The Future of Radio?

Jim Colgan moderated a panel at SoundCloud on “The Future of Radio” on February 2, 2012, addressing the shift from push broadcasts to on-demand digital content. One panelist described the transition to digital content as “radio without radios.” 

Nikki Silva opened the event with a reminder that while “crowd sourcing” has only recently become a buzz-worthy Web 2.0 term, The Kitchen Sisters have crowd-sourced content for years. Their crowd sourced content is compiled from hundreds of voice messages left by audience members across the country. These messages will hopefully be archived in the future as a way to preserve nuances of geographically dispersed culture.

The audience was treated to a segment from the “Hidden Kitchens” series. Afterwards, Colgan asked: “Why radio when so many other forms are available?” Silva replied that radio is a primal, living thing that captures your imagination. This is akin to treating audience members as co-creators who fill in tactile and visual gaps of oral content with their own perceptions.

Ian Hill from KQED gave a nod to “the voice of the person on the street” and noted that social media has made engaging with the public ever more important. In a similar vein, the Internet is often praised as a great democratizing force for information access. This argument for greater access to information seems to resurface with each major technological innovation (radio, television, etc.). However, a crucial difference is that technology now affords the general public an opportunity to not only access content, but to create content. This ability has the potential to inspire riffs on content that can then be uploaded and shared within a community. For example, if you attend the Angola Prison’s Annual Rodeo after learning about it from a Hidden Kitchen episode, you can upload video or audio that reflects on your experience.