Radio after the death of radio

Jad Abumrad, the creator of RadioLab, loves radio.

So it was a little disconcerting last evening, though understandable, when he seemed to bury terrestrial radio. “I don’t know a single 20-year-old who has a radio,” he told PBS NewsHour.

He passionately and correctly describes the creative beauty of radio in which the listener is a participant in the program. He’s right. The imagery you create in the absence of a visual is an important part of the experience of sound.

Abumrad, who, for the record, was the voice of reason a few years ago when his program opened some serious wounds for a Hmong family in St. Paul, suggests that podcasts are radio too.

There are a lot of people who think that, and they might be right. But that provides the fodder for an occasional discussion that used to take place in this business. Listening to terrestrial radio has historically been a shared experience. You are bonded by the knowledge that thousands of others are hearing something at the same moment you are; it’s like looking at the moon.

Is that still important? Does radio in podcast form suffer with its demise?

Related: Radiolab: An Appreciation by Ira Glass