Why don't people use the radio

History of radio

The beginning: Foxtrot

When people started experimenting with electricity, one of the first attempts was to get messages across: first with wire, then without.

The prerequisite for wireless telegraphy was the discovery of electromagnetic waves by Heinrich Hertz around 1887. Tube-operated transmission systems generated high-frequency vibrations that allowed the transmission of speech and music.

In the beginning nobody thought of "entertainment broadcasting" but of the commercial and military benefits of getting a message across to many recipients. Detectors and tube apparatus were used for this purpose as early as the First World War. Stock market data were also disseminated in this way.

Broadcasting for entertainment purposes first began in the Netherlands and the United States. On October 28, 1923, the time had come in Germany. A foxtrot was heard from the Berlin Voxhaus.

The state and the program

At first, politicians were skeptical about radio: What would the masses do with this technology? But radio pioneer Hans Bredow, who was responsible for setting up a radio network at the Post, was able to dispel the concerns. Above all, he saw radio as an opportunity to educate and entertain listeners.

However, at the time of the Weimar Republic, the state wanted to control both the content and the technology. The radio industry was therefore obliged to only manufacture devices with which only a narrow medium wave range could be received and not transmitted itself.

Since the technology came from telegraphy, the Reichspost was responsible for transmission and reception technology: The radio for home had to be approved by the post office with a certificate. In addition, every radio owner had to pay a fee.

The radio as a mass medium

After they came to power in 1933, the National Socialists controlled the radio. Since transmission systems and reception technology were already controlled by the state in the Weimar Republic, the new rulers did not have much trouble putting radio entirely at the service of their ideology.

To this end, the National Socialists, first and foremost Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, first made the radio a mass medium and had a cheap device produced: the Volksempfänger, also popularly known as the "Goebbels Schnauze".

Although it was possible to receive foreign stations with a people's receiver, listening to so-called "enemy stations", in particular the British BBC, was strictly forbidden. The death penalty was imposed on the transmission of the enemy transmitter information.

In the early days in particular, this was actually imposed and enforced as a deterrent.

Post-war period - remote from the state and decentralized

After their victory in World War II, the Allies immediately withdrew control of the radio from the Germans. On May 13, 1945, five days after Germany's unconditional surrender, the Flensburg transmitter, the last station of the propaganda radio, fell silent.

According to the will of the three western victorious powers, the radio was never allowed to become a central instrument for conveying information in Germany. A state-remote, publicly controlled broadcasting system should be established.

The BBC system was chosen: fee-financed, decentralized and controlled by committees.

Political information was soon spread again and the radio used to spread democratic ideas. For example, discussions and programs with audience participation were introduced. Education and entertainment also played a role again, as well as educational work about National Socialism.

The Nuremberg trial was reported several times a day. And culture was important because the Germans had a lot of catching up to do: They had long been cut off from international developments in music and literature, and many great artists had gone into exile. Now you could experience them again thanks to radio plays and readings on the radio.

In 1949 the transmitters were given into German hands. In 1950 the stations merged to form ARD, the working group of broadcasters in Germany.

The introduction of VHF radio

Until the mid-1950s, broadcasting in Europe was mainly on medium wave. Medium wave had a very large range and could be used to broadcast national programs. After the war, the frequencies were renegotiated at the 1948 Copenhagen Wave Conference. The resolutions came into force in 1950.

Germany as an occupied nation was not represented and received very few, bad frequencies: the Germans should no longer have a central radio anyway. The alternative was the ultra-short wave, which, unlike the medium wave, only had a very short range but was of better quality.

The first VHF transmitters in the mid-1950s initially had only a few listeners, as expensive radio equipment was required for reception. But in Germany's economic miracle, more and more people were quickly able to afford these radios.

The development of pop radio in Germany

Until the 1970s, listeners switched on the radio specifically for a particular program. The hit parade was followed by classical music, then news and then a radio play. Every listener had their favorite time, but no favorite station.

That changed with the introduction of television, which competed with radio. The listeners should no longer wait until "their" broadcast came on the radio, but rather the radio should accompany them through the day.

The result was more variety, more news, faster reporting and a lot of music. One adapted to the changed listening habits.

At the beginning of the 1970s, the ARD stations started additional waves of pop and service. The pioneers were Bayern 3 (broadcast started in 1971), HR 3 (1972) and above all SWF 3 (1975).

The SWF 3 program "Pop Shop" became a magnet for listeners. The role model was once again the BBC. It was the first European institution to design a pop wave: BBC1. Pop culture, cheeky moderation and the latest hits made the station a cult.

The emergence of private radio

In 1981 the Federal Constitutional Court cleared the way for private broadcasting with a ruling. City radios and national programs conquered the radio market.

Difficult times for the public broadcasters who, on the one hand, had to adapt to the zeitgeist and thus the private sound and, on the other hand, had to set their own accents.

One consequence was that the different programs of the public broadcasters were more clearly differentiated from one another according to age and musical color. In order not to lose even more young listeners to the private sector, youth waves were also established alongside pop.

The Internet as the future of radio

In the meantime, the Internet has overtaken radio as the "fastest medium". And while radio presence used to be vital for many musicians, many of them now present their new songs on the Internet.

Fewer and fewer young people still have a radio at all. They listen to and buy music on the internet. That is why the radio stations are also present on the Internet. There they not only provide their listeners with articles and photos, but also with a live stream of their program. And countless web radios around the world serve personal music tastes around the clock.

Other great advantages of radio programs on the Internet are podcasting and "audio on demand" (audio on demand): the listener can subscribe to or download the exact items they want, then transfer them to their computer or MP3 player and listen to them at any time. Although he cannot download some of the contributions, he can listen to them on the broadcaster's website.