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The Evolution of Radio : A Look at Radio in 2023

todayAugust 15, 2023 190

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Radio is constantly evolving and finding ways to remain relevant over the many decades that it has existed in our society. It is, in fact, still one of the relevant form of media compared to newspapers or television. We are far from days when ten or more relatives and neighbors would gather around one radio to garner information from news and listen to the latest hits. The Kenyan radio sector is thriving with over 100 radio stations, many broadcasting in a variety of local languages. According to a representative survey in 2015 by BBC Media Action’s, “…nearly all Kenya’s adult population have access to radio (98%) and a mobile phone (97%) … and over half the adult population have access to the internet (51%)” . This study insists that radio is the best medium to reach rural areas and that it is mostly easily accessible to males than females.

Nowadays, it is a technological privilege to have a radio application on your mobile phones. With the aid of a pair of cable earphones that assimilate the radio’s antenna, anyone can tune into one of the many frequencies on air. Did you know that there are radio waves in the atmosphere but our ears cannot detect them?

Back then when we had a radio gadget in our house, there were switches for modes like AM and FM radio.  I did not understand the differences between the two modes however today, we have switched mainly to FM and it may or not be that obvious to all of us. These days, the AM radio is almost non-existent but the FM has remained in the scene alongside television sets, car decoder, smart phones and stereos up to date.

As much as change is gradual and painful, it is also very necessary to escalate universally from the age of listening to AM or FM into the age of listening to Internet radio, also known as Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) like Radio 254. Digital radio relies deeply on internet connection. It is the future of a world that is interconnected by the wide world web. Here are the reasons why you should switch from your FM station to our internet radio.

Firstly, it is highly versatile because majority of the population have access to a smartphone. This is an obvious realization and a low-standard threat to FM stations because even they despite having their own frequencies, are developing an interest in providing digital audio broadcast. The versatility of DAB allows easy listening in to shows even without the much needed cable earphones that FM radio highly utilizes. This mentioned, Apple made a crossover to using lightning cable jack in 2016 with the iPhone 7 model (Michael, 2021). Not only are cables not relevant to iPhones but also, the manufacturers do not install FM chips (The internal radio feature) on their phones. This makes it largely cumbersome relying on FM radio. Maybe the next time you see that friend who owns an iPhone, ask them if it has a radio app; chances are it does not.

On the other hand, Bluetooth earphones have also made it close to impossible to access FM radio, especially for mobile phone brands which are incompatible to an FM chip. Basically, that means that most radio listeners using Bluetooth listen to internet radio in the same way you stream music or an audiobook online or decide to walk around in a Do-It-Yourself madness of wearing both cabled and Bluetooth earphones as an attempt to circle around this issue.

With such technological detriment, your option inclines to using the internet to listen to radio either via your phone, laptop or smart TV’s search engine or using a downloaded application. An application that even Radio 254 has and can be found on both Google play and iOS app store. These alternatives are worthwhile for smartphone users albeit it leaves the users of “katululus” at the fringe of desperation and boredom. This is the reason why Radio 254 has a dial code for tuning in via a call. It uses mobile credit and is expensive but still, there are many who tune in via this medium. Over the past two years, there has been a wide audience totaling to 20 million world viewership

The perks of a DAB signals such as Kenya’s Home of 100% music and content is that we use an inversely multiplexed signal. This means streamed data is split into several streams that are then transferred simultaneously over several communication channels like YouTube, Twitch, Twitter and Facebook. This unique feature gives you a platform as our audiences to catch our broadcast sessions in those particular social media spaces. Not only so, but it is easy to access repeats because all sessions are automatically uploaded into all our respective playlists in the aforementioned platforms.

At the end of the day, you cannot have the sweet without the sour. DAB solely relies on internet connection which in turn translates to either the usage of Wi-Fi or mobile data bundles. Here is a good question, what happens when there is a power blackout or inadequate data for browsing? At the studio, we go to extreme measures to ensure that we remain online for the sake of our audience and we switch on our fuel generator. This enables our radio hosts to remain and operate in the studio despite what KPLC does as you listen unaware of our hindrances. Overall, when the worse goes to worst and the generator fails, we are left with one silver lining in the cloud: we have an automatic playlist that always takes charge and keeps our audience engaged until we are back online.

Written by: 254 Radio

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