It’s not a secret that today’s world is rapidly losing its attention span, its ability to focus, and its patience. Whether it’s in print with the movement away from long-form essays to the rapidly growing BuzzFeed style short lists and quick reads or to Netflix with the ability to binge watch just about any television program that has ever been released, its obvious the world is exponentially moving away from the values of long-term attention.
At this point, it’d be understandable to then make the argument that radio is irrelevant. It’s an old style of consuming information, it’s dated and unexciting, and anyone who is still keen to produce it or listen to it is on a hipster-nostalgic stint, trying to make sure radio doesn’t fall into obscurity. I would say to the people who might be inclined to make these points, that they are not entirely unfounded and not necessarily wrong. With the glitz and glamour of the moving picture, not only is it easier to follow a story with the help of an extra sense, but it’s also more enticing. I don’t think it’s wholly wrong to make these arguments.
Unfortunately, these arguments are cowering to a sad trend, a trend that, in an idyllic world, would be reversed, and the trend that is heading towards a more mindless world. We need something to grab our attention. We need something to make us regain our patience. We need something that will force us to sit still and listen.
This is the place where radio both maintains its relevance and where it becomes a necessary godsend. It gives us the opportunity to hear a story or learn something, at the same time as going about our daily lives; relieving our need to multi-task, but more importantly, giving us the opportunity to hone our sense of hearing and take the time to focus on words, and for an extended period of time. Whether it’s radio or something like a podcast, there still exists this beautiful, and timeless, entity that allows us to part from the world of high speed, instant-gratification and force us to move at someone else’s pace and be patient and willing to hear a whole story.
Next time you turn to iPlayer or Netflix, do yourself the courtesy of sitting down with a podcast and drifting into one story. By doing so you’re teaching yourself how to listen again.