It was the fall of 1999, and I was in a dormitory room on the top floor of Boston University’s French House – the building where I lived during most of university except during a later summer journalism internship in London in 2001.
My friend Jeff and I had an exam the following morning in our beach and shoreline processes class, so naturally we were drinking beer, smoking cigarettes, and strumming our guitars to classic rock on 100.7 WZLX the night before.
Long before everyone’s addictions to Facebook and their smartphones – and even since long before the invention of television – people bonded over the radio. That night, WZLX played Stuck in the Middle With You, a wonderful song from 1972 (that would later become synonymous with the film Reservoir Dogs).
Jeff said: “Great Bob Dylan song,” as he raised his beer for a toast.
“What?” I replied. “It’s by Stealers Wheel.”
We argued and could not agree, so we made a bet. We would call the DJ and ask him. The loser would take a shot of something disgusting. I called the DJ, who declared me the winner. Jeff took the shot and gagged, and I shouted in celebration and took a swig of my Natty Ice beer. We and the DJ laughed.
Three minutes later, we heard the whole thing play out live on the radio. We toasted with our beers and started to review why New England beach sand is rocky while Floridian and Caribbean sand is granular. And we left the radio on.
Radio has always been a top medium
Television is nowhere close to being dead. After examining recent data from the US and UK, I have found that radio is still an important medium as well – but with some caveats.