FM radio still holds value

FM radio was a once great empire that has now fallen, but it still holds value that Spotify and TikTok can’t always match


Angel Villalobos-Rivera

After the uprise of music streaming platforms, radio has had difficulty keeping up.

Natalie Yoder, Copy & Design Editor

There is no denying the value that the radio once held to pop culture. It provided news and entertainment, but most importantly — access to new music. People used to discover the songs they would later come to love on the radio. Yet today, it holds little value. 

When we compare the modern day hub of pop culture — TikTok — to the radio, one might argue that they couldn’t be more different. And, of course, the platforms are certainly different in several ways. But they are similar in more ways than many of us would guess. The majority of the most popular songs in recent years have either gained traction on TikTok or could be found there soon after release. The same was once true of the radio.

There is a very obvious culprit behind the fall of radio: music streaming platforms. Why would we listen to music we only half like and deal with never ending ads when we could be listening to our favorite songs nonstop? But I feel there is still value in the radio.

Being a member of my generation requires me to have Spotify. So why would I ever listen to the radio? My mode of transportation is often my father’s car, so this means when I’m driving, my options are the radio or silence. When this first became the reality of my situation, I regularly chose silence.

In an act of desperation, I began listening to my own music out of my phone speaker. This was, naturally, less than ideal. But at the time it seemed preferable to the annoyance of the radio.

However, occasionally the jazz station in the morning on the way to school was relaxing. Sometimes classic rock perfectly suited my mood for the way home. And overtime, I came to realize that my own music constantly pounding in my ear had become unbearable. Listening to the same songs over and over again made me lose love for them. 

I became annoyed with my own music after only listening while driving.

So many of my peers listen to music constantly.  With the combination of AirPods and Spotify, there is nothing stopping people from listening to music 24/7. And from my experience, people who do this claim to love music more than anything; they aren’t able to exist without it. And by no means am I claiming that people who are always listening to music don’t actually enjoy it. But is there not still too much of a good thing? 

To me, listening to music out of my phone speaker every time I’m in the car (which is pretty often), ruins the music for me. Can I really enjoy the lyrics, or the chords, or any of it when I’m only half listening?

Can you really enjoy music when it becomes the background noise of your life?

I’ve come to find that the music I love the most stays that way when I actually listen to it. Not just letting it constantly play in the background, but really taking the time to enjoy what I’m hearing.

But how does this connect to the radio? The radio, I’ve found, is the perfect background noise. I can maintain my love for my favorite songs while still having something to listen to while I drive.

On top of all this, I’m an old fashioned person. I find so much value in things from the past, and I think nowadays it’s far too easy to overconsume, especially when it comes to music. Part of my old soul just likes the idea of the radio, enjoying and discovering music the way people used to.

And the radio can still serve its old purpose. I’ve discovered some songs that I really enjoy. Though it may not serve the purpose of discovering new music as well as Spotify or even TikTok, the radio still has its charm. And most importantly, it keeps my music cycle fresh and allows me to maintain the love I have for my favorite songs.