The Future of Radio May Actually Be Video

In 1894, mathematical physicist Lord Kelvin predicted that radio would have no future. Even geniuses make mistakes. 

While nobody can truly predict the future, it has never stopped someone from thinking about it. Thinking about the future can be both exciting and scary, especially as technology is moving at a pace faster than it has ever moved before.

It was on November 2nd, 1920, that the first broadcast from a commercial radio station ever took place. This was a major moment in history and the beginning of something remarkable for humanity. It is now 2021 and radio is still one of the top mediums for communication and entertainment.

Has radio changed in the last century? Of course. Radio turned 100 years old this past November and has had to adapt too many technological changes along with the rest of the world.

Such technological changes in the last couple of decades have led to a decrease in the turning of the radio dial as more Americans are opting to listen to their radio via online instead of from a receiver. According to Statista, 57% of Americans now listen to the radio through streaming, downloads, satellite, or digital radio. 

In another decade, radio could be completely transformed, as they expect it to become more digitized and customizable to the needs of every single person who is using it. It could also be more widely accessed with the rise of voice-activated smart speakers like Amazon’s Echo.

“Streaming radio is one of the top content choices on smart speakers,” said John Rosso, President of Market Development at Triton Digital. “With the rapid adoption of smart speakers, it’s no surprise that their contribution to the streaming of AM/FM stations is increasing.”

As radio is accessed through analogue and digital broadcast receivers, as well as streamed to smart phones, PCs, and tablets, it may truly be the top form of audio entertainment for years to come. 

Apps may predominantly define radio’s relevance in the future found on smart phones, computers and other smart devices, including wearable watches. 

The creation of mobile apps for smartphones, tablets, and other devices have added to the development and adaptability of web radio across social networks. These apps are making internet radio look like the choice of tomorrow.

Access to high-speed internet continues to grow which will also help fuel the demand for internet radio. According to the International Telecommunication Union, 51.2% of the global population (or 3.9 billion people) are now using the Internet. The United Nations has projected the world will reach universal Internet access by the year 2050.

With billions of smart phones, tablets, and computers in the world, the screen is the king. Screens are everywhere. The future of radio could provide a lot more content for these screens which means visual storytelling and advertisements will become top strategies for broadcasters.

Radio stations might actually be even more equipped than their television counterparts to generate digital video content for communities. This is because the space on the internet does not fall between 87 and 108 megahertz on the electromagnetic spectrum. 

Plus consider which platforms have the biggest audiences. TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and so on. These platforms would not be as impactful as they are without video.

Online media spending in the United States was expected to reach $167 billion last year, which was up 15 percent from 2019, according to a report from Winterberry Group. In contrast, 61 percent of ad buyers expect to decrease terrestrial radio spending in the coming year, according to an Interactive Advertising Bureau survey.

“We rely heavily on a lot of video storytelling,” Byers explains. “And we actually call them stories, not news. [Our website] has become very profitable because of its lifestyle storytelling—it’s right in the wheelhouse of where our advertisers want to be. We focus on putting the advertisers right in the content rather than being an obstacle to the content itself.”

From the pirate stations of the 1960s, all the way to the launch of the first internet radio stations in the 2000s and the podcasts of today, radio is a media that has always kept up to date with advances in technology.

The possibilities are endless as the internet continues to grow. Radio will be ever changing in order to keep up and broadcast to all the listeners who will connect via watches, televisions, tablets, and smart phones.