I do have an iPod and an extensive music collection but I still listen to the radio every day in my car. When I’m not physically at the computer I’ll usually choose my favourite station over running iTunes in the background.
I think it might be the announcer and the connection you feel to them that sets radio apart from more modern options. Plus, depending on the station you get great insight into what’s happening locally. I find so many cool songs outside my comfort zone by scanning through the channels and listening to different stations. I’ve also attended some pretty fun events that I heard about through local broadcasts.
Good music has no shelf life, the world can continue to benefit from hearing the songs of eras past. It gives us a connection to our culture and our heritage, the medium itself is a part of our history. If the songs aren’t being played there won’t be an opportunity for newer generations to experience them. I believe that broadcast is essential to preserving that connection.
On the other hand, there’s a novelty to just being able to punch up whatever song you want to and hear it. But I feel like throwing the iTunes on shuffle is missing this personal touch. Similarly searching for songs on youtube is just ads and videos. There is more of a connection there because you can discuss the video in the comments but it’s not the same. A recommended video sidebar isn’t the same as being forced to sit through a video on Much Music (or MTV). You can choose not to watch, therefore potentially missing the opportunity to hear a song or see a video that speaks to you. Although, it’s my understanding that those channels don’t really play videos anymore anyway.
Sometimes I’ll listen to a streaming service called slacker radio. For a long time, I didn’t know what set it apart from the iTunes shuffle or random songs on youtube. Then I realized it’s that familiarity of the announcer. I grew up listening to the radio, I like the random bits of information and the elements of conversation added in there with tunes. It seems a little less lonely because of the human connection.
On demand is great, but it can also be really limiting. Broadcast not only connects you to your announcer but also your community. You’re linked with all the other people partaking in the same programming. On top of that you’re remembering great tunes you forgot and picking up new ones along the way.