Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Radio has been the preferred mass medium of communication in Africa and other parts of the world. For a long time to come, radio will remain to be the favoured mass medium of communication. In the age of an abundance of media it might come as a surprise to some that he oldest means of mass broadcasting – radio – is not only holding its own but managing to increase its audience (Fleming, 2002, p.5). Radio is endlessly adaptable. Even though there are challenges from other media, radio continue to be popular because of its ability to adapt to changes including technological advance and changes in the world. Stephen Bernard (2002) notes, “radio’s ability to survive in a competitive media environment has always depended on how well broadcasters tap into social, cultural and technological changes” (p.17). It is a fact that improvement in technology has made radio broadcasting simpler. This is to say that, getting items to air using digital technology is quicker than the old analogue system and the sound quality is better, but the advancement in the quest for technology cannot question the transiency of radio. Radio is transient and no matter the age within which we find ourselves, radio’s messages are fleeting.

Mass media, including radio performs the basic function of educating, informing and entertaining. Radio has its form and nature and that its characteristics. Among the characteristics of radio are radio has speed and it is simple, radio makes pictures, radio is person-to-person, radio is cheap, radio is transient or a one chance medium, radio is selective, radio lack space and radio has music. Some people think that due to the coming on of technology the transient character of radio is no more, but that is not true. In the midst of technology the transiency of radio cannot be questioned.

Radio is the process of sending and receiving messages by electromagnetic waves, a transmitter or a receiver is used for his sound broadcasting. According to Ul Hassan (2010), radio is a technology that transmits data to a remote point where a receiver detects that signal with the use of wire. Radio comes through the process of radiation. Radio broadcasting is a wireless transmission over radio waves intended to reach a wide audience. Audio broadcasting can be done through cable radio, local wire television networks, satellite radio and internet radio through streaming media on the internet which is supported by technology. Technology is the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes. It is also seen as the application of science to meet an objective or solve a problem. Technology has affected every aspect of life including radio but cannot stop the transiency of radio.

The transiency of radio is the fact radio messages are “irredeemable”. This is to say that, they are “irrepeatable” in the sense that once transmitted, the message is gone, unless otherwise, a repeat broadcast is scheduled. Even then, the message is so quickly changing fast that the listener is unable to re-play the message the same time it is broadcast. Radio is said to be a one chance medium. The listener has only one chance to listen and understand and technology has not changed it in any way. On radio, what is being said does not exist any longer unless you record it and even that when it is being played again, it is fleeting because it is passing quickly and if you miss something and you want to go back, to have to go through the problem of stopping it, rewinding it and playing it again. Advancement in and the quest for technology, has not touch the transient nature of radio. The words on radio have a momentary life. After it is spoken, it disappears unlike newspaper or printed books that you can always refer to.

Technology has brought a lot of changes to radio but it cannot question the transient nature of radio. Radio is still transient and the messages are fleeting. Technology, without a doubt has brought so many good things to radio and even made working on radio easy. Technologies such as, multi-track and digital recording enhances this aural medium potential (Hilliard, 2008). There are some computer programmes like Podcast, Hulkshare, Sound Cloud, YouTube, just to mention a few of them, that are used to record radio programmes and played back later. For example, a podcast is a type of digital media of an episodic series of audio radio, video, PDF or ePud files subscribed to and downloaded through the web syndication or stream online to a computer device. Some radio stations and presenters rely on these technologies to record their programmes and put them on their websites or on social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Flicker, and so on, to be played later. It is believed that for instance if you miss the live show, you have a chance of listening to it again so its takes away radios transiency but I personally do not think so. Even when you log on which ever network and you decide to play the programme back, the messages are still fleeting and they pass quickly and go and you will only have to rewind it to get the part you did not get well. British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and some other big media houses do podcasting to cater for people who missed the shows live but it does not question the transient nature of radio.

Kojo Ampofo who is popularly known as DJ Black on Joy fm records all his on air programmes and podcast them to be listened to later but if one goes to the podcast plays it, it is still fleeting just like live radio. The only thing here is that you can pause it, stop it, rewind it, play it but does not change the fact that radio is transient.

I would want to emphasis that, with the coming of technology which has brought a lot of blessing than curses to radio, radio remain to be a transient medium.


Bernard, S. (2000). Studying Radio. London : Arnold
Fleming, C. (2002). The Radio Handbook. London and New Year : Routledge Taylor and Francis Group.
Hilliard, R.L. (2008). Writing for Television, Radio New Media. USA : Thomson Wadsworth Boston.

Ul Hassan, T.A. (2011).  Brief History of Radio