A few weeks ago, I came downstairs from my bedroom to go into the kitchen, intending to do nothing but put my glass in the dishwasher. That was to be the whole trip.
But the radio was on, and the song that was playing caught my attention. What was meant to be a ten second trip to the dishwasher become a lengthier visit as I sat down, listened to the song and waited to hear what it was (The Adventures - Broken Land).
That trip was an inspiration. Not only did I discover a great song that I'd never heard before, it also proved that radio still has value, even in this modern age of Spotify, YouTube, podcasts and the like. Radio can bring new music into your life, whether it be the latest hits or older classics (Broken Land was released in 1988). That's something that, try as they might, other formats struggle to do. Though radio is often just used as background noise, it can easily attract your attention if your ears perk up at something they're enjoying. The issue with the other, aforementioned mediums is that they are primarily used for specifics; you tend to open Spotify already knowing what you want to listen to. Sure, you can shuffle a Spotify playlist - but you are given the option to skip songs, something you don't get in radio, and having that option to skip can prevent the discovery of new music. Okay, you can always change the radio station - but the song choice is never yours, and that can be a good thing because it leads to new discoveries.
That lack of an option to choose is what makes radio different and still so valuable. We know what we like, and when we have the option to choose what we listen to, that can restrict us. What you can choose in radio is what station to listen to, and that can be adjusted for taste. Pop lover? Radio 1. Bit more old-school? Radio 2. Pop and Rock from the last thirty years up to the present day? Absolute Radio is for you - especially with its No Repeat Guarantee from 10am-4pm.
Once you find a suitable station for your tastes, you can then proceed with other tasks whilst also keeping an ear out for something new and enjoyable. It's a more laid-back experience; you don't necessarily have to concentrate on it like you would with a specifically chosen podcast or music selection. This can be more casual, yet useful, like having a coffee with a colleague. There's little effort involved but in the long-run, it might add to your knowledge and repetoire.
There are drawbacks; ads can get annoying on non-BBC radios and sometimes the stations can have a real off day. Quite often, they'll cut off the end of a song or not even give the name of the song or recording artist - thus negating the point (it can be useful to have the Shazam app ready).
Nevertheless, the value of radio should not be underestimated, even in the modern day. Whether it's used as background noise or for exposure to new music, putting on the radio remains a remarkably simple yet incredibly useful form of entertainment. Next time you're struggling to choose what to listen to, put the radio on, because you never know - you might just find some gold for the future.