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On rediscovering the radio

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Since 1892, I doubt that any Stanford student has ever said, “Gotta go. I’m about to go listen to KZSU.” For those of you who don’t know about KZSU, first, shame on you, and second, KZSU is Stanford’s FM radio station broadcasting from near Memorial Auditorium. Prior to having friends involved with the radio station, I actually laughed at the idea of listening to KZSU.

With the advent of Spotify and Apple Music, I’ve become accustomed to being able to summon whatever song I want whenever and wherever I want. Both of these streaming services radically changed the way I personally consumed media and music, and in a way, they changed the way I appreciated music.

Prior to Stanford, I rarely listened to music outside that of the radio. For one, Spotify Premium was $9.99 a month, and I always opted for the ads over paying that monthly fee. All the music I consumed was through the radio. During road trips and long car rides, I had no aux. Instead, my family opted for the heated arguments that arose from trying to decide which radio station we’d listen to. Music, then, became a communal experience and one in which everyone not only listened to the same music but also crafted each other’s tastes in the room.

That all changed with streaming services like Spotify. With a quick swipe of your fingertips, listening to music became personalized. Soon, Spotify was giving me playlists via machine learning quicker than any crush could. Everything soon revolved around instant gratification. If I felt like listening to a particular artist, I could. With AirPods’ arrival on the scene, listening to music also became a more solitary experience.

Now, with friends at KZSU, I have rediscovered my love for the radio. The selection of music allowed me to diversify my music taste in a way that may not have been possible from Spotify suggestions alone. Additionally, listening to music, collectively, enhanced the experience. Being in that recording room, seeing friends sing along to music, reminded me that the purpose of music focuses not only on creative expression but also on the sharing of universal human experiences.

Tuning into KZSU now, I find myself more than satisfied to come across a DJ with a drastically different music taste than mine, and in a weird way, I find myself back in the car arguing over the songs being played.

Contact Richard Coca at richcoca ‘at’ stanford.edu with your favorite song.

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Richard Coca '22 is one of the managing editors of The Grind for volume 258, having previously served as managing editor of Satire, and CLIP Co-chair before that. He is majoring in Human Biology and minoring in Anthropology. Contact him at richcoca 'at' stanford.edu.