Most people don’t understand the mechanics of how radio broadcasting works. While some people may claim to have a vague familiarity with the process of radio wave and sound, many do not truly understand the basics of how a broadcasting system actually works. When researching the ends and outs of broadcasting, too much confusing terminology creeps up, leaving the reader blindsided by terminology they don’t really understand. But truly comprehending what it takes for a radio broadcast system to function really doesn’t have to be as complex as it first appears on the Internet. So the question remains, how exactly do our favourite songs and programs stream through the air to wind up on radios?
Beginning with basics, radio broadcasting performs as a single transmission that is carried through radio waves with the intention of reaching an audience. This wireless transmission is actually electromagnetic energy (radio waves) that is transferable through space, allowing information (sound) to travel while it is modulated. These radio waves then come into contact with an electrical conductor that causes certain fields to emit an alternating current where the waves can be transformed into the original form. In order for this process to take place, there must first be a radio transmitter that can manipulate sound (with the possibility of taking on multiple forms of modulation). An interesting component to radio is that there are different signal waves that can be transmitted; this is where AM and FM radio is derived. AM radio (or Amplitude modulations) differs from FM radio (or Frequency modulation) because it varies the strength of the signal in conjunction with the size of information that is being transmitted. This was the original form of radio. FM radio varies the frequency of the signal, meaning that the immediate frequency from the carrier will always be proportionate to the immediate strength of the input signal. Interesting, no?!
The next component to radio broadcasting is the antenna, whose job is to both send and receive electrical currents and radio waves. A broadcasting system can only work with if it has an antenna that can emit the transmission. So when tuning the radio to select your favorite station, it is key to know that it is the electrical resonance that allows the user to pick a radio station. Once the radio receiver has obtained the information from the antenna, it is able to convert it into the desired projection, whether that be sound, pictures, digital media, etc. A radio broadcasting system can only work with the necessary radio equipment (the transmitter and receiver, with both having an antenna and necessary essentials like a microphone or loudspeaker).
Radio is a form of media that is often overlooked and undervalued among the general public, but after having deciphered just how the radio works, it really is something to be massively appreciated. While modern technological advances make radio seem like a thing of the past, understanding how a radio broadcasting system works really illustrates the complexities with what many deem to be an antiquated force of technology.