In a world that has alas celebrated the extinction of the verb "to listen" what is left is visual enslavement. In such a world, radio is a last oasis, a natural environment where among bushes and stones one can still find everything -- literature and gossip, from Cole Porter to Puccini, from politics to some extinct musical form. On the radio, it is still possible to find words offered to the listener with that tact that TV abhors.
Carlo Emilio Gadda was an engineer from Milan who worked in Italy, Belgium and Argentina. He became a full time writer around 1940 in Florence and then in the 1950s in Rome, where he worked for RAI (Italian National TV). In 1953, when RAI asked him to write up a compendium of "Policies for Radio Programming", Gadda wrote:
"Radio listeners are not a 'public', so to speak. In truth, they are 'single people'... every listener is alone... sitting in their own armchair, after having captured the essence... the noble act of listening, he/she is bound to the secret susceptibility of being able to get irritated by the inopportune tone of a catechizing radio apparatus. It is therefore better that the voice, and the text entrusted to it, avoid all those mannerisms that provoke the idea of a condescending tone, an imparted lesson, a sermon, a message coming from on high. It is equal to equal, free citizen to free citizen, thinking brain to thinking brain."
Equal to equal, citizen to citizen, thinking brain to thinking brain. I very rarely watch TV and even more rarely listen to the radio. At dinner about a week ago, a friend told me that he likes to turn the radio on when he gets home. He does that both for company and because he prefers to listen to information rather than watching it. The only times I listen to the radio is when I'm looking for a local traffic report before getting on the expressway and on Sunday morning after my run.
It is really not a preference, just a matter of convenience. I am more often online and that's where I get the news from European and US wires. Growing up our radio was on only during the broadcasting of symphonic music programs. And in the car I mainly listen to music.
In Philadelphia we have good radio programming: Fresh Air with Terri Gross and Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane, yet I rarely listen to these shows. That is too bad, because I believe that radio is a good medium to establish that conversation from person to person in an intimate setting. I use radio networks for advertising at work because they have a reach to our target audience in a select time frame that print and direct mail would not have.
What about you? Do you have favorite radio programs? Is radio part of your communications strategy?