A family gathers around and old-timey radio set.I work at a radio station.

And, I love it.

There is something rewarding about it–especially, I think, because I work at a public station that serves the community. Our format is Classical Music with a little bit of talk. We interview notable musicians as well as everyday people and put it on the air. We have intellectual individuals come in and talk about some truly interesting topics. We provide news, weather, and traffic reports. We introduce people to beautiful and inspirational works they wouldn’t hear anywhere else.

But despite all these wonderful things we do for you, you don’t listen to us.

I’m a little offended, sure. But really I can’t blame you.  You have become accustomed to ruling over your media intake with utter sovereignty. And so you shudder at the thought of someone else telling you what you should listen to.

So, will radio as we know it become extinct in the next few years?  The next era of radio seems to be upon us with the advent of interactive recommendation-based radio software like Pandora and Last.fm.

But isn’t there something to be said for the traditional form of radio? I say yes. I will attempt to explain myself.

First, of all there’s the human element. A lot of thought and effort goes into the programming that you hear, especially on a public station where selling advertising space is not the main driving factor. Knowing that there are people searching for the best music, best local stories, and so forth, you might be able to trust a local radio station more than a computer telling you what is worth your valuable listening time.

Maybe it requires more patience to listen to traditional radio, but when you hear something interesting or moving that you wouldn’t hear otherwise, the patience is worth the payoff.

Which brings me to the next point. Localization. At the radio station where I work (Classical 89, by the way) we know the only way that we can survive in a world of XM and Sirius radio is to make our content centered around the Wasatch Front community.  We highlight local events and people as much as we can, and feature recordings of local music ensembles.

The humanity and localization of radio will keep it viable. And yes, we will continue to adapt to new technologies and formats. But despite these changes in the way information is transmitted, the important thing is still the information itself. Content will always be king. And as long as the content is high-quality, human, and centered around a local arts community, the radio station as an entity can continue to thrive.