In the online world, you’ll hear people talking about competing for eyeballs. That is, web sites, blogs, advertisers, search engines, etc. are all trying to get people to look at their stuff. This is an extension of television, where broadcasters attempt to capture your attention and have you watch their channel.
I’ve noticed that I have a similar issue with audio sources…there is extreme competition for my ears. Here are the things that I find myself listening to, all of which are screaming out for more than their fair share of attention (in no particular order):
- AM/FM car radio with CD player
- HiFi Audio system at home (includes AM/FM receiver and CD player)
- iPod mp3 player (music / podcasts)
- Mobile telephone
- VHF/UHF FM Mobile Ham Radio Transceiver
- VHF/UHF FM Handheld Transceiver (HT)
- HF Ham Transceiver
- Police/Fire Scanner
- Weather radio
- Notebook PC Sound Card (mp3 music, etc.)
I have left out some potential audio sources that have fallen out of favor:
- Shortwave receiver
- Walkman (cassette tape)
- Discman (CD player)
Of course, there are some very important non-electronic devices that must be listened to:
- Other people
There are two main chunks of time when this audio competition exists. The first is when driving my car. Clearly, we live in a mobile society, spending way too much time driving from place to place. I tend to listen to audio content while driving since it helps make use of the time and is (mostly) compatible with driving. Other media such as books or video displays are not recommended while driving.
The second chunk of time is when I am doing something around the house that doesn’t require complete concentration. I like to have something to listen to in the background. Often this is music but it might just as well be other audio sources.
What does this have to do with ham radio? Plenty. I find that my ham transceivers are getting displaced by these other audio sources. It seems that there is no end to alternative things to listen to and my on-the-air radio operating is declining. The biggest winner is my iPod, offering an endless supply of commercial-free music and a wide variety of podcasts, all customized to fit my listening preferences. There are even podcasts about ham radio, so ham radio is competing with itself.
The biggest loser is good old AM/FM broadcast radio. I find myself turning off the AM/FM radio, tired of the stale format and endless commercial advertisements of the broadcast stations. I really think broadcast radio is in deep trouble.
Is this just a trend or just a fad? I think it is a trend. What do you think?
73, Bob K0NR