Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Enduring Car Radio

There must be a reason this primitive technology we call radio has hung around this long. Its theater of the mind, human voice coming at you untethered by visual information. Your companion while you navigate 75. On road trips to Austin or Houston we always tough out the static until human voice is beyond discernible. And on the ride home we sit on the channel until it comes back, giggling with excitement as soon as we can recognize a host's voice. But lets focus on the thing itself, the radio.

The radio is the one piece of technology in our cars that has remained relatively the same since it was introduced. The Galvin Brothers put a Motorola radio into a Model A in 1930 and this became the first commercially successful car radio. Since then, the car radio has remained relatively the same. An antennae, tuner, receiver and speaker, pieces of technology that have been around since the 1920's. Seat belts were not even in cars until Congress made them a requirement in 1959. Many gadgets in your car have evolved or been replaced. The manual window roller is obsolete, the cigarette lighter is rare and who the hell still sticks a key in the door to unlock it?

More and more people today take in their radio programs via satellite or internet. Interesting to think about the traditional radio transmitters that carry commercialized signals becoming obsolete, and people catching their tunage solely via the internet. But there is something special about being in the metroplex and being able to tune in to the KTCK torch. Hard to tell what will happen to the car radio, but for the foreseeable future it is sticking around.
Some early P1's tuning in.