Why You Should Remember to Listen to the Radio

Radio, at its most basic, is free-form thought. It’s sound and sound only; your imagination filling in the color, erasing the blanks. When it’s good, it seems effortless, though anyone who’s done it live knows better: radio is a cruel mistress, unwavering in its ability to make you look bad, yet increasingly rewarding to those who can game the system and mold it to their needs.

At its best, radio is a stream of stories: music, commentary, editing, all layered to create a soundscape. Its ability to form around our experiences – like mud around a stuck boot, soaking into our thoughts and muddying our expectations – brings us closer to the elements of human communication than any other medium. Its mission isn’t to entertain as much as it’s to entrench, to leave us in the driveway waiting for climax, for a punch line, for satisfaction.

At its worst, radio is commercial. And when it reaches that point, it’s lost the ability to truly communicate, trading build-up for instant gratification, sacrificing creativity for popularity until it’s no longer palatable to anyone but the most middle-of-the-road; the most safe.

I guess what I’m saying is this: listen to the Rock Garden Tour.

And not just because I happen to make two cameos this week.

Do it because it’s probably time you were reminded how fantastic radio can be if you just manage to tune the dial correctly.

This was lovingly handwritten on April 29th, 2010