Conversation Killer: Is This Really Radio?

Since volunteering at a local campus radio station and putting together this radio station I’ve run into a few perplexing  elements about radio. Most of it seems to deal with a kind of identity crisis meanwhile making conversations confusing.

One of the primary examples I have seems to hog-tie itself with a follow-up question: “Do you broadcast?” Followed by: “So what channel are you on AM/FM?”. Sometimes but not often the second question or third follow-up at least acknowledges the existence of the internet and the potential internet broadcast. The sad part about these questions is that at least from where I sit; yes some people miss that possibility, yes some people don’t associate radio to do with anything online, but I know for a fact my station is online only. At the very least when talking about my station in comparison to others (including the one I volunteer at) I make sure to mention where to listen in online as opposed to ever mentioning a frequency or band to tune a radio to so that there’s no confusion as to where it exists. Part of this awkward element might have to do with people’s interpretation of the word broadcast or their familiarity with the internet. For those who’ve ever touched radio as a business its not far off to understand a live-stream as a broadcast through the internet as opposed to through the air with high frequency waves. More often than not people with hands on tech experience will find broadcast mentioned related to packets sent over the internet. People with tech experience associate it as a technical term and the identity of radio stations seems stable in their minds. There are some ways however I’ve had this posed to me which wrecks my motivation to speak, usually because it cuts down to: “Is this really radio?”. The answer to that so far as I’ve learned above really depends on how much experience a person has with radio related material. Without having the chance to at least answer, this phrasing turns into buzz-kill. Especially when it comes as a passing comment when people walk by the station on campus, can’t help but feel crushed.

For all the poking and prodding people may do without understanding I’m at least glad to have some opportunities to explain. There have been a few times where I’ve had the chance to hammer home the concept of radio and I’ve been happy to do it. So if you have any questions about what really goes on check out:


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