Satellite Radio : Audio stimuli & the Imagination

22 Apr

In a world where it has become increasingly common to divide our attention amongst several different screens, simultaneously of course, how does any media that lacks the affordances of screens and digital imagery remain prevalent in today’s society–let’s ask Satellite Radio.

Radio broadcast is one of the most influential, persistent, and revolutionary mediums of communication developed in the last century. A mass extension of the oral traditions of old, radio allowed for storytelling on a massive, societal scale. Predating the invention of the television by several decades, radio was once the pinnacle of communication and information exchange within the USA. Nowadays, radio must compete with News Apps, SNS networks, and mobile internet when it comes to the exchange of breaking news. Regardless, radio remains a source of news and info exchange, yet radio broadcast has had a resurgence in popularity, particularly within the area of Satellite Radio–traditional radio’s reaction to the digital movement.

Satellite radio titan ‘SiriusXM’ boasts 20 million subscribers and multi-platform capabilities. 

Sirius and XM satellite radio, the industry leaders, offer their members over “140 channels” that provide members with 70+ commercial free music stations, the remainder of the channels are dedicated to provide talking and listening shows. Sirius currently boasts a subscriber base upwards of 20 million members–comparable to Netflix’s 33 million members as of March 2013.

The appeal and power of radio broadcast stems from the lack of a provided image. Listeners are forced to use their own imaginations to provide visual context to the sounds . Although the speaker may give the listener occasional clues, listeners are mostly left to their own devices. The profundity of our imaginations evokes unique and rich imagery in response to audio stimuli. To rely on one’s own imagination is refreshing for consumers that feel overwhelmed by the egregious amount of visual and digital content that is constantly infiltrating our everyday lives.

Radio broadcast is a carefully blended and manufactured medium that, unlike other mediums, refuses to enable society’s growing dependence on screen and digital content. In fact, it even opposes–to a degree– the growing “on-demand” services offered by most other digital service providers in that a subscriber must still tune into a scheduled broadcast time in order to enjoy it, otherwise the subscriber misses it. In a world where it’s all about the crispest resolution and the most interactive menus, Satellite radio continues to be a unique and stalwart presence amongst modern media communications today. By refusing to be behave like other modern media platforms, satellite radio provides a unique experience that doesn’t deviate too far from its analog spirit but remains relevant in an increasingly digital world.

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