The Case for Radio

Why radio, talk and music, needs a revival

We live in a world of everything on-demand, using our phones, computers, tablets, TVs, and smart speakers to do our bidding. Anything we want to watch, listen to, or research is all at our fingertips, quite literally.

Our phones have become our main access to entertainment. We can stream music, movies, TV, and podcasts, anything of our choice. While this is all a marvel of the modern world, there is still something to be said for the old-fashioned style of music and talk. 

Listening to the radio, especially talk radio, has definitely become a thing of the past, something that “boomers” or other older generations use. AM radio signals are even being left out of newer car models. 

While there is only one AM station I ever choose to listen to, I am disappointed to see this obvious symbolization of the end of an era. Radio lived its prime out in the middle of the past century, reigning king of entertainment before TV was introduced to America’s living room. 

TV replaced radio soap dramas and variety shows. Records, cassette tapes, and CDs took over the music before streaming and YouTube was available. Let’s face it: radio has been waning for a while now.

I admit that radio is not my mainstay of entertainment nor my primary news source, but there are occasions where I will go out of my way to listen to live on air music and talk rather than streaming something on my phone.

So why, in a world where we live in the luxury of personalizing our own entertainment, would anyone advocate listening to a box that makes you listen to whatever they want to play for you? I suppose I sound crazy, but it’s time someone makes an argument in defense of radio.

Mix It Up

We like our playlists and the ability to skip songs we aren’t in the mood for, or else just dislike in general. While I enjoy this benefit myself, I can make a case for turning on the radio and letting the DJs choose the music for me. 

Instead of mindlessly skipping songs I just don’t want to listen to, I just turn on the station and let it play. Changing the station is the old school way of skipping a song, with the chance of finding something new to enjoy. Every genre – country, pop, Christian, classical, and even a Spanish station – are all available in Fargo-Moorehead. Instead of switching playlists, switching stations is just as easy, and also brings to light a few new songs that you might never have found otherwise. 

Not only that, but you can also learn some trivia along the way, whether it be about songs or artists themselves, that the DJ might offer along the way.

Support Local Businesses

Radio is local – that’s the whole point. It broadcasts to a specific area (unless you are tuning in online or using an app, but that is beside the point). 

Every year, the Fargo-Moorhead area releases a Best in the Valley survey, where you can vote for your favorite local businesses and attractions. While shopping and attending other local events or using local services are all amazing ways to support anything on this list, listening to the radio is another way to help out!

You can vote for your favorite stations and personalities and hear ads for other local services. It’s a great way to get to know the community. Often, radio hosts and DJs will broadcast live from a location in the area or have a business owner in for an interview to discuss their work. Not only can you learn of new places and attractions, but you can learn a bit about the business history and/or the person or people behind the scenes!

The top radio station in the upper midwest is 790 AM KFGO, also heard on 94.1 and 104.7 FM. The main studio is in Fargo. Photo by Katie Leier.

Talk Radio

This article already calls me decades older than my barely-twenty-years, but now I am really about to age myself.

I really do enjoy talk radio (most of the time). There are days when one gets sick of listening to music and while this is when most people turn on a podcast, audiobook, or a movie, sometimes the brain just can’t focus. 

Talk radio is mostly mindless and random. There are commercial breaks and other breaks for news, weather, or agriculture updates, where if you aren’t interested in one or some or all of the above, you can zone out for a while.

It sounds crazy, but it feels better than a podcast. Podcasts are planned and edited with the purpose to convey information. Radio is majorly set in real time and adds the little bits of craziness that roll with typical conversations, which can add to the enjoyment. 

For many talk radio shows in the area, listeners can text or call in to join the on air conversation. It becomes a different form of connection.

Like a podcast, you can choose which type of talk to listen to, and many times, hosts post a podcast of special interviews or discussions online. From politics to opinion and news to variety shows, hosts can hold interviews with people of all walks of life: political candidates, law enforcement, ag and weather experts, nonprofit organizers, home and garden experts, home inspectors, and the list goes on. 

The difference from podcasts is that each interview is new – most hosts are not designated to one category and can switch things up day to day.

In addition, most podcasts only post once per week, while radio has new content every day.

Personal Connection

We can spend our lives staring at our phones for the news, the weather, watching sports highlights, but it becomes impersonal. We merely search and scroll whatever we want to know and get updates without hardly trying. 

Radio brings a bit of connection into the picture. It may be faster to check the weather on an app, but with weather updates on the air, you have the whole forecast read to you and explained by a living, breathing person. 

Anyone can check any sports update at any time, but listening to sports on air gives it a bit more character. On radio, I’ve heard the athletic highlights mixed in with everything from the broadcaster discussing the strange car in their garage that didn’t belong to him to lessons in French.

In a world where we are losing connection with real people, adding talk radio to the mix can help. Feeling a part of the conversation and listening to real people in real time, even if you don’t know them in real life, can feel a bit less lonely. 


Like anything, the drawbacks are present, such as time limits and guest hosts. When a podcaster takes a week off, they simply don’t release an episode that week. For radio DJs and hosts, they have guest hosts who may or may not be skilled at the show they are filling in for. 

Plus, you have to listen at the specific time the show is on, or else you can miss it entirely if the hosts don’t record the part you want to hear. 


Radio may never have a comeback and it is definitely past its prime, but there may be hope for it yet. There are definitely benefits, but for some, the cons may outweigh the pros.

I probably aged myself considerably in defense of radio, but I will always enjoy listening to the news, weather, and other updates first thing in the morning. 

While I love my podcasts and personalized playlists, there will always be room for radio. It can be convenient, personal, and real. It isn’t dying out anytime soon, despite what pop culture dictates. 

Leave a Reply