Radio is Dead, Long live Radio! Has the in-car Analogue Radio met its Demise?

CAC Admin |

Radio has been mourned many times in its history, most notably in songs by Queen and The Buggles. While that may seem like an unfortunate eulogy, it is one that is happily premature. Yes, analogue radio is on the wane in terms of new production. Digital radio is now cheap and compact and MP3/Bluetooth integration has brought the iPod revolution to the highways. But analogue isn’t going anywhere. Instead it’s embraced the uncertainty of the future and bust out of its rut, ready for what comes next. To begin with consider this: why, given the rise of the above, do commercial stations and the BBC continue to use analogue signals? Why bother to continue with such a blatant anachronism when modern technology seems to offer you music before you even knew you wanted it? Could it be because most people have chosen to enjoy their radio in exactly the same way they have before? Well yes and no. New model cars continue to install far more sophisticated kit as standard as do the vast majority of after-market sound systems. Crucially though, there is still AM/FM tuning available. While it would be wrong to say that analogue radio will remain an unchanged entity, it has clearly carved out its own niche to survive in. For the millions of car models on the road that are not relatively new, the traditional radio; radio/cassette; radio/CD setup is still king of the road. Where changes have been made, there is still an option to use the old ways. The excitement and flexibility of new options does not mean the death of old ones, just that evolution is necessary. While it is unlikely that the present arrangement will remain forever, the new wave of technology has that covered. Eventually car makers will sell models that have no need for analogue signals. Much like television switched over to digital signals in Britain, there will come a time when analogue signals are finally unnecessary. AM/FM tuning will no longer be needed, but it won’t matter. Changing the way a signal is received and sent doesn’t alter what the substance of what is heard. Analogue radio will shed its body but not its spirit. It will be a mobile-broadband fed, digital quality sound that can be controlled by umpteen gadgets. But it will still be the same content, crisper and uninterrupted maybe, but the same nonetheless.