Radio: for older Aussies it has a special place in their hearts

Dr Amanda Krause, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions and the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, University of Melbourne, is currently exploring the listening habits of older Australians.

With the country’s aging population rapidly growing, Dr Krause became interested in the link between listening and wellbeing.
Dr Krause found that people not only have strong preferences for radio programming from talkback to different music genres, but that the listener can also have a strong connection with some presenters.
“I think it is the human connection, that it is the voice.”
According to Dr Krause “So some people are saying they’re alone at home but they can put on the radio, they can participate in a conversation, there’s somebody else present through that listening.”
Dr Krause says that part of the study is to find out if it’s possible to work with radio programmers, and then  teach people to have a tool that they can use themselves to regulate their well-being.
Her full interview with Steve Grimwade is here.

“What I’m really interested here is extending this idea of the link between listening in our everyday lives and well-being. We know that the Australian population is ageing and the amount of people in that older band is rapidly increasing and this is a big concern, how do we deal with this? You know, the associated issues that come along with ageing.

“So what I’m really interested in is considering the radio, because it’s a longstanding familiar medium that we have immediate access to. Oftentimes in remote and regional places it’s a still functioning medium where maybe you don’t necessarily have cellular reception but the radio will still work. So how can we look at this tool and think about it in terms of how it can benefit our well-being?

“This project has multiple phases. Phase 1, we did interviews. So I talked to people around the Greater Melbourne area just to get a sense of how they use the radio, what their preferences are, what their motivations for listening are and a couple really interesting things came out of that. One, very clearly, people know what they like and what they don’t like and that’s personal preference for all of us. So it might be, I love talkback or I can’t stand it and switch to music. Or it could be – what’s also really interesting and I wasn’t necessarily anticipating this, but I think this speaks to radio, not just music listening, which is what my background is in research, but people had really strong preferences for certain presenters.

“A few people told me, you know so-and-so was on this program, listened to it all the time and then they left. So they either sort of chased the dial to find that person or really then weren’t really liking what was being put in place. So people have very strong preferences for what they want to hear.

“The other really interesting idea which I want to pull on this thread further is this idea between a radio listening habit that is, I put it on to help me when I wake up or it’s on throughout the day or I can’t sleep so it’s on, where it’s just in the background, providing that noise, providing that stimulation, versus some people talk about their relationship with it more as a companion, and that’s what I’m really interested in. So some people are saying they’re alone at home but they can put on the radio, they can participate in a conversation, there’s somebody else present through that listening. That’s a really interesting idea, especially when we think about what we’re interested in, loneliness and social isolation.”

The study is being supported by the Community Broadcast Foundation and worked with participants aged 65 and older to explore how radio programming impacts their lives.


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