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Tuning In - The Rebirth of Radio

Updated on March 13, 2013

Does Anybody Still Listen to The Radio?

In this day and age, how many people still listen to the radio?

Most of my exposure to music comes to me by browsing the internet or going on itunes or listening to my own CD collection.

The only time I listen to the radio is when I am forced to when my alarm goes off at 6:10 a.m. every morning; I get woken up by a song.

So when did I tune out? It was in about 1983 I think - 30 years ago!

But this got me thinking - has everybody else stopped listening to the radio or am I the only one?

Has radio got the chutzpah to survive in this new world of music on the move - through Pandora and the likes?

Radio as a media may be older than our great grandparents but has it moved with the times?

Is radio alive and well in 2013?

An old transistor radio.  I had one of these permanently stuck next to my ear in 1975.
An old transistor radio. I had one of these permanently stuck next to my ear in 1975.

Radio Days - The Golden Age of Radio

In the USA, the golden age of radio started in the 1920s and lasted right until the 1950s when television became the most popular media and radio producers finally acknowledged that radio would have to take second place to this new, modern visual media.

The UK didn't have any pop music on radio until pirate radio stations set themselves up in the 1960s.

So radio was beaten down by television, and video in its turn (think of The Buggles, 'Video Killed The Radio Star') and then television's music programmes like Top of The Pops gave way to MTV, VH1 and now about 100 satellite channels devoted to nothing but music.

So is radio still dying? Has the internet sounded the death knell for radio?

In a word....NO!

Absolute Radio's Christian O'Connell
Absolute Radio's Christian O'Connell

In 2012 Radio Was Never More Popular!

In the USA at the present time there are almost 13,500 radio stations.

Over 6,000 of these are commercial FM stations, the others are either educational FM stations or AM stations.

Evidence in 2010 actually showed that in 2009, radio listeners over the age of 12 increased by about 5% on the last listener figures taken in 2005.

An amazing number of people tune in to radio - an estimated 246 million Americans listen to the radio every day.

More recently, there has been emphasis on including FM radio on more low end mobile phones too which shows that radio still has an audience. Its integration onto modern technology is proof of its renaissance as a popular medium.

Radio in some ways takes the work out of music selection. I have an ipod Touch but occasionally like to 'shuffle' my songs just so that I get a chance to hear a bit of everything that I like rather than my usual favourite Cocteau Twins albums.

So what has radio done right to keep its listeners?

In the UK, it has realised the potential in having great DJs like Christian O'Connell (Absolute Radio), a professional disc jockey with a great personality.

Christian talks about Twitter, Facebook, his PC, his wife, his kids, the TV, the radio, music, sport - you name it, he can keep you entertained. He also gets a listener to pick a wake up song every morning - this is the one song I listen to on the radio every day (see the video below for today's choice!)

The music list is extensive and interesting - new music and the best of the older music.

In the USA, it has been the ability to change quickly which has kept radio popular. Teenagers in general are using the internet but radio has hung on to a core demographic between the ages of 20 to 70.

If an internet site needs to change something, they usually need to get a programmer or HTML bod in to do it, radio adapts much more quickly to public tastes.

Some American radio station providers have gone out of their way to celebrate America's cultural diversity with Hispanic stations showing the greatest rise in new stations and listeners.

Local companies also prefer the smaller, surer media of radio to reach their core (local) audiences and radio ads are much cheaper than TV ads.

So a media which should have lost its footing in this new technological world is, at the moment anyway, at least holding its own. Long may it last!

Many thanks for reading.

So What Do You Think? In your life, is Radio Dying or Still Kicking?

See results


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    • Jools99 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jools Hogg 

      5 years ago from North-East UK

      Michelle, thanks for your comment - I think the internet stations are a bit of a mixed bunch. Shame about your mam's favourite :o(

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      These days, the radio has gone internet.....lots of free radio stations around! My mum subscribed to one which she eventually had to unsubscribe from because no one was listening to it. :) A great hub.

    • Jools99 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jools Hogg 

      5 years ago from North-East UK

      Sophia, Sherri has commented on this as well. I think radio drama is second to none. Isn't it amazing to think that you can get so much 'drama' and tension and excitement by just listening -its golden age is gone but there is still some decent stuff around on the UK stations.

    • Jools99 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jools Hogg 

      5 years ago from North-East UK

      Kris, my earliest memories are of me coming downstairs on my own when I was about 4 or 5 and turning the radio on myself and just loving the music all on my own. We used to listen to shows with my mam as well, comedy shows but that was in the late 60s!

