Why radio is dying

The real reason radio is dying isn’t because the programming on it stinks, though it does.

The real reason is that nobody listens to it in the car anymore. They’re all constantly on their cell phones. Really, people, what’s so important that you can’t be in direct touch with someone in your address book for however long it takes you to get somewhere?

I was stuck in traffic the other day and looked at the cars around me. I counted 1 in every 4 drivers (a sample of about 20 cars) with a phone to their ear. Not only is that insane, but it’s also illegal in this state to drive like that. You need a hands free phone. No, that doesn’t mean you turn the speakerphone on and then hold the phone up with your hand about six inches from your mouth while serving in and out of lanes with the one free hand. That defeats the purpose.

If I could tell who was using the proper hands-free tech and not just singing along with the radio, I’m sure that 1 in 4 number would increase.

Am I the only one who enjoys the “Me Time” to listen to music or a podcast?


15 Responses to “Why radio is dying”

  1. bluuzman
    28. April 2006 at 12:23

    On the way to work, I listen to CDs. On the way home, I listen to conservative talk radio. I don’t listen to radio music programming anymore: I can’t stand most of the new music, and I’m tired of classic rock. And I will never, EVER pay for XM or Sirius satellite radio.

  2. Overworm
    28. April 2006 at 12:37

    I can’t remember the last time I listened to music radio. I listen to CDs, NPR or sports talk radio. I once listened to a little conservative talk radio to hear how the dark side thought, but after a few months I became convinced that Rush Limbaugh and most of his brethren were complete hypocritical lunatics that I couldn’t listen to it any more.

    Also, I haven’t owned a cell phone in over five years. I don’t see any reason to have to be contactable (is that a word?) everywhere I go. However, two weeks ago, my wife got me a pay-as-you-go phone because she’s six months pregnant and she wants to be able to call me if THE MOMENT arrives when we’re separated. I haven’t used it once and don’t keep it with me yet. I figure I can wait until month 8 to begin carrying it with me.

  3. Noel
    28. April 2006 at 13:00

    We bought a prepaid cel phone (TracPhone, which stays active so long as we buy at least some new “calling units” every year) when my wife got pregnant for the first time five years ago. We only use it when one of us is away on a trip, and then mostly just to call and check in. We also take it with us when we go out and leave the kids with a babysitter. Most of the time it sits, switched off, in the glove compartment of our car. I’m glad we have it, and I can see the convenience whenever I travel and have to make plans with people on the go, but I don’t think I’ll ever be like the students I see on the campus of the university where my wife teaches, who hop on their phones as soon as class is over and talk on them while they walk to their next class. (What could they possibly be saying? “Hey, I’m walking, what are you doing?”)

    Anyway, a year or so ago I thought that compulsive cel phone people were idiots, but now I realize that their priorities in life just aren’t the same as mine. So no more value judgments. I don’t understand them, but live and let live.

  4. bluuzman
    28. April 2006 at 13:02


  5. Matthew M
    28. April 2006 at 13:03

    I’m sorry, but I think it IS the programming. Modern radio is in an abominable state. In the car, I’m either listening to XM or the iPod. Some GREAT channels on satellite radio, I can’t get 80s alternative, BritPop, Broadway tunes, movie scores, uncensored comedy, or great world music anywhere in my crapcan market (Miami)… unless you’re into hip-hop, reggaton, or latin music.

    Ok this is sounding like a commercial. Too many chuckleheads with cellphones, especially (yes I’m gonna say it) WOMEN IN SUVs. Worst drivers ever, I’m afraid. I agree with you Augie, the 45 minutes I spend commuting each way is my decompression time coming to and from the office, I tune out the world and enjoy my tunes and it helps me get over my longing for nicotine. Damn patch don’t work. What were we talking about?

  6. Overworm
    28. April 2006 at 13:17

    Bluuz, I’d say I’m a conservative liberal on most issues who likes to hear reasoned palaver on any political topic. The problem with most of the conservative radio hosts I hear is that none of it is reasonable.

    Before I get too far off topic and too political, let me say that I hate cell phone drivers. Instead of busting poor people who have expired inspection stickers or license tags because they can’t afford to renew them on time, the patrol cops ought to write tickets to every driver they see talking on a cell phone. That should easily result in enough income for the counties that speed traps could be eliminated altogether.

    And Augie, it is the programming. I love listening to music. I have nearly 11,000 songs on my hard drive. If music radio had decent programming I’d probably listen to it more, but man oh man, does it stink worse than Dennis Rodman’s feet.

  7. Josh Herndon
    28. April 2006 at 16:34

    I tend to listen to CDs in the car on the way to work. I try to listen to the radio, but they seem to play the same 6 songs all day long and I get frustrated. I think I would listen more if I had one of the satellite services, but no money for that venture.

