Have podcasts killed the radio star?

Dominic Lee tells us why there's still a place for radio in the podcast era

Dominic Lee
19th November 2020
I’ve become accustomed to a lot of things in 2020, whether that’s social distancing, face masks or doing everything on zoom.

However, one thing I’ve noticed above all is that everyone and I mean EVERYONE is doing a podcast. In fairness the trend towards podcasts has been building for a long time and they were probably just as relevant last year as they are now but since the world went into lockdown I think they’ve become more prevalent in all of our lives.

I myself do one group sports podcast with my pals called “From the Sidelines” and I’m planning a personal one as well and quite a few of my friends are doing them too. Podcasters these days are celebrities and vice versa, people like Joe Rogan of “The Joe Rogan Experience” and Chris and Rosie Ramsey of “Sh**ged Married Annoyed” are now household names, even my mum listens to the latter - yeah I was surprised too!

The obvious comparison for podcasts is radio, which it could be argued is suffering from the trend towards podcasting. However, as one of the station managers at Newcastle Student Radio - shameless plug I know but I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t do it - I believe it’s my duty to defend radio’s corner.

In my eyes, whilst radio and podcasts are both audio formats, they occupy very different spheres.

They both have advantages that others don’t have. The biggest advantage of radio is that it’s live, which might seem obvious but we often take it for granted. Radio tells us what’s happening and where as soon as it’s happening. Stuck in traffic? Switch on the radio. Want to know the news? Switch on the radio. Radio is still the perfect medium for the modern world because it’s instant and it’s current. Radio also shapes our music tastes, with DJ’s such as Annie Mac responsible for sending artists to the top of the charts. Radio delivers us live sport 24 hours a day and gossip in between. The medium still has a lot to offer.

Nonetheless, Radio suffers from an elitist and exclusive image. However, in many ways it’s just as open as podcasting. Student and community radio stations are often very easy to get involved with and offer complete creative autonomy. Additionally, it’s not as if podcasting isn’t heading in an elitist or exclusive direction, the podcast charts are dominated by celebrities and TV comedians with less and less career podcasters getting the same attention.

However, podcasts are popular for a reason and that’s because in a world of instant gratification they are the perfect audio medium.

It can be argued that while they haven’t replaced radio completely, they have at least replaced the traditional radio talk show. Podcasts are available on streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Podcasts and are free from the editorial restrictions that traditional radio has. While radio has to be mostly official and family friendly, podcasts can be as blue as the sky.

In short, both mediums are still relevant and fills the gaps that the other leaves. I have equal appreciation for both radio and podcasts and I can only see them becoming even more intertwined in the future.

Featured image: Joe007 via Pixabay

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