What’s a Radio Look Like?

When someone uses the picture of a radio in an article, it often looks like this:

And if they are talking about a camera, the picture they show looks something like this:

The problem for both of these single use devices is today they look like this:

The smartphone has replaced so many of the past’s single use devices. Here’s a partial list:

  • Camera
  • Cam-recorder
  • Radio
  • Portable Music Player
  • eBook Reader
  • Calculator
  • Voice Recorder
  • GPS
  • Flash Light
  • Leveler
  • Scanner
  • Compass
  • Portable Gaming Device
  • Game Console Controller
  • Barcode Scanner
  • Credit Card Scanner
  • USB Thumb Drive
  • Portable Video Player
  • Walkie Talkie
  • Traditional Landline Phone
  • Clock/Alarm Clock
  • Wrist Watch
  • Timer
  • Books
  • Calendar
  • Notepad/Sketchpad
  • Newspaper
  • Photo Album
  • Contact List/Phone Book
  • Board Games
  • Watching Movies
  • Landline Internet
  • Checking eMail
  • Surfing Internet
  • Video Chatting
  • Thermostat
  • Measuring Tape
  • Guitar Tuner
  • Light Meter
  • ATM/Debit/Credit Cards
  • Airline Tickets
  • Business Cards
  • Remote Controller
  • Car Keys
  • Paper Money/Coins
  • Cable TV
  • Laptops
  • Getting an Uber/Lift
  • Magazines
  • Tourist/Visitor Guides
  • Sheet Music
  • Paper Tickets for Shows/Events/Movies
  • Diaries
  • TVs
  • Pedometer
  • Magnifying Glass
  • Compact Mirror
  • Cardiac Monitors
  • Stopwatch
  • Weather Forecasts
  • Banking
  • Train/Bus/Airline Schedules

You probably have some things I’ve missed. Please feel free to add them in the comments section of this blog.

Smartphones Wipe Out Decades of Camera Industry Growth

When I saw that headline, I thought about my old Canon 35mm camera and lenses that haven’t seen use in a couple of decades. Even my Nikon digital pocket camera hasn’t been out of its case in over twenty years. My iPhone, which is always with me, is my camera of record.

And I’m not alone, because worldwide camera shipments have dropped 93% between 2010 and 2021. This graphic from Statista show how dramatic and swift this change is.

Phones In, Radio Out

So, it was hardly a surprise to read the latest Edison Research report that found 88% of Americans over the age of 16 own a smartphone. Moreover, 31% of those smartphone owners now use it to listen to audio versus a traditional radio.

While the Statista graphic covered a ten-year period of time, this Edison Research graphic shows the dramatic change occurring in audio listening over just eight-years’ time. Compounding this problem for broadcast radio is the fact that radios have disappeared from store shelves.

Sue & I just returned from a trip to New England for our two-year delayed 50th High School Reunion. We stayed in our Timeshare, two different historic inns, a Boston Marriott, a Residence Inn and a Bed and Breakfast during our latest road trip. None of them had a radio in our room, but all had places to charge our smartphones.

The B and B even had an Amazon Echo, which allowed us to ask for anything we wanted to know about the city we were staying in, or audio we wished to listen to. I would not be surprised to see smart speakers appearing in more lodging rooms soon.

It was in the spring of 2000, that the late publisher of Radio Business Reports (RBR), Jim Carnegie, launched the first streaming radio station operated by a radio trade publication. Carnegie said that changes were happening too fast for radio owner/operators to wait until the morning fax to arrive. In addition to RBR’s website, they would now stream the latest news 24/7.

Jim & Cathy Carnegie devoted their lives to the radio industry and were passionate about pushing for everyone in radio to not be complacent and rest on their laurels. He not only talked the talk but through his publications walked it as well.

I will always remember what Jim Carnegie said about change and his words resonate with me still:

Change: you either get with it or get left behind by it.


Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio, Sales

21 responses to “What’s a Radio Look Like?

  1. Yes, relevance is the goal. Dial position and coverage maps are eroding in value. But a key component of relevance will always be the things around us. Matters that are local. Own that and you will save operating costs on obsolete transmitter electricity when turned off one last time. The dirty secret for TV has been that TV transmitters are merely the entry point for negotiating the carriage rights with cable and satellite aggregator which feeds 85% of viewers. Ultimately brand identification will define survival. The daily trappings of delivery are transitory.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Mike, you’re so very right.

    When it comes to TV viewing, I haven’t watched an over-the-air TV signal since the 70s. Today, all of my TV viewing comes via streaming on the internet.

    My students at the university (who were in the broadcast program) defined virtually all audio as “radio.” They never differentiated between AM/FM/Satellite/Streaming. In fact, they often told me that they streamed their hometown radio station because it was a brand they were familiar with and also helped them stay connected to the place they grew up in.

    Thank You for weighing in on this subject.


  3. ds52

    As we visit northern Arizona I will head out on my morning walk streaming a podcast from western Mass to keep up with my “home town” . Our Beast has a radio and at every stop I use the “Radio Locator” website to find local radio stations that might interest us … I am usually disapointed … even NPR seems to buy programming from Boston ….BUT I have listened to a few fun “Friday Night Football” games to get a feel for the area

    Liked by 2 people

    • While everyone calls public radio “NPR,” it often is programming from a variety of sources programmed by local public radio stations.