    • Jools99 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jools Hogg 

      5 years ago from North-East UK

      Tills, my daughter is getting to be a bit of an oracle when it comes to radio stations on the internet and satellite as well as across the normal airwaves - I do feel a bit left behind at times these days. Radio will always have its followers and I think a mixture of media is good for all of us.

    • Jools99 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jools Hogg 

      5 years ago from North-East UK

      ThelmaC, I think radio will always have its place and I think the radio on offer for women (in the UK anyway) is pretty decent stuff. How great that you worked in radio - I bet it was fun!

    • Jools99 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jools Hogg 

      5 years ago from North-East UK

      Sherry, I know what you mean by that 'companionship', you never feel alone when you're listening to the radio, you have a sense of being part of a much bigger audience. America has some great stations; I listened to tons of them on my way from San Diego to San Francisco and then from Cleveland to Buffalo. My favourite station was in New Orleans, they played cajun music - I was hooked!

    • Jools99 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jools Hogg 

      5 years ago from North-East UK

      Mary, I would love a ROKU box. I don't listen to a lot of radio any more but I loved it when I was young.

    • Jools99 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jools Hogg 

      5 years ago from North-East UK

      Joan, how great to start your own radio station - I bet the kids got a lot our of it. I was in Mexico in the Summer and the radio was on constantly at the bar (I was there A LOT!)

    • Jools99 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jools Hogg 

      5 years ago from North-East UK

      Sherri, I always only ever listened to music then I had stomach flu a few years ago and was stuck in bed for four days with only the radio for company - I tuned in to talk shows and radio 4 drama then and really enjoyed them so I agree with you - music is great but there is a lot more great radio going on beyond the music.

    • Jools99 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jools Hogg 

      5 years ago from North-East UK

      Dana, I completely rewrote this hub and I think I prefer it to the old one, though it has the worse URL ever! I only listen to radio in the morning or when I'm in my daughter's car. I am learning to love House music again (she thinks it's new but I used to listen to it back in the day) :o)

    • profile image

      Sophia Angelique 

      5 years ago

      I used to love radio because I listened to radio theater. This is something that doesn't seem to be in existence anymore. I don't like the constant music and the constantly vile DJs that one hears on most radios these days. So, no, I no longer listent to radio and I feel it's a great loss.

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 

      5 years ago from Indiana

      I don't listen to the radio much anymore, but I loved listening to some of the old radio shows when I was a kid traveling on family vacations "back in the day". I guess books on tape have kind of replace those:)

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      5 years ago from New York

      While the radio might not be as popular at home, there are still lots of folks listening to the radio in the car...I'm not the only one, I know my kids and grandkids do Bob pointed out, a lot of people also listen to radio over cable TV. I hope radio is here to stay! Good topic and hub Jools.

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • ThelmaC profile image

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      5 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      Great article. I guess my husband and I will always be radio fans since we worked in radio. He was an on air personality and I was behind the scenes in administration and sales. On occasion I would fill in on the air. Great fun!

      One of my most read hubs has been about the Radio Homemakers in the days that female announcers would share recipes, household tips, etc. on the air. They were like a friend in your home. Good old days of radio!

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 

      5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      I love the radio, when I listen to the radio it gives me more a feeling of companionship than just choosing my own CDs or mp3s. The DJ is communicating something to the audience. However, I am lucky we have an excellent, local, non-profit radio station in my town (KVMR - Nevada City, CA). They have diverse programming, music and talk. I hear music there I would never have heard anywhere else. They are available on the web. Long live radio!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      5 years ago from Florida

      I listen to the radio in my car, but not so much in the house. Since I got a Roku box, I set my music channel on that and enjoy the kind of music I like. Growing up in the country (before TV), the radio was our only enertainment.

      Great Hub. I voted UP, and shared.

    • joanveronica profile image

      Joan Veronica Robertson 

      5 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      As I live in Chile, it won't be a surprise to hear that the radio is still popular here! Our little girl (no relative) listens fanatically to the radio on the way to school every morning and even sings along with the commercials! When she gets off the car with her mother, I immediately switch to a channel that usually has a team talking through the latest political tidbit that affects us normal people in this country, providing food for thought. Us two adults listen to that on the way to dropping me off.

      Additionally, when I was directing my school before retiring, we opened a radio station, FM, commercial, legal and all! What a job! The radio is used for educational purposes and to inform the community of the small rural town where it is located. I learnt how to interview important visitors by using this media! I even ran a programme on the Tango with me as the speaker! In my opinion, the radio still has a long life ahead!

