The Sounds of Now

My love for all things radio

“The little mosquito-delicate dancing hum in the air, the electrical murmur of a hidden wasp snug in its special pink warm nest.”

That’s from Fahrenheit 451. Apocalyptic future and indifferent populace aside, I think its a nice description of what I feel every time I slip in my earbuds. Thank you, the ever prophetic, Mr. Ray Bradbury.

I’ve always been an audiophile. But I’ve always underestimated radio as a medium.

Movies offer me an explosive escape for a couple hours. Binge-watching television series on Netflix let’s me experience the growth of characters over time and a growth in pant size. Radio never seemed to offer much to me.

But radio has evolved over time, from Morse code to podcasts. I always thought of radio as annoying DJ’s and car salesmen who are yelling so loud they must be nearly gagging on the mic. But radio has grown up and it has leveraged what it leverages best. Our imagination.

But radio has grown up and it has leveraged what it leverages best. Our imagination.

By forcing you to paint pictures in your head and tying the threads and weaves of your synapses together, the stories you hear on the radio bind to you. If I’m ever struggling in a conversation, I pull out a concept from a recent podcast like I draw on my own memories. It becomes a part of you.

I feel like I have a symbiotic relationship with it now. Like a rhino and a tickbird. Or like humans and hookworms. Or like Cap’n Crunch and Crunch Berries.

On my way to work in the morning, I put on Morning Edition. My headphones are ripped out of the iPhone jack and then quickly inserted into my work comp. Spotify, NPR, Radiolab, 99% Invisible, This American Life, old radio shows, audio books, they all flood in throughout the day.

Each one is like a portal to something entirely different. I’m sure people that play World of Warcraft feel the same way. Although they get to hang out with elves. And dragons.

But it’s not only confined to that. The internet has given us all a chance to hear things I never dreamed of. Like Saturn’s rings! If that doesn’t sound like an idea I concocted when I was 5 in my bed, about to fall asleep, then I don’t know what is.

I’ve also gone back into archives and listened to the CBS Radio Workshop’s rendition of Brave New World. Part 1 & Part 2. Who knew Huxley had the coolest voice ever? I look forward to more rebirth of radio in the style of CBS Radio Workshop.

Our remix culture has given rise to an interactive soundscape that let’s us blend the mundane with the haunting. My favorite example “You Are Listening To…” which mixes ambient music and police radio together. It makes any project at work sound epic.

We are living in a Golden Age of radio/podcasts/audio transmission. And if you haven’t gotten bit by the bug, you will. We’ll look back at the Ira’s and the Roman’s and say that these were the ones that kept the medium vivid and imaginative.

Let the hornet nest. Give it a listen.