Dickson: Social media and the importance of the radio community

Dec 5, 2023, 7:00 AM

Image of Utah's Morning News host Amanda Dickson and colleague Kate Davis, who says she is grateful...

FILE: Utah's Morning News host Amanda Dickson and former Associate Producer Kate Davis. (Amanda Dickson)

(Amanda Dickson)

SALT LAKE CITY — I have been thinking a lot lately about the effect of social media, and of radio, on all of us. I’ve wondered why, when I am connecting multiple times a day on multiple platforms, I feel less connected to my fellow man, not more.

What occurred to me as I pondered this is that when we are looking at Facebook or Instagram, we are all seeing different stories, different pictures and posts, at different times. The algorithm serves up an entirely different collage of images and commentary to me than it does to you. Plus, I pick up my phone to check my feeds at different times of the day than you do.

The radio community

Radio is one of the few experiences, other than live sporting events or theater when we are all getting the same information at the same time. When Tim Hughes and I report on a story or traffic accident in the morning, you hear about it as we report on it. We’re all connected in time.

If it’s 6:30 a.m., we’re all a little tired. When the sunrise is beautiful, we tell each other. In the event there is something that will make you late to work or school, we share that.

KSL also connects us to place. Our interest in Utah and what happens here joins us together. KSL NewsRadio has listeners who join us from all over the world, so we aren’t connected physically, necessarily. But we are connected by our concern (some would say love) for this community.

In fact, community is what KSL NewsRadio gives us. Gives me. In a time when more and more radio is pre-recorded in another city and played back for you, KSL is grounding. It turns out, we may actually need this ground under our feet if we want to feel grounded.

Meaningful connection

I am in search of more paths to meaningful connection. This is my antidote to the focus-sucking vacuum that is social media. I want to know my neighbors better, know what kind of trees are outside my window, what the students who walk by my window every morning on their way to West High School are thinking about.

My goal is to spend ten times more time talking to people in person than I do messaging or texting them. I want to see their facial expressions and know how they’re feeling now – not 8 hours from now when I finally get around to seeing their post.

I don’t have a crystal ball to know what media will look like in the future. If Mark Zuckerberg is right, we’ll move from social media immersion to the multiverse. There, we’ll be reduced to avatars trying to read other avatar’s expressions. What will happen to the human craving for real connection then? Who will we become when the closest thing to real-time is the constant refreshing of our feeds?

What I do know is that radio will still be here. Radio will give us what it’s given us since its earliest days in the 20th century – a voice on the other end who cares about us, here and now.

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Dickson: Social media and the importance of the radio community