Internet. Radio.

I recently relocated hundreds of miles for a new job. If you’ve made such a move, you know it carries its own concerns: housing, finding local merchants and doctors, figuring out which channel ESPN is on the new cable service… you know, the usuals.

One thing I don’t have to worry about this time, however, is radio station withdrawal. My favorite local station was The Banana 101.5 out of Flint, Michigan. Like many radio stations, The Banana also broadcasts online. Taking it one step further, though, DJs Eric Thomas and Carson Lee use the Internet to really reach out to their listeners.

They have established a significant online presence through The Banana’s home page, myspace, and other local websites, using the Internet to promote themselves and their show in a way that goes beyond basic or traditional advertising. Further, they encourage listeners to contact them through Instant Messaging–they use three different IM services–and often address comments received through IM, as they are received, live on the air.

This type of online interactivity not only bridges physical distance that airwaves can’t, but it creates a greater closeness to their fans, whom they endearingly refer to as “sickos”, in a way that traditional DJ-ing doesn’t. Could this be the future of radio? Could the future of radio not involve the radio at all? It’s an interesting idea.

I first started listening to Eric and Carson years ago, because they were funny and they played music I liked. Now, hundreds of miles from my old stamping grounds, hearing those familiar voices and knowing I can interact with them in a few simple keystrokes means a lot more. And while I learn the in and outs of the new job, unpack some boxes, and find a couple of new jogging routes, it’s nice to have some “old friends” who are just a mouse click away.