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Time-Lapse Radio


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As one of the "feisty regulars" quoted in the February 20 article about the WBEZ Web page [Hot Type], I'd like to comment on station manager Torey Malatia's defense of what I think is an effort to melt down Chicago public radio into the rest of a vast broadcasting wasteland.

His dismissal of the concept of live radio is particularly pitiful. I find his arguments against it ignorant and self-serving. "Live radio served audiences well in a bygone era," he says, suggesting that one can now "time-shift anything you want," claiming that tape and the Internet are viable ways of doing so.

The Internet? Judging by the almost unanimously negative comments from Web-savvy listeners posting to the WBEZ site, it would seem that Internet audio doesn't quite cut it yet. Tape? Sure, you can hook a VCR up to a radio or cable box and program it to record your favorite WBEZ programs. So he says. Right. Just ask the Radio Shack guy to explain how that works. I'd end up with Jerry Springer speaking in Spanish.

Places I can listen to the radio:

Car. Bed. Shower. Bathroom. Work. Friend's house. Airport. Bus. El. Lakefront. Doctor's waiting room. Sidewalk. Did I mention the car?

Places to listen to my VCR or a tinny computer:

At my desk. In front of my TV. Oh wait, I'll log in from the cellular, patch it into my laptop, turn it up really loud, and listen to Bob Edwards talk into a tin can. That'll work.

Even if I did own a laptop, WBEZ doesn't even have any audio on the Web yet, yet Malatia seems to be planning his new station around this futuristic concept of audio on demand.

I believe someday that technology will exist--full-quality digital audio and video that we can easily get right from our home computer of the future or quickly download to some digital thingy and pop into a Walkman. And I think that will indeed present an interesting scenario for live broadcasting. Malatia suggests that it's the end of a "bygone era." But when everything that has already happened is on tape and readily available, there will be no more need for "broadcasting"--except to present that which is live.

So I don't think live is dead. Apparently Torey Malatia does and wants to bury it. We shouldn't let him.

Mark Augustine

N. Hoyne

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