Radio’s taken a tough hit in the past couple decades as smartphones, digital streaming services, and iPods became commonplace. Nonetheless, 90% of the American population still tunes in to some form of radio broadcast at least once each week. But, regardless of the size of the current audience, radio’s on the way out.
Traditional FM radio, that is. Much as video killed the radio star way back in ’79, digital radio is currently poised to usurp FM’s crown. Last week, Norway’s Minister of Culture, Thorhild Widvey, declared that by January 2017, FM radio would be phased out of commission in the country and replaced by a digital audio broadcasting system.
It’s a cost-effective and groundbreaking idea. In addition to being an eighth of the cost it takes to maintain an FM radio network, audio fidelity is improved as well. While FM radio is capable of exceeding the sound quality of an MP3 or AAC file when properly tuned, radio waves can be disrupted by power lines, tunnels, and more. Digital radio, on the other hand, is much more reliable.
There’s more room for growth with digital radio too. In the Norwegian model, the digital system will offer around 8 times as many national channels, allowing for easier broadcasting of emergency signals and increased market space. It’s the future of the platform.
Still, there’s something to be said for analog. FM radio is a classic, and despite numerous digital plugins and compressors that attempt to imitate the FM sound, nothing really captures it. In addition, many FM stations are staples of the community, and a transition to digital could spell disaster for some that struggle with the change. It’s a question as to whether or not modernization is worth losing some of the culture of the past. Let us know your opinion on the matter in the comments, Facebook, or Twitter.