If you’re a commuter like me, you understand the importance of a good morning routine. Rolling out of bed in the early morning before the sun has the chance to rise and navigating the brutal rush hour traffic is, to put it lightly, a massive pain. Some people spice up their commute by listening to their favourite album or playlist — maybe even a podcast. For me, I hit the FM button on my car radio and tune into Toronto’s 99.1 FM — CBC Radio One.
Radio’s always been my way of ‘being different’ from my peers. As pretentious as it sounds, I always found a spark of joy whenever I got the chance to explain why you should listen to the radio more often. Looking for local news? There’s a bunch of stations for that. Want to expand your music taste beyond what Spotify Discover Weekly’s algorithm throws at you? There’s literally a station for nearly every genre. Sometimes, it’s fun to spin the dial and tune into a completely unknown station — some days I’ll catch myself thinking “maybe country music isn’t that bad after all.”
Jokes aside, there is legitimate value to radio that we shouldn’t take for granted. Especially the publicly funded CBC Radio One, part of the greater CBC network. When I tune into Metro Morning, CBC Radio One’s early morning show, I find myself learning something new about recent events — domestic and foreign — that I couldn’t have learned mindlessly scrolling through Twitter or the Apple News app. Hearing a first-hand account of a pharmacist, also a parent, grappling with the recent Tylenol shortage for their children from two perspectives, coverage of Canada’s run at the World Cup, and the lack of donations and volunteers at community fridges in Toronto all come to mind as important stories that many people might just gloss over. These important community stories deserve an audience, and radio is the perfect platform for all to hear about it.
The Rogers network outage of this past July reminded me of why we should be grateful for radio. I woke up that morning to see my phone not connected to the internet, nor the cellular network — “Alright,” I thought, “maybe my phone’s just acting up.” As I entered the car and turned on my radio, I heard the hosts discuss that there was, in fact, a massive outage, and the internet and cellular networks for Rogers users were unavailable — and my day changed drastically.
Many people scoured their neighborhood looking for a coffee shop with internet, others cracked open a good book, some even went for a walk. Me? I went to my garage, pulled out a really old radio set and tuned into all my favourite stations periodically. By the time the internet came back up, I had already gotten my fill of music, news, and programming, and didn’t truly mind the vacation from the device that sucks so much of our time.
At the time, I thought that this event would lead to a radio renaissance, and we would all be tuning in more often. In a way, I was right, but the truth is, this increase in listenership in Canada has been going on for a while. A 2021 Statista graph, which shows data from the Numeris PPM Top-line Radio Statistics survey, demonstrates an increase in listenership across many major Canadian cities from 2016–2021. Clearly, more people are starting to value that thing we all kind of forgot about in the streaming era.
I found some of my favourite bands through the radio. Maybe, the next time you feel bored of the music you’re into, you should try turning on the radio. You never know what you might hear.