Am I the radio listener of the future?

I spent last Saturday at WGBH brainstorming how to improve The World with the rest of the World's staff. Much of the conversation centered around what the medium of radio will look like two years from now, and five years from now. The central question, of course, is this: When will terrestrial radio, as a medium, cease to exist? The question immediately adjacent to the central question is whether or not we, as producers and editors and reports and hosts, will be ready for it. Were newspapers ready for the internet? Of course not.

I don't have the answer. I don't know what radio is going to look like, or what the web is going to look like, or how they'll work together. What I do know is that I cannot remember the last time I listened to the radio. This isn't something I think about a lot, but every once in a while the secret will get out that I'm a radio professional who never listens to the radio. A colleague will ask where I listen to the radio, when I listen, or whether or not I flip it on at the top of the hour to find out what's going on in the world. The answers, for the last few years, have been: never, nowhere, and nope.

Of course, I still listen to public radio. I just do it differently. Here's what it looks like:

Each morning an app called Doggcatcher downloads about four hours of audio from a handful of podcasts to my T-Mobile G2 smartphone. These are the ones I listen to:

Now that I've written out this list, I realize that it's an excellent representation of my interests: Writing, poetry, news, science, economics, media, storytelling, long form interviews, comedy, internationalism, radio production, technology criticism, film, grammar, and coding.

Anyway, all of this audio hits my phone each day and I listen to it while I'm eating breakfast, while I'm walking to work, while I'm eating lunch, while I'm walking home, while I'm cooking dinner, and while I'm cleaning up. That's the day to day, but I also listen whenever I'm doing something with my hands that doesn't require a lot of thought, like juggling or working on my bicycles. The key to this sort of day-to-day listening are these goofy-looking, but exceptional, bluetooth headphones.

The point is that I listen to what I want, when I want. I hit pause when I want, I skip what I want. While there's certainly something to be said for stumbling upon stuff you wouldn't have come across otherwise, my system has made me a completely empowered listener. I don't write this under the presumption that I am exceptional, or that I have something figured out that no one else does. I only mean to make a case for what the future looks like. It used to be the case that the big dogs were being broadcast on terrestrial radio while the small ones were only podcasts. Now the distinction is much less visible.