      The NPR brand is so prominent that it has come to be synonymous with all public radio stations.

      It’s sad, but these days many of us are disappointed in our local radio stations. Often, the only thing local about them is that their transmitting tower is located in their community.

      Thank You for sharing your experiences.


  4. Maynard Meyer

    There are people who still want a radio…just a plain and simple radio receiver, they just don’t know where to get one. We sell them in the lobby at the radio station and we can’t keep them in stock. They are getting harder to find on local store shelves but that doesn’t mean people don’t want them. Certainly many listen on their phones and computers…but there’s still a market for a plain old radio receiver! Newspapers sell subscriptions…radio stations should sell radios. No menus to navigate..simply turn it on and listen! No monthly fees either! What could get better than that?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill

      When you look back at radio’s history, it interesting that Crosley, a radio manufacturer, built the most powerful radio station in the country – to sell more radios 😎

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jerry Lee gave listeners a high quality FM radio, fixed tuned to WEAZ 101.1 FM back when FM radios weren’t a thing. WEAZ, then WBEB, was a perennial #1 radio station in Philadelphia with great local programming, well-researched.

      KZIA-FM did the same thing when HD Radio came on-the-air to let listeners hear their new digital radio service.

      What the radio industry needs is an innovative radio set that has people wanting to buy it more than radio operators want to sell it. Think of these radios as limited edition, collector’s items. Christmastime would be an excellent time to market such devices.

      BUT – if more local radio stations don’t offer local radio service (like you do) that people want to hear, it will all be for naught.

      Thank You Maynard for leading the way.


  5. Victor Escalante

    While radio industry publications are still denying the reality of the industry’s continued demise, we see all the signs. The younger generations want on demand music and content. The once ubiquitous radio in cars and homes is disappearing. Networks are divesting of local talent and selling off properties. Wallstreet has no appetite for the industry after low quarterly returns and bankruptcy from some networks. According to Wikipedia’s top rated radio shows, the majority got boomers and Gen X demographic. What happens when we boomers die? Rush Limbaugh is dead and the obits for radio have been written.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dave Mason

    It would appear that “broadcasting” – as we know it has changed drastically thanks to the 2022 “radio”. Smartphones receive the signal via RF transmissions just like your good ol’ Sony or Panasonic receiver. Maynard Meyer sums it up. Once the smart phone “signal” becomes simplified, and available everywhere, all it will take is simplifying the menu and- maybe-standardizing the user experience. Broadcasting (one signal intended for many) still exists and will forever. Live “broadcasts” will still attract thousands. The difference will be the source-eliminating the need for stately towers and massive transmitters. Smart “broadcasters” can use the revenue from the sale of real estate to invest in their product. Technical wizards should devise ways to make the signal more immediate, eliminating the 30-60 second (or more) latency. Many are saying “radio” is dead. What you describe as a “radio” in 2022 is much different than it was when we first fell in love with “broadcasting”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Included in the Build Back Better bill, is nationwide high-speed internet (Broadband). Expect having affordable broadband internet to be ubiquitous.

      To compete with this, expect cellphone companies to offer border-to-border 5G cell service.

      The issues of not getting a cell signal or high-speed internet anywhere in America is quickly coming to an end.

      The determining factor will be the content that’s programmed on all these internet streams. It will truly be an infinite radio dial.

      Thank You Dave for stimulating the conversation.


  7. Ian

    Another thought=provoking article DT!

    Here in the UK, for obvious geographical reasons, we have better mobile phone signal coverage, including 5G, and slightly higher smart phone ownership – 2019 it was 90% and virtually everyone 16 to 54 has one.

    There are age splits in how people listen to R……no, lets call it “Audio”… my grandkids, sub 4 will probably never know what a “Radio” is. They listen (and dance!) to music through parents phones and smart speakers. At that age, I listened to a radiogram, a big piece of furniture (with valves!), could scroll along a big display marked LW and MW, which had replaced a similar-sized upright piano before I was born.

    Teens and twenties listen on their phones, even tablets and laptops are in decline, and no way would they have PCs now. My two children (lates 20s/early 30s) don’t own “Radios”. These generations listen to Youtube(with pictures too!) or Spotify, Apple Music etc. Few specific radio stations cater for them

    Then theres the big age split, where the older non-digital natives have partly moved off their radio boxes to online listening.

    They have many more choices as the youth-reliving Oldies station market is big in the UK now, particularly for Baby Boomers, who now have “Boom Radio” playing mostly 50s to 70s music, by DJs from the same age group, but not the “heavy” end of the music spectrum too much. Interesting to note from their busy FB Boom listeners group that when broadcast signal drops (its not 100% UK coverage for that station on digital transmission) others report that they can still hear on their Alexa smart speaker, not realising that one is a radio, one is internet listening. Hence, typically late 60s+ age group are transitioning over from one box to another without even understanding or caring its not AM or FM, but DAB or Interrnet.

    Ian C

    Liked by 1 person

  8. At this point in time, I feel the Alexa has taken the place of the radio in most homes. Many cars nolonger AM radio and FM Radio is low on the requests of new car buyers, according to a chart I saw recently..

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It’s my observation that the Alexa has replaced a tabletop radio in many households.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: What’s a Radio Look Like? — DickTaylorBlog – – wirelesswaffle

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