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Increase your happiness by 100%, listen to the radio

— Media & Technology —

Photo: http://www.onesmedia.com/

In today’s fast-paced world we struggle with information overload on a daily basis. It’s hard to keep up with the constant bombardment of tweets, texts, instant messages, Facebook news feeds and Foursquare check-ins, let alone perform the duties of our every day careers. We go home for the evening and struggle to keep up with the laundry, the kids, our favorite television dramas.  When was the last time you just sat? Sat on the couch without a Smartphone in your hand, without the TV blaring in the background?  Relaxed on the front porch with an ice cold cherry coke? Sat around with the family because Grand Old Opry was coming on?  The late 1920’s?  Gathered by the fireplace to listen to the president talk about the state of our beautiful country?  Probably the 1930’s.  Probably never, because you weren’t born yet during the time of FDR’s infamous fireside chats.  Then again, neither was I.  Ah…simpler times.   The happier times???

Most of us probably don’t have time to stop during the insane multitasking we’ve mastered, to make the connection between our “extreme connectivity,” and our happiness, between our overwhelming need to know who’s booted off American Idol this week or our undeniable urge to know that the BAU caught the latest serial killer on Criminal Minds before it was too late and our true contentment.  It’s just what we do.  It’s who we are.  It’s who we’ve become.

A  study in the U.K. by the Radio Advertising Bureau found that listening to the radio makes people happier than watching TV or surfing the Internet.  One thousand people participated in the study, ironically, using their Smartphones, to answer questions about their media usage and their emotional responses  throughout the day.  On average, when consuming radio, happiness and energy scores increased by 100%.

Surprising? Think about it this way.  The study looks at radio as kind of a “lifestyle support system.” How many of us listen to music when we exercise? Most of us have our favorite morning show we listen to on our way to work.  We couldn’t have so much fun dancing without music.  Well, you could, but you’d kind of look weird and people would probably stare.  What is that one song that just pumps you up, gets you ready to just…go?  Most of us have one.  Music stirs emotions, brings back memories and helps to generate new ones.  We listen to music to make us feel good, unless we were just broken up with, or our pet turtle just died, so it is no surprise happiness increases.  I mean sure, one could find enjoyment out of watching You Tube videos.  Like that ugly little cat barking like a dog, or the latest ten-year-old pop star, but then we come across the one with the big giant pimple being popped on that guy’s back.  And then we check our online banking.   I myself get lost in the drama of those Desperate Housewives, but then my dryer buzzes and its back to my own “desperate” reality.
Maybe it’s that we don’t even realize the huge part radio or music plays in our lives.  According to Arbitron, radio consumption is increasing at a rapid pace.  There are 242 million Americans who listen to the radio each week.  Do you listen to the radio during your morning and afternoon commutes? Do you prefer to listen to Bob Uecker on the radio over watching the Brew Crew on TV? Online radio usage has doubled every year since 2001. Consumers are increasingly streaming online radio stations at work. Radio is embracing our constant connectivity. Stations are using social media and smart phone technology to interact with their listener bases.  They’re using Facebook and Twitter as a way to interact with their fans, and those fans are following.  Radio stations are continuing to launch mobile versions as well.

A recent article published on MediaLifeMagazine.com, notes that in the past six months, a handful of radio stations around the country, including popular online radio Pandora, have been launching comedy only formats. The results look promising. Not surprising after seeing the results of the Radio Advertising Bureau study. Comedy on the radio dates back to early radio’s roots. It was about as prevalent as sitcoms on TV. Many of the early comedic sitcom stars got their starts on radio. And if listening to the radio increases happiness, why not add in a little laughter. Perhaps we’ll see more comedic formats in the future.

Sure, radio doesn’t get the buzz other mediums get.  But then again, it’s not shiny and it surely isn’t new.  Lucas Favner, reporter for the Huffington Post, suggests in his article regarding the study, that perhaps the future of media lies in a retreat to the past.  I think what he is pretty much saying, is that radio rules. Don’t get me wrong.  I think TV and Internet are great.  I love them both.  I NEED them both.  I’m guess what I’m saying, is radio is proven to make us happy, and I know that some days, for instance days like today, I could use a 100% happiness increase more than others.   Maybe I’ll try this retreat to the past, literally.  Maybe I’ll go sit on my patio and just listen to the radio…after I update my Facebook status to let all my friends know, and figure out what to name my patio on Foursquare so I can check in. I’m so going to be mayor.

Amanda Janssen-Egan
Posted by Amanda Janssen-Egan