Thursday, 13 December 2007

What's the purpose of radio?

Some days ago there was a videochat with an italian journalist (Beppe Severgnini) and 2 people who work in radio.
The topic of the videochat was "What's the purpose of radio?" and, during the chat, people could send messages, obviously.
I read and i saved the messages of people, some were useless and some were interesting.
Anyway, my question would be: "What's the purpose of radio, beside making money?"
John Reith (General manager and Chairman of the BBC from 1922 till 1938) was clear: unlike the USA, the mission of (public) radio (and later tv) is "to inform, educate and entertain". Still today that sentence is in BBC website.
But John Reith was a man of his era (like everybody): in 50's he was against the Television Act (1954) that allowed the creation of a private tv. Could you imagine anybody now opposing the existence of private broadcasters?
Even without public broadcasters we can be informed and entertained. I don't honestly think that radio can educate anyone now!
One message (of the videochat) was quite interesting: "Are podcasting now like pirate radio in 70's"? (In Italy pirate radio were broadcasting in 70's, not 60's).
Well, yes, that could be true. My opinion is that we are like in the UK in 60's: pirate radio were pushing and trying to reshape the whole system. The political solution of that time (law in 1967 to switch off pirates and licences in 1973 for private radio) is not possible now: you can't unplug Internet for 6 years or for 6 days! The old system of media is collapsing and mainstream radio (through the air) could be one of the first victims.
What's the purpose of radio? I can't tell but radio must rethink its mission (now the only mission is trying to sell cd of top 40), otherwise radio won't have any purpose very soon.

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