Turn Your (FM) Radio Off

One of the many WTF moments in recent news for us old folks, per Lizzie Plaugic at The Verge:

Norway will shut down FM radio in the country beginning in 2017, Radio.no reports. The Norwegian Ministry of Culture finalized a shift date this week, making it the first country to do away with FM radio entirely. The country plans to transition to Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) as a national standard.

A statement released this week by the Ministry of Culture confirms a switch-off date that was proposed by the Norwegian government back in 2011. The government has concluded that the country is capable of meeting all the requirements necessary for a smooth transition to digital.

Digital radio is a lot cheaper to operate, which certainly matters to governments like those of Norway who offer a lot of the available content themselves. You get the sense this is unmistakably the wave of the future, though it could take a while:

Several other countries in Europe and Southeast Asia are also considering a national move to DAB, but no other country has confirmed a timeline, Radio.no reports.

Sic transit gloria. In my particular sub-generation, most of us share the memory of the moment we realized that over there on the FM band (rarely available in cars prior to the late 1960s, and not always then) was a musical and informational world remote from the scratchy commercial-ridden Top 40 bubble-gum world of AM. In my case, it was hearing Vanilla Fudge’s cover of “Day Tripper” on the radio of a friend’s father’s luxury car, via “Progressive Rock” station WPLO-FM in Atlanta. I have no real clue now to what extent digital radio is popular in this country, and for that matter, it’s unclear to me how The Kids figure out what to listen to. But FM sure did serve its purpose for a very long time.

UPDATE: To commenter Illuminismo: Bingo! Management frowns when I use a headline that does not optimize search engine traffic and that nobody gets, so thanks for keeping me from being skunked on this one.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.