Occasionally I’ll see a photograph from the 1950s of an American family sitting in their living room. They’re staring intently at their large, mahogany RCA Victor radio while listening to a program.
Why we felt the need back in the day to look at that radio while listening to it, I’m not sure. I guess it’s because most American families did not have television sets yet.
But it brings to mind the fact that many of today’s young people rarely listen to the radio. For them, everything is the Internet or TV. When in their cars, they listen to music they’ve downloaded to their phones.
Does that mean radios are a dying breed? Hardly. In fact, it could be argued that we need radios more today than we ever have before.
Best way to get timely information
Anyone who’s been alive and breathing the past 10 years knows this. Extreme weather is becoming more frequent and more violent.
Regardless of whether it’s an approaching hurricane, snowstorm, derecho or a sudden tornado outbreak. We need to be aware of what’s headed our way.
A radio is still the best way to receive timely information about threatening weather. At home, in your car, at a ballgame or at a campsite.
And this information might end up being much more than just timely. It could be life-saving. There are many true-life stories about people who took cover just in time, thanks to the warnings they received on their radios.
A rich tradition
It’s been said that radio was the first electronic gadget to play a prominent role in people’s lives.
Among the news heard first on radio through the decades was Britain declaring war on Germany in World War II. Radio is also how people became familiar with the music of recording artists. Such as Bill Haley and Elvis Presley.
There are even wings of museums dedicated to the history and evolution of radio. Including the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City.
They include radios designed by pioneering industrial designers. As well as exhibits showing the technological advancements of radio electronics.
The original mobile medium
Is radio on the decline in America? You wouldn’t know it by listening to the Radio Advertising Bureau. Here’s what they say about it.
- Radio continues to reach more than 90 percent of adults every week. Even among working 18-34-year-olds.
- Radio is unobtrusive. People don’t have to “lean in” to listen to it. They can go about their day with radio as a companion.
- Radio is the original mobile medium. People tune in on the go. It’s how they learn about news and traffic.
- Radio is resilient. It continues to play a dominant role in the lives of Americans. And is expected to maintain that position.
Radios work when phones don’t
According to Public Safety Communications (PSC), radio is still the most reliable way for people to access important information during a crisis.
During some emergencies, such as the recent recreational vehicle bombing in Nashville, Tennessee, communications went down. Many were unable to use their cellphones.
The same type of thing has occurred after many other disasters. Including hurricanes and tornadoes.
This is one of the things that makes battery-powered and solar-powered radios so important. You can still get important information through a radio that you sometimes can’t get through your phone.
As stated on the PSC website, “Disaster communication ultimately hinges on a surefire signal that’s accessible. And radio provides this.”
A bug-out bag must
Some hand-crank radios might look like antiques. But they are as relevant and trustworthy as ever.
They are considered an emergency kit essential by emergency authorities. The most useful ones provide NOAA weather alerts, sustainable power and light.
In every bug-out bag kit list we’ve ever compiled, an emergency radio is always included. It’s nearly as crucial to include as survival food and water.
Cell towers and networks are vulnerable. They’re susceptible to service disruptions. But emergency radios are dependable. They can give you the weather alerts, evacuation routes and other breaking news you need – when you need it.
And the very best radios also give you a variety of ways to charge them (solar, hand-crank, batteries and USB). And a power bank to charge your USB-compatible devices.
Yes, radios have been around a long time. But they are as essential to own today as ever.