Radio makes comeback in Japan for those staying at home


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I'm an avid radio listener, but Japan's airwaves offer the worst content I've ever heard. I listen regularly to BBC World Service, Hong Kong's RTHK, BNN-Bloomberg, etc., which are excellent.

Different story In japan. Most of the on-air people are not radio professionals, they tend to be out-of-work actors, third-rate TV folks, or musicians, and the stations are frequently run by retired Dentsu executives (old men). It's like a stage play where all the main characters are miscast. I won't even get into the chattering over good songs and other annoying common practices.

The exception maybe is NHK's domestic radio 1 in the mornings. It's also great for practicing one's nihongo listening comprehensive skills.

17 ( +17 / -0 )

I whole heartily agree with the above posters, Japanese radio is the worst. Barely any music is played at all, and if it is only a small slip and then the announcer or guest just drones on and on. Too many celebrity shows that are aimed at pushing that person's brand. I keep telling people here that even now, so many commuters while driving listen to the radio as their main source of entertainment. They are surprised that anybody would listen to the radio while driving!

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Like Japanese T.V., Japanese radio is a no go for me. Both are mediocre at best.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Mostly talking and hardly any music is not a good way to attract listeners. And there isn't much of a music selection, unless you like soft pop. Nothing with an edge and nothing weird on the AM side like the US used to have with Art Bell. He totally made traveling through the monotonous west coast deserts tolerable. Even though I didn't believe any of his alien conspiracies, he was fun! But that's America and not Japan. Oh well. What to do about here...

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Stopped listening to the radio on these islands when I heard Stairway to Heaven butchered by the DJs who insisted on talking if Plant wasn’t singing. ie that long introduction. And that guitar solo? No need to listen to that.

And what were the DJs talking about? Obon vacation, the heavy traffic jams, and spending a few days with grandma and grandpa in inaka. No relation to Zeppelin, the song, or anything musical.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Starting this year, I've been listening to Net radio quite a lot. I got a Yamaha AV amp and it supports it natively and can be controlled by a phone app. Its great having Net radio and Spotify at your sound system and not just on your computer. My favourite channels are

Sensimedia Roots: reggae, not just roots, quite a bit of pre-digital dancehall

The Jazz Groove: chilled "Kind of Blue" type jazz, nothing too sharp or busy and great for late night listening.

Black Soul Rhythms: soul, RnB channel from NYC. Great mix of old and new.

Some channels out there are 320kbps mp3, which is pretty much CD quality.

My wife sometimes puts Japanese radio on in the car, but like the posters above, I find the DJs on it prattle on far too long in between songs. Some Japanese musicians do this in concert too. The music to prattle ratio is very low.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Not only music, and its true, Japanese DJ's talk way too much and cut short the music. My wife listens to English learning radio programs everyday. She's been doing it for 30 years.

I myself, prefer podcasts.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

InterFM is pretty good, and NHK on Saturday mornings, but apart from that most Japanese radio is utter dross. Just like the TV, it's full of "celebrities" shouting (why can no one just talk?) about nonsense.

In the UK, the BBC, which has a fraction of the income of NHK, makes loads of different stations for different tastes (Radio 1 for young pop, Radio 2 for classic pop, Radio 3 for classical, Radio 4 for news, drama, documentaries and discussions, Radio 4 extra for classic drama and comedy, Radio 5 for sport, Radio 6 for alternative rock, dozens of local stations, etc etc etc) and transmits them on FM, the Internet, and DAB.

Japan doesn't even have DAB radio and most people here will have never heard of it. In terms of radio, sadly, this country is years behind in every way.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Radio? meh, radio is pretty much dead to me, except for listening to online streams of sport.

Not to me. I'm listening to the BBC's morning 'Today' news page programme at the moment. I also listen to BBC Radio 6 - a fascinating collection of alternative music, and I hear new things every day.

As others have stated, Japanese radio is just 90% talk with a a little bit of music.

4 ( +4 / -0 )


And that guitar solo? No need to listen to that.

Haha. You hit it on the nail. I should be crying instead. So true.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The radio market was never developed properly here because the government insisted on having an HHK bureau in every prefectural capital, when they could have privitized the enterprise, sold or leased the bandwidth, which is free, and allowedcommercial FM radio to emerge. Never one to encourage enterprise, initiative or experimentation, the govt instead gave Japan the weakest excuse for national radio known to man. Jut imagine what having a megaphone in the hands of anyone not in the government could bring... change.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The problem with Japanese Radio DJs is that they talk too much. The love the sound of their own voice more than the artist. Furthermore, advertisers pushed them to do so. I doubt they want to pay full price for the rights to an audio track.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I believe all the BBC radio output is available online. I listen to the radio a lot, Classic FM (also on line) is a favourite as well as the beeb and a local commercial station though the overly frequent adverts are a PITA.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I read that Japanese radio dj's talk over more of the song than other dj's (globally) due to increased monopolies from Japan's music industry, making it almost impossible to hear most of the song (and thus coerce people into paying for the music instead). The amount of adverts and "paid promotional" content (said by the DJs) is due to the revenue stream.

