How Radio Creates Empathy

Jad Abumrad: I’m a TV junky, so I like pictures.  I like images.  And radio doesn't have that, which might initially seem weird but it’s kind of . . . ultimately, the coolest thing about radio is what it lacks.  It’s somehow empowered by it, by the absence of pictures, because what that enables is the simple act . . . like, I could describe something to you . . . like, when I walked up the stairs to come into the studio, the sun was out, and the sun had this weird kind of peachy white hue that was kind of like the color of a fox’s belly or something.  Like, you maybe just imagined something, right?  
 
Well, think about what just happened there - like, in a sense, I’m painting something but I’m not holding the paintbrush.  You are.  So it’s this deep act of co-authorship, and in that is some potential for empathy, I think, that somehow we’re doing it together because we have to fill this gap of picturelessness together.  We have to somehow be connected.  I love that about radio.

As much as I watch - I mean, I’ve watched so much TV it’s kind of shocking, but I love the immediacy and the connection that you can have with another person through radio, and I think it has something to do with this co-imagining that happens.  If I do my job right, then you - if I can put certain images and feelings into your head, then I know we can connect.  

No matter what you do to it, no matter what new techniques you inject, I mean, the power of this medium is rooted in the human voice.  And the human voice has so much information in it - the vibrations of the voice, the way the voice rises and falls.  The musicality of the human voice is the engine of everything that we do.  

So perhaps that's why radio never dies.  It’s supposed to have died about 50 times by now, and I’m sure it will be declared dead 50 more times.  But there's something that happens when you turn on the radio and someone's talking to you, and they're talking to just you, and there's an immediacy and an intimacy that can happen that I kind of feel inoculates this technology from ever dying.  At least I hope so.  That's my bet, professionally speaking. 

Directed / Produced by
Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd

Perhaps the depth and complexity of the human voice explains radio's unique power as a storytelling medium.

Being a father to a school-age girl makes men less sexist, study suggests

The findings are based on a phenomenon known as the "Mighty Girl Effect."

Pixabay
Culture & Religion
  • The study tracked the responses of more than 5,000 men over the course of a decade.
  • The results showed that men who lived with daughters were less likely to hold traditional views on gender relations and roles.
  • This effect seemed to be strongest as the daughters entered secondary-school age.
Keep reading Show less

‘A rare sight’: Astronaut snaps incredible photo of 5 spaceships

The photos were taken the same day as Russian cosmonauts investigated a mysterious hole discovered in one of the craft.

Alexander Gerst
Surprising Science
  • The spacecraft belong to Russia and two private American aerospace companies.
  • Six astronauts are currently aboard the International Space Station to conduct a variety of experiments.
  • On Monday, Russian cosmonauts conducted a spacewalk to investigate the nature and cause of a mysterious 2-millimeter-wide hole in a Russian spacecraft.
Keep reading Show less

Technology will kill the 9-to-5 work week, says Richard Branson

The billionaire entrepreneur predicts the rise of technology will soon force society to rethink the modern work week.

(Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)
Technology & Innovation
  • Branson made the argument in a recent blog post published on the Virgin website.
  • The 40-hour work week stems from labor laws created in the early 20th century, and many have said this model is becoming increasingly obsolete.
  • The average American currently works 47 hours per week, on average.
Keep reading Show less