Monday, January 12, 2009

The Power of Radio

Today happens to be the birthdays of both Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern. Probably a good time to think about radio.

The Republican Revolution of the 90s could not have happened without the power of radio. But now, Obama takes the Presdient's weekly radio address and makes it a YouTube event transforming it from something no one paid attention to into something that is liable to actually have an audience.

Will radio continue to have the same social and political oomph it has had over the last couple decades? Will it draw the same audiences? Will the introduction of Sirius and XM have the same effect that cable had on the big three networks, watering down their influences by fragmenting audiences into a thousand small pieces or will it revitalize radio the way the VCR saved movie theaters? Air America seems to have whittled itself down to a small fragment, but then that was widely predicted because liberals tend to prefer the long form of NPR to sound-bite sized, partisan red meat attacks. But what of NPR? With the laying off of staff, it seems to be in some trouble. What of Pacifica?

Whither radio?