I read that must Japanese people, unlike most other countries globally, abandoned listening to radio, creating more need by the stations for advertising revenue, etc.

Basically, Japanese radio and TV is dog sh*t.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I read that Japanese radio dj's talk over more of the song than other dj's (globally) due to increased monopolies from Japan's music industry, making it almost impossible to hear most of the song (and thus coerce people into paying for the music instead).

I am not sure if this is the precise reason, but I suspect that it relates to something like this. I suspect that:

the fees that radio stations must pay record companies for the privilege of playing their songs are high (hence the lack of songs)

there are antiquated intellectual properties rules about limiting the amount of time that a song is played uninterrupted to limit theft

No evidence of either, but that just seems to be how Japan works.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

"Nikkei, Japan's sole nationwide commercial broadcaster" The were called Nippon Tampa Hoso before and was and is still broadcasting stock market and horse racing on short wave. Today, people prefer Radiko to listen to it since sound of short wave radio is unstable. Though it is nation wide, listeners are limited.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Inter FM and NHK FM have some good music programs. Indeed , I was surprised by NHK when I do listen to it in my car the weekend

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Yes it does seem the concept of drive time radio, with multiple variety and choices for all listeners is almost non-existent.

In such cases radio can be a completely hassle free effortless background to bathe in or indulge in according to your wants.

That there are essentially no stations playing long cm free stints of pop, rock, jazz, hip-hop, etc etc is quite strange. I can only compare to Australia where radio listening esp in car and at workplaces is still very common and peoples exposure to music and info is wide.

What happens in other countries? Any clues?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I am avid radio listener - stream everything from abroad. At home, In the car. Almost unlimited choice out there, from National Broadcasters to Internet Only 24 hour stations for literally any genre of music. For the Premier League fans on here...nothing like a bit of the Sports Bar on Talk Sport from the UK before work in the morning, especially post match mornings.

On your phone, no problem, most car stereos can accept bluetooth audio now, so no problem.

It can take some hunting around to find a decent feed (as in something 192kps+ for Music) but well worth the effort, especially if you going to listen at home through a proper Hi-Fi. Investing in a decent streamer is well worth it.

If you haven't used before then TuneIn Radio is a good place to start - and although its Japan Today and everybody wants something from free, then upgrading to Pro can be worth it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Just in case anyone gets the idea Japanese people don't like music, that notion would be dispelled by Music Air, the satellite TV channel that's no. 324 on CS. Its kind of big name heavy, Clapton, Beatles, Queen, MJ etc. but they also show some really savvy stuff. Just tonight, they've had a Taj Mahal gig from 1985, a Prince documentary, and now its Chaka Khan with a really tight Blue Note-y jazz funk backing band on an old German TV live show called Ohne Filter from 1990. Last week, they had Van de Graaf Generator on. Its a bit like if you got Q Magazine to curate a TV channel for fifty-plus audiophiles. Even if you don't get satellite tv, any footage you see on Youtube with a piano logo and Music Air in the top left will have been ripped from this channel.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

These days, free music is so easy to access online. I've got an Android TV device connected to my TV and hi-fi, my phone with headphones, and both a phono cord and a radio transmitter (which plugs into the cigarette lighter for power) for the car.

Using either "Jango" (a free music service, like Spotify, but I'm not sure if it's still working), "Ymusic" (a free YouTube music app) or "Tune in Radio" (free app that can get most free radio stations from around the world), I can listen to "BBC Radio 1" commuting to and from work, don't the housework at home, or in the car, with my girlfriend.

Who in their right mind would listen to local/domestic Japanese radio stations?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Listen to online radio, shoutcast / icecast, no ads

1 ( +1 / -0 )

We have a radio/disc player in every room. Battery operated during a power cut, which we had last week for 4 hours or in a disaster.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

What happens in other countries? Any clues?

I tune into Hong Kong's RTHK Radio 3 from 4 pm to 7 p.m. (Japan time) weekdays for Steve James Afternoon Drive. Usually good music and hosted by a funny and irreverent DJ. I had stopped listening to live DJ music shows until I heard this.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Did know they were still any on the air. Stream all my music. Bet they still have a FAX machine in the DJ's office too.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Radio Station in Japan are either Classical music, Talk show, Jazz, sports, cooking or flat out boring conversations. I have never been able to land one, so I gave up about 16 years ago.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Radio? meh, radio is pretty much dead to me, except for listening to online streams of sport.

Podcasts are so much better than radio, you can listen to exactly what you want, so much variety and some incredibly interesting well made pods out there.

Music - spotify, it's algorithms are amazing at suggesting new music. Just be sure to like or dislike it's suggestions and it really starts to nail its suggestions, I have discovered so much amazing music from spotifys suggestions.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

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