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Evolution of Radio

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Evolution of Radio

Wayne Francis

Saint Joseph’s University


Evolution of Radio

Radio is a communication system that uses radio waves. During its discovery, radio communication included person-to-person communication and radio as used for mass communication (Daly, 1996). Both versions of radio communication are practiced today. Commonly the mention of radio is associated with a radio station that broadcast to the public. Radio wave technology is applied in most technology invention like the television and cell phone and hence a basic concept in communication. The radio technology has evolved over the years from the first invention by Marconi to the current version of technology available.

The Evolution of Radio as A Medium for Delivering Music to Listeners

The invention of the radio is credited to Guglielmo Marconi who was a young man living in Italy. Marconi read a biography of Heinrichs Hertz about experiments that Hertz did with the early wireless transmission. Marconi was captivated by the experiments and duplicated them in his home where he successfully sent transmissions to and from different sides of his attic. As a result, he felt that it could be a potential technology and presented it to the Italian government. The Italian government was not interested, and hence he moved to England and partnered the idea. He further enhanced it with inventions experimental findings from other scientists to create an effective communication tool. The invention was perceived as a means to transmit person-to-person communication among naval ships and with the land stations. Later the device was developed to, and it was realized that it could broadcast to a large group of potential listeners.  Sixty percent of American families purchased radios. It was common for families to gather around and listen to radios as they would offer nighttime entertainment. With increasing ownership of radio in households, there was a need to increase the number of stations. According to (Burtner, 2003), by 1920 KDKA was not the only radio station in operation. Most studies by historians inform that broadcasting commenced in 1920 after the historic broadcast by KDKA. Only people within close range of the broadcast station would hear the voices and music clearly due to the width that radio received at the time. However, the first broadcast awakened deep curiosity and interests in the public. The frequency modulation or fine music broadcasting was invented in the 1930s by David Armstrong in the USA (Lott, 1970). He pioneered some FM stations in America, and by the beginning of the world war II, there were 400 000 sets beings used. The giant RCA Corporations resisted FM but didn’t have critical patents for controlling the industry. However, RCA managed to delay the introduction of FM when it conned its regulators to change the FM bad form 42-50 MHz band to 88-108 MHz since Armstrong was using the former.

How Did Approaches and Markets in Radio Differ From 1920-1959?

Radio was seen as a potential medium for various broadcasts including sending voice messages. Business people regarded advertising as a perfect scene to inform potential customers of their products. The military also used radio waves to communicate with other ships and land stations. In the later years, the development of radio broadcast encompassed delivery of World War news and entertainment.

Advertising strategies involved the primary owner of the business-like record shop, retail store or hotel creating a portfolio for their business. However, most stations disappeared soon as they could not afford to pay operational costs. The studios were hand-built and operated with power only sufficient to run a reading lamp.

The global spread of the radio occurred in the mid-1920s with France and Soviet Union airing broadcasts in 1922. The first Chinese broadcast appeared in 1922 and other countries like Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Spain, and Germany. In 1925, other countries like Japan, Norway, Mexico, and Poland started broadcasting. The authorizations for broadcasting varied with each nation. Stations all over were challenged on what programs they should broadcast to attract and maintain the audience. There was a need to have a constant and sufficient supply of funds to support broadcasts. The basic strategies used were having a warm human voice and airing any music whether classical, instrumental or vocal as long as it was popular (Burtner, 2003).

Between 1920-1922, radio had become a product of the mass market. Most manufacturers were impressed by the overwhelming demands from customers as a result of radio advertising. Customers would stand in line completing order forms since dealers would often sell out even after increasing their initial stock. At the beginning of 1922, there was a mushroom of radio stations in the United States with the number revolving around 600 stations.

Some Methods Adopted by Artists to Maintain Marketability

Advertising: By 1920s radio had firmly been established as the most reliable advertising medium. Airtime started being sold in set blocks depending on the length of the advertisement. Commercial firms and business owners found the advertisement segments useful as they get exposure to a wider market at a low cost. Real estate and offering apartments were common among other adverts. Early ADs focused on promoting an institutional image to the public to attract listeners. Advertisers would combine their names with a name of the start or the title of a program being aired (Burtner, 2003).

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