    I recently got a cell phone after not wanting one for years. I got it mainly for when my wife and I got visit my family who lives 4 hours away or my brother in Jersey. We actually all share a plan so we can call each other for free, which is nice.

  8. Elayne Riggs
    28. April 2006 at 17:30

    Once again I buck the trend. I talk on the phone all day at work, I look forward to not being on a phone during my commute unless I really need to get a hold of my husband. Besides, my Bluetooth is acting up on me, so ’tain’t easy talking hands-free any more. So the radio is my salvation, and I’ve started discovering lots of fun new songs!

  9. Scott Beeler
    28. April 2006 at 20:37

    I always listen to music while I drive, unless I’m driving with other people in the car and we’re talking. My usual commute is only about fifteen minutes, so I don’t bother with CDs (and I don’t have an iPod or such), I just listen to the radio. There’s enough decent local stations, both mainstream rock and such, and indie/alternative/college radio, to give me choices to listen to.

    Oh, and I don’t have a cell phone at all. And yes, people talking on them while driving annoys me. Hands-free is acceptable.

  10. Mikester
    30. April 2006 at 22:46

    I recently participated in the Arbitron radio ratings, and I ended up not listening to the radio at all for the week they were asking me to track. It’s usually just prerecorded stuff for me, at home and in the car.

    Regarding cellphones…I was once at a stoplight, looked to the car at my left, and all four people in that car were on a cellphone. I’m going to pretend that they were all talking to each other on the phone, since that thought makes me happy in a “look at the world swirl down the toilet, isn’t that funny” sort of way.

  11. John C.
    1. May 2006 at 09:11

    I don’t particularly care for talking on the phone, and so don’t talk on my cell much at all. It is handy though.

    As for driving/talking, I’m in the minority there. I have a very hard time believeing that holding a cell phone and talking is any more dangerous than, say, drinking coffee. And yet I seriously doubt how many of those who would call cell phone talking/driving unconsciousably dangerous would say the same for coffee drinking, or hamburger-eating–or who don’t do similar things in the car themselves.

    My favorite argument against cell phone talking and driving, even with hands-free sets, is that it’s distracting. Is anyone, anywhere, advocating that drivers with passengers not speak to them? Cell phones elicit some mighty passionate anger, and a lot of it frankly baffles me. Example – put many a person at a table in a restaurant next to someone talking in a conversational voice on a cell and they’ll be pissed. Put that same person at a table next to a couple talking in a conversational voice and everything is fine. How is the one different from the other?

    And rant . . off.

  12. Overworm
    1. May 2006 at 12:23

    The difference between eating/drinking and talking on a hands-on cell phone is simple.

    Drink/Eat: You use a hand to manipulate your cup/food, one hand to drive, and you brain is pretty much free to focus on driving.

    Phone: You use a hand to manipulate your phone, one hand to drive, and you significantly split your brain power between talking and driving.

    You could argue that talking to a passenger should equate to talking on a phone but that isn’t true. When you’re talking to a passenger, none of your brain power is siphoned off to manipulate a non-driving instrument. Unless you’re a teenager riding around with three friends all eating fast food, you’re not likely to be riding around a lot eating and talking to passengers.

  13. John C.
    1. May 2006 at 12:26

    So eating and talking to a passenger should be illegal? My wife and I should no longer get coffees before long drives? Nope, still finding the whole thing a little bizarre.

  14. Anonymous
    1. May 2006 at 12:30

    Matthew M: You need to try auricular therapy for your nicotine cravings. I know it sounds stupid, but it works. I am usually skeptical of stuff like this. It is a form of acupuncture where they zap a certain part of your ear with electrical stimulation. It is painless and you will walk out of the office with no nicotine craving. Now, back on the subject: I never listen to the radio anymore. At home I have xm as part of my DirecTV package and in my car, I listen to CDs. Commuting is one of my favorite times of the day.

  15. Augie De Blieck Jr.
    1. May 2006 at 13:55

    I think the dangers of driving while on the cell phone are a little overblown, for many of the reasons cited here. On the other hand, I think there are enough people who shouldn’t be allowed to take phone calls while allegedly driving that it’s in the best public safety reasons that they’re banned all together, minus hands-free sets.

    The other thing I remember reading on this topic, though, is the difference between someone in the car with you and someone on the cell phone. The person in the car with you will stop talking to you when they sense danger outside the car. They’ll mirror your driving. The person on the cell phone has no idea what’s going on in the car, and so will continue talking straight through you t-boning a car and never know a thing. The passenger is, thus, less distracting, more aware.