Last autumn, I was elated when Serial, a podcast hosted by Sarah Koenig, lit up the airwaves. It quickly turned into a fad, and as an avid radio listener from day one, I was thrilled with the popularity podcasts began to receive. I am aware many high school students view anything on radio that is not Z100 for old people who probably knit and own cats, and while that sounds like a very fantastic life, it is not the case!
I was born into a family who have endured the NPR fundraising drives (if you know, you know) for decades, and whose idea of fun is driving around aimlessly to listen to the latest episode of Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me! However, I understand that the vast majority of my peers do not care to understand this radio listener lifestyle I am speaking of, or that there even was such a lifestyle. There is!
Radio shows are addicting, but many students are too intimidated by the overwhelming number of podcasts to even begin. Or, they simply drag the Apple Podcast app to the section of the home screen where the Stocks and Passbook are kept– Death Valley of iPhones. I urge all high school students to explore the wonders of radio, because as the technological age continues to mature, and the use of radio becomes more outdated, the practice could easily turn into a dead form of media, which simply cannot happen. Ira Glass, the king of radio, is too important.
When I was a naive thirteen year old, and still embarrassingly in middle school, I had all the time in the world to watch television, movies, and Youtube. Now, as a cynical and lethargic junior, I hardly have time to sleep. But, I still crave entertainment, and while social media can show me what my friends are doing, it is not one-sided, and is often taxing on one’s energy. Radio is the perfect device to relax and listen to interesting stories or presentations of research, while still being efficient! As much as you may want, one cannot watch 10 Things I Hate About You on the walk to school. But you can listen to the radio anywhere, if you have a pair of headphones. In fact, I prefer to listen to my podcasts on the move! Dreaded run days can feel like time well spent if you simply put on the latest episode of Freakonomics, and a walk home from school can be shortened with an episode of Fresh Air.
For those who are not into the idea of the more academic side of the podcast world– basically the entirety of National Public Radio– comedic shows are becoming far more common. Psychobabble, hosted by Tyler Oakley, the YouTuber, and his friend Korey Kuhl, has become very popular among his younger audience, who now listen on a weekly basis. Buzzfeed, as well as other famous internet conglomerates, have begun to produce their own series of podcasts, and further the fever surrounding the growing industry. It is very interesting how new technology has adopted radio into this age, and I am looking forward to see how the medium evolves with the newfound ways of application.
That said, as much as I love radio, I can understanding that it is annoying how much of a trend podcasts have become recently– it seems as though everyone and their mother hosts a show. Looking at the brighter side of that, I am impressed how many millennials have embraced radio and revived it. I truly hope the medium never dies, as nothing will ever beat learning about specific topics you never thought you needed to know. My personal favorite was a show I heard by Planet Money about the “Chicken Tax”. An archaic tax, weirdly not about chickens, but pickup trucks, seemed unnessecary when I first heard it over the summer. Who would have thought it would become relevant to my studies, especially in history while studying the Machine Age.
Podcasts must not become a forgotten form of media. Millions of jobs and dollars are involved in this industry, and our time, Generation Z must propel radio and find new innovations in order to support it eternally.