3rd May 2020

The sick man of entertainment? How lockdown has resurrected radio

Opinion pieces are the view of the author and in no way reflects the view of the Liverpool Guild Student Media or Liverpool Guild of Students.

After a few weeks in lockdown, radio companies across the country reported huge increases in their listening figures. With streaming services on the rise and millennials turning their backs on radio, it seemed a medium on the brink of extinction, so why is it that we’re turning to the airwaves in this time of crisis?

As a lover of radio, the idea that my generation are largely rejecting radio as a form of entertainment is a strange and sobering thought. Radio for me has provided entertainment, new music and, sad as it sounds, companionship. I have come to rely on the company of the waves as part of my daily routine, the jingles and hourly news reports now the soundtrack to my day, much to the annoyance of everyone I live with. Up there with washing up disputes and bin duties, one of the biggest adjustments to come to terms with when moving into my first year flat was that not everyone else was a diehard BBC Radio 6 Music fan, that not everyone wants it blaring out from morning till night and that, believe it or not, not everyone else rushes home for Shaun Keaveny’s 1 o’clock slot every weekday.

I might sound obsessive, but the point is that I’m in the minority; our generation have largely abandoned radio. We turn instead to the safety of streaming apps such as Spotify (after all, why would you bother wasting your time being introduced to new music when you can stick on your playlist and remain firmly in the comfort of your own taste). Yet during this time of crisis, people are turning their ears towards the radio again, and this is why you should follow suit.

Reasons to listen to the Radio

Firstly, you’re bored.

Radio provides humour, interesting discussion, a new voice belonging to someone other than those you’ve been cooped up with for weeks. If watching daytime repeats of gameshows from 2011 starts to lose its entertainment factor, you’re out of BBC Good Food recipes to bake and you’ve finally counted all the door handles in your house, it may be time to switch on the radio.

Secondly, you need some new music.

I love listening to my favourite albums and streaming my favourite playlists, but am always on the look-out for something new to listen to, and the radio has brought me just that. It’s easy to stick on your list and enjoy the echo chamber of your own taste, but as you find your self scrolling through your Spotify, grim-faced as you try to find something, anything you haven’t listened to so much you’re at the point of humming the tune in your sleep, stick on the radio and find something new. Now, with so little to do, is the time to be discovering new artists and new genres, to broaden your taste and break out of your norm.

Finally, you need a bit of company.

Radio has a beautiful way of connecting us, and there is a real spirit of comradery in it. Podcasts, TV shows and streamed music are all brilliant ways to keep entertained in these times, but to listen to music alongside millions of others in the country brings you a sense of unity like nothing else can at the moment. Whether tuning in for your feel-good fix on Heart or sports commentary on 5 Live, one thing radio does is connects. In a time of isolation, what we need is human interaction, and radio, with its live conversation and public phone-ins, is one way of creating togetherness in a time when we feel so distant.

While experts were predicting the death of this medium in the not-so-distant future, it seems our current situation has shown the importance of radio. It provides the much needed diversion from day to day life in lockdown, whether as a soundtrack to light up the most mundane tasks, as accompaniment for your daily exercise as you walk the same route for what feels like the 642nd time that week, or as something to simply just sit and listen to. What we all need right now is entertainment, a bit of companionship and a load of new music, so sit back, tune in and enjoy.

Featured Image Credit: Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz on Unsplash