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Radio listening booms while music streaming stalls (bbc.com)
56 points by pseudolus 10 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 42 comments





I like listening to the radio sometimes because it takes away my control and having to think. If I'm shuffling Spotify for example I tend to dedicate a small slice of limited brain power to thinking about what is playing, if I really want to listen to that song, if I want to queue something up next, etc. With the radio it doesn't matter because short of channel hopping all day I don't control any of that. Makes it better as background noise while I work.

This is something video streaming services haven't gotten quite right yet. I have a Plex server with 14TB of media on it and sometimes end up with a slight anxiety of having to pick what I want to watch when I turn the TV on. I'll waste 15 minutes scrolling through stuff when it doesn't really matter because I'm just using it for background noise anyway. With cable you just pick a channel and it goes.


> I like listening to the radio sometimes because it takes away my control and having to think.

Been noticing the same lately! Spotify radio still has the next button so instead I've been listening to After Hours trance radio.

http://ah.fm/player/


Can't Spotify also do what you want? There are all kinds of official or unofficial playlists which you can play on random, and actually get the type of music you want - without 15 minutes of ads per hour that is the norm here in the US.

Sort of, but the experience isn't the same. Theres something about the shuffle in Spotify/Apple Music/etc that just doesn't feel the same as having a radio station select the music for you. Partly because I still have to manage it. I will think if I like the song, want to save the song, skip the song, etc. The radio completely removes that control so you don't think about it at all.

Also, I'm not sure exactly how to describe it. But internet streaming just feels so sterile to me, while radio feels more alive.


There is actually a lot of art that goes into programming a radio station. One of the radio formats that was out a few years ago had a slogan "We play what we want". They purposefully crafted the playlist to create "train wrecks", where one song was periodically followed by another that didn't feel like it belonged there.

The same thing with a live DJ -- their job is to watch the crowd, and the dance floor, and if the crowd looks like it is losing interest they alter the selection that makes everyone wake up and start moving. Or if it is getting too crowed, they put a song that has less appeal which causes a lot of people to leave the dance floor and head to the bar.


You're talking about Jack FM, right? They have a ton of stations: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_FM

I suspect their playlists are generated at HQ and shared between all the stations. That's one benefit of not accepting requests.


I wonder through isolation how much of this is just wanting to listen to other people?

Not a revolutionary thought but I think one reason many podcasts are so successful is that we're essentially eavesdropping on conversations we find interesting. As I started to work remote and more in a silo I found myself playing more long form podcasts in the background rather than music

Same here. Podcasts have really helped me stay sane since I started working remote and living alone a few years ago. And there are enough out there now that I can play different types for different moods or purposes.

When I'm doing serious work, I (maybe counter-intuitively) often put on a lighthearted/silly/dumb comedy podcast, and it serves well as background noise. I don't feel any need to pay close attention or rewind if I missed something.

When I'm doing a slow, rote, boring task, or something not too important or mental energy-consuming, or if I'm just in the mood, I put on a hard science or philosophy podcast (Lex Fridman, Sean Carroll, Eric Weinstein) and listen pretty attentively.


Anecdotal but the social music app I built, JQBX(https://www.jqbx.fm), has had an average 8X increase in daily active users over the last two weeks. So I think a lot of it has to do with the social/feeling connected component.

Man, I love HN... I started using jqbx yesterday from a friend’s recommendation and now I see a comment from the creator. Small world.

At least some. My friend set up an IceCast station hooked up to their home stereo, so we can just listen in to what they're listening to. I found it comforting. Plus they have great taste in LPs, and I can have some retro fun streaming it in Winamp 2.95 on my Pentium 166.

I wonder if it could also be due to the fact that Internet usage has increased, which lowers available bandwidth—maybe as a consequence, streaming quality isn't as consistent.

I haven't had any issue with Spotify so far. Granted: I personally have a good connection and live in a relatively well developed country.

The bandwidth required for audio is tiny compared to most of the other things we do on the internet.

during WW2 people were glued to BBC broadcasts. people in shelter want to know whats happening outside the moment it happens

Same reason why news readership has gone up a huge amount this week


Doesn’t shock me. Working from home for 8 years and I constantly listen to the radio. Usually local sports radio because it’s the only thing that’s on all day and consistently regional. Lots of other things going on in the area trickle in. Older callers chime in with history of things they saw in person.

I love it.


listening to radio is deliciously private and anonymous as well. just like cash, which is taking a hit now due to the pandemic.

the other nice property of things like radio and cash is that they continue to preserve our rights simply by using them regularly.


Cash is taking a hit? USD is the only asset increasing in value.

Curious how ham/amateur radio traffic has changed. I dug out my old 2m Yaesu and started hopping on a few nets.

I've just took a spin around the 20m band and it's reasonably lively, maybe a bit more so than usual, but the band isn't packed. Besides, I think most ham enthusiasts were already spending most of their time at home (retirees) talking about illnesses (diabetes, usually) :)

Edit: Stopping on 14.340 I got a Hawaii/California net and was able to hear people from Hawaii pretty well, which given my crappy antenna is a bit of a feat. I think propagation is improving a bit at last, which will be nice for people stuck at home.


