Perspective: The Return Of Radio

Jul 5, 2019

A new Ipsos study finds that millennials are listening to more radio than other generations are. Many of them spend more time on audio than they do on social media. To be sure, they aren’t listening to radio on radios. They’re doing it on their phones. This puzzles me, since I thought phones were designed to be cameras. 

This millennial rediscovery of radio is a good thing. The almighty image leaves little to the imagination, unless we’re talking about a Picasso. But on radio, when you hear a voice you imagine what the person looks like. When you hear a situation being described, or a story being told, you want to imagine the movie version inside your head. 

I’m old enough to barely remember when radio still reigned as king. My first “Lone Ranger” experience was on radio, and when I saw the Lone Ranger on black-and-white TV I was disappointed in how ordinary the Lone Ranger’s mask was. My imaginary portrait, I thought, had been much more lavish. The great poet Wallace Stevens never went to Europe, on principle, because, he said, Paris would always be more interesting in his imagination of it. 

Imagination can be dangerous, but without it we’d have a dull life and hardly any new ideas. So I welcome the return of radio for a new generation. By the way, since I’m on radio, you might want to imagine what I look like. Let me save you the trouble. I’m about 6 feet two inches tall and look just like the young Robert Redford. 

This is Tom McBride, and that’s my Perspective.