A Project for Better Journalism chapter
A&E

Spotify killed the radio DJ

Spotify is probably the best thing to happen to music in our generation. It opened the door for countless new companies and an entirely new market to browse and pick out any song you want, anytime. High schoolers’ lives have become so involved with music that there is at least one listening app on almost everyone’s phone that they can’t live without. However, music streaming has also completely taken out the radio show market. After being killed by video, radio was looked to as more of an escape into a DJ’s voice and his music picks. With all the music one could ever want right at their fingertips, however, there really does not seem to be a need for radio anymore. With the electronic age booming, there is a complete lack of something our parents had: the late night DJ.

Being awake at 1 a.m. on a Monday morning really has no merits; you’re either an insomniac or so bogged down by work that you do not have the time to sleep. The early hours of the morning provide two good things: complete silence and alone time, which by 2 a.m. starts to feel like a bad thing. Once that happens, insomniacs start to look for a distraction. Article after article explains that screens only make your brain more awake, so watching a movie is more hurtful than helpful. You could listen to music on your phone, but most music that is made to put you to sleep is barely music. Possibly a podcast boring enough to put you to sleep exists, but as an insomniac, it is better to be entertained and relax than to just fall asleep from boredom.

There used to be an easy solution for night owls— they could always turn to their favorite DJ and waste their night listening to music that couldn’t be played during normal hours, or his stories that he felt he could not tell when everyone was listening, or call-ins from people that were suffering from the same lack of sleep. It became possible to enjoy the 2:30 a.m. hours because you knew someone else was going through the same thing as you. It seems like today I hear the same ten songs on 93.3 over and over again, because a DJ has a setlist now and can only vary slightly from it. But after midnight you might hear a full album played in the right order. Hearing music that isn’t being played on any other radio station would open my eyes to new music faster than any Spotify playlist could.

Being awake at 3 a.m. is a lonely experience. Podcasts cannot cut it; I need to hear a person making it up as they go along; there needs to be an actual booth that has a living human being in it who is talking at the same time as I am listening. Having as much music as I want on my phone is one of those things I can never go back from. Having a completely different, honest perspective on music, something that opened me to a completely new genre of music would be amazing. Hearing the voice of someone who is lying in bed as bored as me would be unbeatable. To be able to do this all without putting in any effort but tuning my radio to the correct station, seems relaxing. Spotify killed late night DJs, and all I can hope for is that, in a few years, something can come along that provides the same solace— just something that can give me a reason to be awake at 2 a.m. on a Monday morning.

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