It’s doubtful there has been this much excitement about audio since the first radio broadcast. On Sunday Clubhouse confirmed our scoop from Friday about its latest $4 billion valuation fundraising. And today Facebook unveiled its new line of audio products, some of which offer Clubhouse-like features while others allow people to record short audio snippets and post them on their Facebook feed. As CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during an interview on Discord: “Audio is of course going to be a first-class medium.”
Well, yes, audio has been a first-class medium for a few decades now. In fact, as Nielsen noted in a recent study, a greater percentage of Americans tune into radio in the average week —88%—than use any other media including smartphone apps. And clearly, these new digital apps are a huge advance on radio, at least in terms of giving people the chance to broadcast themselves rather than just listening to others. Whether we all want to hear our friends’ audio recordings on our news feed is a different matter altogether.