsors include Audible, Carbonite.

But when 50 percent of your content is commercials, you're going to have trouble keeping an audience (at least if your audience it me).

I don't know whether a radio station can survive (let alone thrive) with a higher ratio of editorial to commercial content. It's a tough economy out there after all, and I get the feeling that the situation for terrestrial radio is analogous to the situation print newspapers are facing.

Be that as it may, this was a good reminder to me to charge my iPod and/or get a new car charger.

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  1. I listen to talk radio all the time. I don't like commercials but I do like changing content,just music doesn't do it for me,I quickly lose interest and start wishing they would mix in some news or traffic and weather "together on the nines"

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  3. i'm always, i mean ALWAYS leaving the damn satphone at home. i have a mental block about the damn thing. seriously, it spends more time plugged in charging itself in my kitchen than it does on my person.

    it's second favorite place is in the armrest/console of my car. that's where --believe it or not -- some idiot put the cigarette lighter. yep, INSIDE the console. at the very bottom.

    so even if i did smoke I would have to raise the arm rest and reach down at this awkward, double-jointed Russian gymnist angle to push in the lighter, wait for the element to overheat and POP out, then grab the rounded edge by two fingers and pull the thing out, hopefully not singing those important motel 6 receipts on the way...

    who's got time to listen to the damn radio?

    oh, not for nuthin' but i checked: Mr I Like Your Site Will Add It To Mine...did. he added a link to you on his site...

    go figure.

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