The Charm of Radio

In Uncategorized on November 15, 2008 at 10:29 am

Radio is making a major comeback in my life, however in a mutated form via podcasts and internet radio. My daily schedule has found entries for BBC global news podcast and the New Yorker Fiction reading (usually just after getting up from bed and just before bed respectively). Apart, from the vintage charm which is a pertinent entity in itself I feel there is a huge pragmatic relevance and realism for radio in a 21st century netizen life. A snapshot of the wakey time of an average geek’s daily life comprises of staring at a computer screen and continuously  processing textual and visual entities which appear in them. (I prophesies that this habit will metastasis to layman’s life structure in the very near future, if it had not taken place already). The problem with such a lifestyle is that the classic couch potato based recreational activities like watching TV which is predominately a visual crunching activity for our brain or reading a magazine/tabloid which involves processing text starts to become more tedious than relaxing. Mainly because, they are a rehash of the activities that one is doing in the entire day.

Let me not oversimplify here and brush the inherent content in the media under the carpet. True, there are no, no, …. no substitutes for an amazing movie or a novel. However, I am talking from the perspective which has mostly the main stream media in its view-port. Addressing those hours of the day of our personal lives which goes into the vortex of un-productivity and frustration, watching third rate reality shows like {Big {Brother|Boss} }* or going through the page3 pages. The moments when we get into a state of high inertia and negative-zombiness which unfortunately seems to be on the rising curve courtesy the bunch of ignoramus jokers who run the media and the mob who seems to be happy with status quo. These activities had a relevance when our working habits were different. It provided a context switch from the predominant activities one has to induldge in a day and also provided a portal to a different reality. The latter (escape to a temporary world) is applicable today also. However, here lies the crux of the problem.  Due to the homogenuity in the nature of work and leisure activities, the realisation of the context switch to the virtual space created by the media is often not registered in many peoples’ (atleast not in my) mind. The escape (or trap) to the different reality is often involuntary rather than voluntary. And chances are that one is presented with potent (mallu:potta) content and thereby subjecting yourself to high intensity, low quality mental torture!

Contrast this to the process of you going to watch a movie during yester-years, It starts with a process of mental preparedness and anticipation. When you go and sit in a theatre, the effect of the ambiance starts to kick up in your mind. You sit in an slightly alien environment compared to your couch at home. The lights dim. A subtle awareness of your co-viewers’ presence and a sense of participation with a collective audience finds a place in back of your mind. Then the show begins and if the celluloid creation is good, you willingly surrender your sense of reality to the movie makers. It is this sense of emotional quality, that the current day especially TV media has been 100% unsuccessful.

It is this void that radio is filling up. Especially, listening to some of the book-reading sessions from the New Yorker podcasts has personally been very satisfying and an highly immersive experience tor me. Similarly, the radio news (courtesy BBC) is evoking more empathy in me rather than the same content supported with visuals. The extra agility and participatory factor it brings in is refreshing. I am really loving the juxtaposition of the emotion content transferred via human voices and structural content build up using words.

ps: A lot of work is going on about immersive media in the geek world, to which I am personally trying to put in my chips. The irony is that I find the late 19th century form of media to be much more immersive than most of present and modern form of media!


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