By Medicine Hat News on March 9, 2017.
Radio as a medium has changed very little since Marconi invented it in 1895 (or more accurately stole the technology from Tesla but I digress). Its transmission method has somehow survived all this time. Think about how the way we’ve consumed music has changed over that same period — vinyl, reel-to-reel, 8-track, cassette tapes, laser disk, mini disk, CD, mp3, YouTube and back to vinyl.
To what can we attribute FM’s longevity? It’s not that the technology was just so state-of-the-art right from the outset that nothing has been able to surpass it. There just hasn’t been another transmission method that all providers could agree on. This is not a unique problem in the broadcast world. Several types of “AM stereo” technology was developed but quickly scrapped because providers couldn’t agree on which type to make “standard.” Quad-stereo recording technology was abandoned for the same reason.
When the majority of Canadians found their way onto the internet 10 or 15 years ago, radio was there waiting with streaming technology but audio dropouts, poor sound quality and bandwidth issues were the price of admission for early adopters. Over time that changed with the advent of radio-player apps. While these apps solved many of the challenges, they failed to offer the selection and convenience of switching station to station the way any good, old-fashioned FM radio could. Until now.
Last week, the Radio Player Canada App launched; a collaboration of broadcast companies from across the country, offering 400 plus radio stations, all from one free app. Before this starts sounding like an infomercial, I will say that I doubt this technology will catch on completely until it’s available directly from your car’s dashboard the way FM currently is. That said, agreeing on the channel through which conventional radio will be delivered going forward is a big step towards radio’s inevitable transition from FM to digital streaming.
Radio will never “die” but it’s destined to change. There will always be an appetite for local news, weather and entertainment. If there’s a tornado brewing miles from the city, most would sooner hear about that than listen to Howard Stern interview a stripper for the 10,000th time. And that’s not to say that the satellite radio platform is without its place either. But the reality is, that radio, in its current incarnation, continues to reach 93 per cent Canadians every week. It’s free, always within reach and range and reception issues have just become a thing of the past. So slip into a bathroom stall at work with your phone, download the Radio Player Canada App for free and be a part of this exciting new broadcast frontier.
Layne Mitchell is on your radio at 105.3 ROCK (and your Radioplayer Canada app) 11am-3 pm weekdays.
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