As we approach the thirtieth anniversary of MTV, I report with great pleasure that the Buggles were wrong. A new study in the U.K. commissioned by the Radio Advertising Bureau concluded that people are happier when listening to the radio than they are watching television or surfing the internet.
The study looked at 1,000 Britons, who used their smartphones to complete questionnaires about their media consumption and emotional responses at various times of the day. The study authors noted that, "On average, when consuming radio, happiness and energy scores increase by 100% and 300% compared to when no media is being consumed."
The authors wrote that radio is a kind of "lifestyle support system" that helps people feel better as they go about their days. Anecdotally, this makes perfect sense — how many incredibly mundane and shitty jobs have you had that were made bearable by the presence of a radio?
The study's participants claimed to experience "peaks and troughs" while consuming television and online media, but radio gave them a "consistent environment themed and shaped" to suit their needs at any given moment, which I attribute largely to the fact that it's impossible to be bombarded by Sarah McLachlan singing over a montage of sad animals while listening to the radio.
I like listening to radio because there's a loss of self involved — as our media experience becomes increasingly oriented towards providing you, the all-powerful consumer, with media tailored to your exact needs, it can be nice to have a DJ make your decisions for you. It's like a trust fall, except sometimes it involves "More Than A Feeling." And that is a 300-percent increase in happiness waiting to happen.