The reality is, though, that radio DJs may not be necessary anymore. Technology has provided countless ways for listeners to encounter new music, and automated radio playlists have all but replaced the need for live on-air personalities.
F**k! I couldn't disagree more.
If anything, radio DJs are MORE important than they have been in decades. There's nothing like a real, live human being to tell me the stories behind the artists, the songs and the albums. Being led to a song by an algorithm is fine, but that kind of music discovery is completely and utterly devoid of context and perspective.
Sometimes you need a knowledgeable, patient person to explain why you need to listen to something repeatedly so you pick up the nuances and understand what the artist is trying to say with the music. You need someone to encourage you to stick through a song, even though you might want to bail after the first 15 seconds. You want a friend that can help you share in the human joy of discovering art.
When I was in my early teens, I hung on every word from my favourite radio announcers. I trusted them, even when they played songs I didn't like--at least at first. But if they gave me a reason to listen to that song, I would. Sometimes I'd end up liking that song or artist. Sometimes I wouldn't. But at least my opinion was properly informed.
That's the way I approached every on-air shift I ever did. That's the way I still approach things whenever I'm on the radio. I want to say or play something that will make as many people go "Cool! I didn't know that! Tell me more!"
Great on-air personalities can make the music come alive. They make it more than just noises coming from a speaker or a set of headphones. They tell you why music matters.
A machine or some kind of crowd-sourcing algorithm CANNOT do that. And it never will. The industry should always be grooming and encouraging new talent, people who can entertain, tell stories and make the experience of listening to music richer.
If radio is to survive and thrive into the future and if it is to evolve with technology, it cannot allow itself to be made extinct by technology. Removing the human element--the DJ--is the thing that will kill it dead.