Wonder if the reduced air pollution that's been noted just about everywhere is helping propagation.

It's increased manyfold. Clubs all over the place have moved their meetings to repeaters, and hams who have gotten out of the workforce while in SIP are finding they have time to get on the air.

This just happened here. I want to get into HF but have been spending all my money on other toys lol.

shoutout to princeton radio! wprb.com i love their deejays and all their crazy selections

thanks for sharing this one! I love good radio stations. so hard to find down here in the deep south.

yes! there's something refreshing about the true variety they offer.

I've definitely been listening to local radio more often. Getting news online is kind of difficult because depending on the location, the situation can be really different. I had definitely forgotten how much radio time is stolen by ads. Weird that people still put up with that

Lately I've been streaming a couple different classical stations (KUSC and KPBS Classical, which is a feed from Classical 24), and I get push notifications from several different local news apps when the city and county start their daily briefings on the local Covid situation. I turn the TV on for those briefings, then go back to classical afterwards. Most of the time, I can expect if any major news happens, the various push notifications will alert me. A bonus of all this is, zero ads.

And getting specifically the local news notifications makes sure the stuff I'm getting is actually applicable to where I am. If you're in a large enough market so that one or more local TV stations have their own local news apps, the push notifications can be useful even if you never look at the app otherwise (as long as the app can be tuned so it doesn't spend all day sending you random less important stuff - recipes and sports scores and human interest stuff - if so try a different station's app).

I've long listened to either classical or chillout / downtempo lounge in the office - mostly Soma.fm or di.fm - because I've found I want music, but don't want words - if there's lyrics, they distract from the programming project at hand.

I do have a small AM/FM radio in good working order, to prepare for the remote chance that the tubes break and the internet stops coming out of the tubes.


> Weird that people still put up with that

Well, they don't, right, at least those who are aware of and comfortable with alternatives? My impression is that the market segment for radio in 'normal' times is very small, at least compared to what it used to be.


There's literally no football going on whatsoever but it's only dropped by two thirds?

I'm not a football fan, and yet some of the (Australian) football shows are fascinating right now.

The talk radio station I've started listening to this week has a daily football show, and it's all about salary cut negotiations, trying to fight off the bankruptcy of the entire competition, and finding ways for the league to generate revenue to stay afloat when there aren't any games.

The weekly footy TV show is my favorite though - they still have to do their sponsor reads for the sports betting sites, but without a single football game to bet on, they've started covering betting odds on German Table Tennis. Their struggle to find an hour of content has been hilarious.


Football was already in the offseason, so most of the news is just teams trading players around anyway. Which they can (and are) doing despite covid-19.

This is an aside (and I'm sorry if I'm posting in the wrong place - my first time here)

But... speaking of sports and radio/ streaming: I'm working on an early stage project in the sports streaming space and looking for a technical co-founder. A friend recommended HN as good community to ask in. Any interest/ thoughts/ direction welcome!

Again, my apologies if this is outside forum norms - happy to take feedback.

Thanks for reading


This is the BBC, football refers to what you might call Soccer and it really wasn't in the "off-season", it was approaching the interesting part of the year.

Only problem with radio is type of music you get out from it is more of less mercy of what's popular and what music producers want to market, which really wouldn't fly for me.

I do, however listen to my local NPR station, and I do find them enjoyable.


Two local high-schools have radio stations that I can receive easily without much antenna work, and I've found their programming to be quite a relief from commercial stations.

Some of it is pop crap, sure, but it's really fresh pop crap. And some of it is the kid who's just discovering Elvis and doing an hour of Elvis every Friday night, and yeah I've heard the songs before, but the deejay's enthusiasm is really what I'm here for. And some of it is just weird, demo tapes from bands that probably played four gigs and might never play another one, but I know next time I'm out driving, I might be stopped next to their drummer at a light, you know?

And all the "ad spots" are PSAs. Some locally produced by the students, some from various state and national orgs. None of them scream at me.

It is bliss.


I used to live in a town that had a university-run radio station.

What I liked was that they were able and willing to play music that otherwise wouldn't ever hit the airwaves. A lot of local bands got air play, and I thought that was simply great since radio can often be super repetitive.

One night they were doing a punk segment, so I called in as a joke and requested the song God Damn Son of a Bitch from the Revolting Cocks. The song is an instrumental, so they played it. But the intro and after discussions were absolutely hilarious. They referred to it as "Gol Darn Son of a Bee" and made fun of the fact that they couldn't say much about it other than that it was thankfully an instrumental.


This is not too surprising as ATSC TV is an abortion and simply doesn't work. So if people suddenly have newfound time on their hands from lack of commuting, they will listen to a broadcast system that WORKS.

If you're into chiptunes or the demoscene, don't forget about Nectarine: https://scenestream.net/demovibes/

Coincidentally I have started listening to local radio through my Alexa, something I've never tried before this outbreak.

> radio listening had risen by 15%.

How can the radio station detect that radio listening increased?




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