Car Radios: The Evolution Of An Important Gadget You Can’t Do Without

For many of us, listening to music is an indispensable part of driving. Apart from keeping us sane when stuck in heavy traffic, music also keeps us company on long journeys. And for those of us who listen to the radio, the peppy voice of our favourite RJ is what pumps us up while heading to work or returning home after a long day.

But did you know that the radio, which we depend on today for entertainment and news, was invented almost a century ago to enable broader communication and exchange of information? Over the years, it has evolved into a sophisticated and creative tool, connecting people across communities. To raise awareness about the importance of radio as a useful tool for mass media and recognise its contribution toward societal developments, UNESCO observes February 13 as World Radio Day every year.

The Popularity of Car Radio

Be it the morning show with upbeat music and news bulletin or the evening show will traffic updates, we rely on the radio for entertainment and information. But the radio that you see today as part of your car’s infotainment system is a product of years of innovation. From wartime broadcasts to recording some of the greatest moments in history and providing essential updates during emergencies, the airwaves gradually made their way into cars in 1929.

How it Began

The origin of car radio dates back to the 1920s, when two electronics enthusiasts Elmer Wavering and William Lear, installed a battery-operated radio in a car. This radio was further developed by them, along with Paul Galvin, into what became popular as the first commercial in-car radio.

In 1936, Motorola introduced the first radio with push-button station presets. Following this, in the ‘50s, FM or Frequency Modulation radio was introduced to cars. And from then on, it continued to take advanced shapes and forms with technological innovation.

Radio Stood The Test of Time

Today, there are multiple sources and gadgets that deliver music and news; smartphones, music apps, CDs, podcasts, etc., but the radio has marked its position as an irreplaceable medium. Millions of people across the world continue to listen to the radio regularly. And as the Twenty One Pilots song goes, “Cause somebody stole my car radio. And now I just sit in silence”, we can agree that a car is incomplete without a radio.

Car radios also paved the path for more advanced infotainment systems in cars like Bluetooth connectivity and wireless/hands-free communication.

If you drive a Ford EcoSport S or Ford Endeavour, you can enjoy a higher level of this technology with Ford SYNC, which offers next-level connectivity. This voice-activated technology connects to your smartphone and is Apply CarPlay and Android Auto compatible. Apart from listening to the radio, you can make hands-free calls, play podcasts, access songs, playlists, and more, all with a voice command. To amplify this experience, Ford’s SYNC Support is also compatible with Siri Eyes-Free, so you can reserve a table at a restaurant, audibly send texts, and do much more without taking your eyes off the road.

Closing Words

Today, you might not see many people going out and buying a standalone radio or stereo. But radios are installed in pretty much every device, whether it is a smartphone or a car system, and you can find radio listeners everywhere. From online radio to community radio to commercial FM stations, radio has a wide reach and remains a significant mass communication tool. Even the Indian government and advertisers depend on the radio to reach out to the public. So, this radio day, acknowledge the power and presence of the radio in your life and turn up its volume.