The future of radio

This is not the future of radio
Portrait of the author as a young disc jockey

I have a soft spot for radio. I grew up listening to clear channel radio stations at night in Canada, worked for a time as a DJ, and there’s usually an internet radio station like KEXP, KUVO or the BBC (or one of a dozen more) playing rock, jazz, ambient or news in the background while I am working.

With that in mind, here are a couple of items about the future of radio that recently caught my eye.

In Slate, Steve Lickteig—a former National Public Radio producer—looks at how voice-recognition technology will change the radio industry. Lickeig believes that broadcast radio will become radio-on-demand, where we tailor our listening content to our exact interests, much the way RSS feeds work for print material.

If Lickeig is right, listening will be a much more focused affair. But that will also eliminate one of radio’s great attractions, the discovery of new information and artists through serendipity. That’s something I appreciate about  internet-only stations like Radio Paradise, which is about 80% music that I know and like, 10% new music that is similar to the first 80%, and about 10% that I am either neutral about or don’t especially like. That kind of curation is a great way to build a loyal audience.

When I started using the MusicBee audio player, I discovered TapinRadio, a lightweight Windows-based radio player. TapinRadio is a free, easy-to-use piece of software that’s made even better by a regularly updated list of radio station streams. TapinRadio is useful for learning what’s going on in a distant city or country when you are researching a move, a vacation or current events. It’s also a great place to find the streaming URLS that many radio stations hide on their websites.

Finally, Nosili is a free background noise generator that produces the sound of campfires, trains, coffee shops, rainstorms and wind, as well as pink and white noise. Nosili isn’t radio, but it is a useful tool for relaxing and for focusing, when announcers and lyrics are a distraction.