J Bov Explodes Rhetorically

Was Digital Radio Obsolete Before It Was New?
28/06/2009, 5:29 PM
Filed under: Gibberish, Writing

A question worth asking now as the UK begins switching all terrestrial television signals off in favour of digital. (This will be occuring throughout the next few years, don’t panic). See the link? No? Shut it!

Digital radio is something of a nothing really. For example, take a glance over at your own digital radio set, I’ll wait.

See, you can’t because you don’t have one. Don’t feel bad, I’m not sure anyone else has one either.
Well, I do. I bought one for my father on his birthday, but I’m a little mad for technology and if it’s new, I want it. At the time digital radio was new.

That’s the one sitting in my house right now, not displaying ‘Pure One’, or anything else for that matter, because it rarely gets used.

I’m sure this is the same the country over, but I’m not sure why.
Statistics of digital radio set ownership are quite hard to come by, possibly because nobody but my family actually owns one of the bloody things!

Now digital radio broadcasting is great, the sound quality is such that with a pair of good headphones you’d be forgiven for describing it as perfect. You can hear the presenter’s facial expressions change, it’s insane. I recommend headphones because if you’re listening to the best quality sound you want to use good speakers, not the oft tinny, rubbish sounding ones stuck in the plastic box right next to the circuitry.
There’s all kinds of channels too. Seriously, all kinds; Planet Rock is a favourite of mine, purely because they had a Pink Floyd month. A Floyd MONTH! Although this channel is part of the reason I consider digital radio to be a little shoddy, but we’ll come back to that.
There’s a birdsong channel. Honestly, just birdsong all the time. It’s delightfully refreshing, especially if like me you’ve become tired of normal jazz and want to listen to something arythmic and keyless.
Speaking of jazz; there’s a lot of that in the ones and zeros too.

Here’s the main reason I think digital radio doesn’t appeal to as many people as it could; it seems cheap (something it most certainly is not, the above set alone cost £135-ish), in that the stations seem to be staffed entirely by apprentice wedding DJs. They really are awful to listen to, with the exception of the BBC channels. The pre-recorded links are usually terrible too. The part above where I mentioned that Planet Rock’s Pink Floyd month made me realise that it was a hastily thrown together channel is the fact that they were advertising it the month AFTER it happened, as well as before. Clearly they simply hadn’t taken the pre-recorded adverts out of their programming.

Digital radio is essentially pointless. If we’re going to be frank about it. Radio is often used simply as background music or noise while one does other tasks, such as driving. In this instance, a greater depth of sound is actually dangerous, as it takes a greater (unconcious) effort to listen to and thus diverts attention from the road. On top of that, if you’re driving around with friends or family, one would think you’d be talking and the radio would simply be playing for playing’s sake. There is no reason to have digital radios in cars.
In the home, one could just as easily use the internet which I would hope is standard for pretty much the entire country now, or even Sky TV, which includes many digital radio channels. The Sky Factbook ’08 claims that 8.9 million homes have Sky in one form or another. That figure will have increased dramatically by now. Even Freeview has digital radio channels! It really isn’t necessary to have a seperate, very expensive, piece of kit to recieve the same channels as you get on the TV or less channels than are available on the internet.
I know there will be some who disagree, but it seems from where I’m stood that digital radio as standalone units are a ridiculous waste of time and money. It would also appear that for everyone except huge radio enthusiasts, digital radio itself is entirely pointless. Until, that is, we are forced into getting it like the situation with TV right now.

But then, I’m already on digital, so it doesn’t matter to me.

1 Comment so far
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We have a digital radio in the kitchen, bedroom and shed. The main stations are Five Live, 6 Music and planet rock. I prefer radio to TV and yes, the birdsong station is great. S

Comment by Sally

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