For decades, radio was the dominant form of media entertainment at home. You'd expect that with the popularity of cable television, DVDs, CDs and the Internet, radio would disappear from our modern lives. Yet it remains as popular as ever, according to "The Telegraph," even supplanting other diversions in such locations as our vehicles.
Radio remains the cheapest form of electronic entertainment in terms of cost, weight and energy use. In fact, this is the only form of mass media that the U.S. government recommends be placed in emergency kits. For example, consider the Coby CX7 pocket radio. As of September 2009, it cost under $8, weighs only 4 oz. and required only two AAA batteries.
Because radio uses sound exclusively, it can entertain you in the background while you perform other tasks. No legal restrictions are placed on its use when you operate a vehicle, for example. Meanwhile, graphically oriented media such the Internet, TV and even magazines are expressly forbidden for use while driving. Radio can also amuse a large crowd, while other diversions, such as browsing the Internet, are available only to one person per device.
Advertisers target a market more specifically through radio than with other media. Radio signals travel only within a specific location, and specific formats tend to attract listeners of a certain age range and similar lifestyle. For example, if a marketer wants to focus on baby boomers, he can play ads on an oldies music station. If he prefers male consumers, he can market on a sports station.
Because radio cannot transmit images or video, it lacks the movement and color of visual media forms. It does not appeal as much to a generation that's been raised to communicate through visual means. Radio also does not transmit text, which makes it difficult to communicate information that's needed as a permanent reference, like addresses and directions.
Radio typically transmits information but cannot receive it. Thus, it is useless for engaging in two-way conversations like those available via the Internet or for downloading specific programs like you can with pay-per-view movies on cable TV. You can choose only among the available stations and cannot customize them.
Aurelio Locsin has been writing professionally since 1982. He published his first book in 1996 and is a frequent contributor to many online publications, specializing in consumer, business and technical topics. Locsin holds a Bachelor of Arts in scientific and technical communications from the University of Washington.