Radio in the New Age
The essay is a popular form for writers to express their ideas. It can be found in many sources: newspapers, magazines, and journals. The essay is no longer limited to these mediums, and as communication technology develops, the essay has extended into new arenas. What was once an exclusively paper-and-ink technology is now available over the airwaves and through the phone lines. The essay has found its way to new formats through the radio and internet. We were once readers, but have now become listeners and spectators through the cyberculture revolution.
The term "cyberspace" was invented by writer William Gibson to describe the interconnection of society and its technology (Tribble 162). Cyberculture implies a computer-literate segment of society. Our American culture relies heavily on the automobile industry, fast food, instant communication, and the movie industry, yet not all of these aspects of our culture make up cyberspace. Cyberculture narrows its definition to cover only those aspects of technology that instantly connect person to person or person to machine via other machines. This includes telephone, satellite, television, radio, and internet systems and allows us to uplink, download, tune in, channel surf, surf the web, dial up, and ring nearly anything, anywhere, and anyone at anytime. Steven Johnson, in his article "Links", considers two attitudes toward interactions with this technology. Comparing channel surfing to web surfing, Johnson views TV surfing as a passive act requiring only that the viewer accept what is being shown. Web surfing, however, is a n interactive process that allows for inquiries and searches along a line of interest (Johnson 196-7). Similar to TV viewing, listening to the radio is a passive act according to Johnson's reasoning. The listener has available only those options given in each region of the country. Unlike TV viewing, the radio listener is often involved in a primary activity such as driving or doing errands around the house. The radio rarely receives the full attention of its listener and is usually only one of several simultaneous activities the listener is involved in. Rarely does anyone "veg" in front of the radio in a mind-numbing mental shutdown.
Radio has adapted to its role as a second-place entertainment. The golden age of radio introduced comedians, fictional characters, and news reels in fifteen or thirty minute segments. Now, the majority of stations play short songs, news clips, and fast-talking advertisers to grab and hold their listeners' attention for no more than thirty seconds. Fighting against this trend is National Public Radio, a non-profit noncommercial organization committed to bring to its listeners long news stories, lengthy interviews, and even narrative essays. National Public Radio (abbreviated NPR) assumes that it will not take second place to any other activity and commands the attention of its listeners. NPR accomplishes this by using...