    • Sally's Trove profile image


      5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      I'm a rabid radio fan, with public radio being my first choice. I'm not very much interested in music, but I am in talk shows, news, documentaries, and interviews. For as long as I drive a car, get my morning routine underway, and perform countless other tasks during the day where I need my eyes but can free up my ears, radio will be my first choice of information delivery.

      I'm also a big fan of old-time radio dramas...When you can't see the story, only hear it, your imagination is energized! Unfortunately, there are very few stations that continue to air greats such as The Green Hornet or Dragnet, although you can listen to them online or on MP3s.

      I think that for as long as auto manufacturers continue to include a radio as a standard accessory, radio will enjoy a good, long life.

    • DanaTeresa profile image

      Dana Strang 

      5 years ago from Ohio

      This is super interesting! I LOVE radio! I used to make mix tape by recording songs off the radio. I still have them, dozens of them!!

      I listen to the radio every day. One of the things I like about it most is a point you make, it does not require any work on my part, I hit a button and other people play a variety of music for me, new and old, depending on the station. And I do like the occsional new ans weather updates. ... I do wonder sometimes if anyone else does becuase all my freinds seem to listent to their ipods or internet radio. This was SUPER INTERESTING!

    • Jools99 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jools Hogg 

      6 years ago from North-East UK

      Linda, Oooh picking your own songs on Twitter, I think that's a brilliant idea but as you say, it's technology that is forcing radio's hand at the moment. Many, many thanks for visiting this not oft visited hub!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      I still listen to the radio, mostly in the car, but I do listen. If I didn't I'd miss out on the newest songs and when I finally hear them the song will be old. I also follow my favorite DJ's on Twitter and Facebook. I am able to make song requests on Twitter. I love technology!

    • Jools99 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jools Hogg 

      6 years ago from North-East UK

      Hazzabanana8, I have seen it - really funny poo incident I seem to remember :o)

    • Hazzabanana8 profile image


      6 years ago from Southern Realms of England

      If you haven't heard and seen a film called 'The Boat That Rocked' I think you'd appriciate it. Think a more masculine version of Love Actually based around a pirate radio ship. A personal favourite.

    • Jools99 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jools Hogg 

      6 years ago from North-East UK

      Lesley, thanks for your comments. Absolute Radio is a digital channel and it actually serves London I think but I picked it up in Geordieland by pure chance and it's my wake up alarm channel.

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 

      6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Jools, I can't remember the last time I listened to the radio - which means I guess I'm not missing it! I don't like local channels, the ad's drive me nuts! I usually play CDs or play music on the internet.

      Voting up, best wishes lesley

    • Jools99 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jools Hogg 

      6 years ago from North-East UK

      Flora, thanks for your comment. One song a day is my only radio listening; like you, I have music on in the background when I'm browsing the internet. I rarely listen to CDs anymore but I listen to my ipod touch when I walk to work.

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image


      6 years ago

      I still listen to the radio sometimes-but it more likely that I listen to an all news channel or the local channel that has both music and news. Otherwise, I listen to cds I own or a radio station working over the internet.

    • Jools99 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jools Hogg 

      6 years ago from North-East UK

      Audra, I liked your question, it really made me realise that I don't listen to radio except when it awakens me but that I do like its interactivity more than getting music via MTV or itunes. Thanks for your comment (and your question) :0)

    • Jools99 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jools Hogg 

      6 years ago from North-East UK

      Bob, Totally agree about British radio, utter pap for the most part, Absolute Radio is one I found over digital radio by accident but it is pretty decent pap. Ta! for your comment

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I like your hub in answer to my question :)

      Radio is not my favorite place anymore. It is definitely not the same as it used to be! I miss growing up at a time where creativity was an option and music made one think.

      I am going to give absolute radio a shot! I am eager to explore it :)

      Your hub was excellent!!! Voted up!!!!

    • diogenes profile image


      6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Yep. Good argument. It's the TV or the cd player.

      In the UK, radio is uselss anyway, you can never tune in or here the stuff.

      The only radio stations that succeed are those coming over cable TV and freeviwew.


    • Jools99 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jools Hogg 

      6 years ago from North-East UK

      Thanks for your comments. I will be off to You Tube in a sec!

    • OneYearLater profile image


      6 years ago

      My last song was "Going the Distance" by Cake. Check it out.


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