Marc Fisher is radio's biggest fan. His book, Something In The Air, is a paean to the medium he grew up loving as a kid in New York City. (Want to hear a great Talk of the Nation? Listen to this.) But in the immortal words of — well, I don't actually know — if you love something, set it free. Marc Fisher is setting radio free, and giving up his weekly Washington Post column, "The Listener." And he is going out with a big hug, and a serious spanking for his beloved radio — check this out.
This is the last edition of The Listener, a column I have been writing on and off since 1995, and as I look back on some of the characters I have written about here and in "Something in the Air," my book about radio and what happens to old media when new technologies come along, I find a business and an art form in trouble: Just when radio cries out for creative revival, it is instead slipping into a disgruntled decline.
Today, hardly anyone turns on the radio expecting to be lured into intimate obsessions with voices that return each night, baring their souls and insisting on a relationship with the listener. Instead, we seek more voyeuristic entertainment in the far more random worlds of Facebook and MySpace, places where the lines between friend and stranger are fuzzy enough to deliver a bit of a thrill, but where expectations are lower and the talent is mostly anonymous and amateur.
Rough, right? Well, we wanted to hear him say it — right to our face! — so we've invited him and his "Listener" swansong to the Newseum.