If you're one of the millions of Americans that wake up with their favorite radio DJs, you're in good company. Despite the rise of alternate listening media, Nielsen estimates 91% of Americans 12 and over listen to the radio every week, usually about an hour a day. Did you know that listening to your favorite morning show can do more than keep you company during your commute? Read on for some of the benefits of radio listening.
Health Benefits of Listening to Music
From KINY in Alaska to WONN in Florida, American radio is spinning the tunes people love to hear. Besides the joy of singing along, there are verified health benefits of listening to music. Music can lower stress. Listening to music actually lowers levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in listeners' blood. When you're less stressed you are likely to have better blood pressure as well and that was verified by scientists at the University of Florence. They discovered that listening to 30 minutes of music every day for a month caused significant improvement in the blood pressure of their patients. Obviously lower stress and better blood pressure are improvements most people could use in their daily lives, but music can do more. Amazingly, the University of Utah was able to show that listening to music actually reduced the perception of pain in listeners. Unlike the other two benefits, this one only takes place while people are actively listening to music, so if chronic pain is making your workday difficult to bear, turn on your favorite radio show to carry you through. Listening to music, as separated from different experiences like watching music videos, really engages the sense of hearing, expanding cognitive function as people focus on what they hear. Part of that focus means that the part of the brain that processes language, the Broca's and Wernicke's areas, become more engaged, a big plus for writers. For many people music also engages their imaginations. If you've ever listened to sad music to reinforce an already sad mood or specifically chose a piece of music to change your mood you've used the imaginative experience of music to influence how you feel. Another way it influences how you feel is through the release of dopamine. Music actually causes your system to increase dopamine, the pleasure neurotransmitter, which literally makes you feel better.
Hosts Create Connections
Another important aspect of radio that is different from other media is the role of hosts. Traditionally people think of morning DJs where as much time is dedicated to the discussion as music. As DJs share parts of their lives, their listeners grow to trust them and feel as if they know them personally. A parasocial relationship is one in which one party is invested in a relationship and the other is unaware of the other person. The relationship therefore can never develop but it doesn't stop the feelings of the invested party. This usually happens between individuals and celebrities but it is the same kind of relationship that listeners develop with DJs. Even on a bad day, listeners can feel that they have made a connection with another person. In a study by Jacobs Media Strategies, almost half of respondents said they listened to the radio for the company of the DJ.
How It Can Influence Your Work
The health benefits and feeling of connectivity a radio can provide can translate into a better work environment. Studies have shown that playing music in a work environment where the tasks are repetitive can improve morale and actually speed up work processing. Most studies agree that music at work makes not only for more productive employees but people who are just generally happier. If that news isn't good enough for employers, they should also know that workers listening to music were actually 88% more accurate at their work. Of course, listening to the radio isn't always the answer. If you're trying to learn a new task or process complex language like reading a contract, competing language, whether through lyrics or DJs speaking, can interfere with your work. That's when it is time to find your NPR station for some music without lyrics. If you and your coworkers can't agree on a station it can feel like all the benefits of the radio are lost to acrimony, but most stations are now available in streaming formats over the internet so everyone can find something that works for them. The value of finding a station and DJ you love is irrefutable, so hook up your wireless earbuds and find the station that makes you happy. With streaming it doesn't even have to be local. Tune into that Alaska station to learn more about life there, tune in in your old home town or find someplace on the other side of the world. The important thing is that you reap the benefits radio can provide for your work and for your life.