Since its beginning in the early 1920’s, radio has taken on the role of one of the worlds most widely used media forms, as more time is spent listening to radio than any other medium. As most media forms, the primary role of radio is communication. Though as technology advances faster and faster each year, commercial radio is being forced to keep up with the times, and is taking this almost primitive media source to new levels of the digital age. With the introduction and future plans of Digital Audio Broadcasting, the industry is aiming to not just gain listeners, but fans, and offers a whole new look at the world of radio. Although the role of radio does not change as a communicative source of media, these changes see radio taking on new roles as information and entertainment are presented in much more effective, accessible, friendly and modern ways, and also reflect the affects the new media has on society.
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Radio has played an important part in history, being one of the original electronic forms of media and having the advantage of being simplistic in relation to other forms such as TV, or film, with homemade radios being a less than complex experiment. Radio’s can be found practically anywhere, in the car, in the pocket, and there wouldn’t be one house which didnt own a radio. The appeal of this form of media to society is in its 2 primary purposes; to inform and to entertain. In the early days of radio, it was used to reach country farmers of Australia and educate the children in remote areas. The addition of commercial FM radio saw popularity increase and range spread all over the world. The technological advancements brought on a change in programming, and also audience. Rock ‘n’ roll hits dominated the airwaves, and the youth tuned in to the new radio format. However, these days, the commercial stations are limiting to the market dynamics and playing the same thing everywhere you go. This is where digital radio plays a key part in expanding the role of radio stations into a whole new era of modern technology that will see radio hit back against the other advanced forms of media.
Digital radio has many advantages over the wave form, in all areas. The quality is extremely high in comparison, virtually as on CD, and there are no worries of distorted signals or interference. The formats and programming are offered with an enormous variety, commercial free, just like cable TV. There are a huge number of channels designed to specialise in a certain area, hence attracting a larger audience, and also giving the people what they want to hear, not just the same old music charts. The accessibility of radio will increase too, with the added ability to listen to the radio over the internet finding new audiences, and also increasing the range of communication. For a community radio station, the range of broadcast can be amplified from local, to worldwide, through the use of the internet. One of the most important features of digital radio is that it will serve more purposes than just carrying audio. Pictures, video, and text are some of the extra capabilities of this new form of communication. In the car, data such as maps, travel and traffic information, and business or stock information can all be readily available through the use of digital radio. In the not too distant future, the introduction of satellite radio will see an even broader horizon of technology in the way we listen to radio.
As the technology advances in the world of radio and changes take place, the role of radio itself as a communicative form of media only changes in the sense that the range of communication is increased. The radio becomes more accessible, more effective and more appealing, and will attract a greater audience. For society, radio allows communication of information and entertainment over long distances, and the digital changes will see an increase in the audiences and recipients of the radio, on a worldwide scale. Digital technology can affect many aspects of society. Whether it be education or grocery shopping, the digital age has played a part in changing many parts of our world. This new form of media has many, many advantages though, over the primitive analogue type. Despite the complaints that it may be costly, or too advanced for many people to use, digital radio holds the upper hand in society, as the features it offers are more beneficiary to the people, than some care to see. Areas such as emergency services; ambulance, police, fire-fighters, can respond quicker, and more accurately. Drivers on their way to work can avoid traffic jams with ease. In situations where maybe a person listening to a specialised program finds themselves moving out of range of the station, instead of the distorted breakdown-to-no-signal, the digital radio “smart” receiver can find another local station with the same specialised program and “feed” off that station, hence benefiting the listener once more.
Digital radio is a must all round. It holds so many advantages over the out-of-date analogue radio and is so much more practical that it will soon be almost essential to have, not just another media luxury. Through history, radio has served its purpose as a communicative source of information and entertainment, but has fallen behind in the age of the new media. Digital radio will not only play a part in bringing radio back as a primary media outlet, but also will affect society in many ways unseen by media before, and will see its role expanded and appreciated by all.
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