Despite being over a century old, radio broadcasting is still one of the biggest forms of communication for many today.
Radio has come a long way since its invention, and companies such as Clear Channel Communications are helping to shape and evolve this tried-and-true technology in several ways.
Back in the “Golden Age of Radio,” a 30-year expanse from the 1920s to the 1950s in which radio was the dominant form of communication across the globe, people gathered around their radios to hear news, music, comedies and dramas, much like we gather around our TVs now.
Though the introduction of newer communication technologies has threatened to snuff out traditional radio, it has remained a constant force in the daily lives for many.
Tommy BoDean, operations manager for Clear Channel Media and Entertainment in Jacksonville, has been involved with radio since he was in high school in 1990. After graduating, BoDean said he went to work for a small radio station in northern Michigan, before what he calls “consolidation,” perhaps one of the most drastic changes in radio’s history, occurred in the late ‘90s.
“Before consolidation, radio stations usually had, if anything, an AM and FM station combined, but that was it,” said BoDean. “One owner, one station, that’s kind of how radio was.”
In the late ‘90s, the FCC changed its regulations on ownership, allowing groups to buy up multiple radio stations in different markets. BoDean said when this change occurred, “clusters,” or groups of five or more stations, began to form in cities.
Clusters, such as Capstar, continued to grow in cities until eventually, these groups joined together to become mass media companies, like Clear Channel, in the early 2000s.
Aside from the consolidation of radio stations, the massive impact of the digital age has easily been the biggest shift in radio. Whereas some forms of communication were slow to adjust, radio has proven itself to be one of the most adaptable mediums in communications.
BoDean said when he started out in radio, it was still essentially a DJ, spinning records live until it switched to CDs.
“In the late ‘90s, automation started to become a bigger part of what we do to the point now where I don’t ever need a CD, everything is electronic,” said BoDean.
The implementation of this technology now allows radio stations to operate for weeks on end without ever needing a person in the studio.
As online presences became a more pressing matter in the mid-2000s, Clear Channel introduced its Internet radio platform called “iHeartRadio” to compete against the already-dominating giants like Pandora.
With an early introduction to the Internet radio market in 2008, just three years after Pandora released its game-changing platform in 2005, BoDean said Clear Channel was able to more quickly adapt to the new technologies, unlike many of the company’s counterparts, further boosting Clear Channel’s presence in radio.
Clear Channel has continued to push the iHeartRadio brand by giving it its own music festival, awards show, as well as many other sponsored events.
Revisions to traditional radio such as these are what have helped Clear Channel and the medium of radio broadcasting remain a prominent form of entertainment and media in this modern age.
With iHeartRadio now reaching 50 million users, it seems like radio broadcasting is doing just fine and will continue to be an integral part of many people’s lives for decades to come.