When KDKA in Pittsburgh broadcast the first radio program 92 years ago this month, few people referred to the fledgling medium as "radio." The popular term was "wireless" as captured in a song of the time, "There's A Wireless Station Down In My Heart." Today of course, wireless refers to cellphones, modems, Bluetooth, routers and a collection of other high-tech devices. But no one refers to AM/FM radio as wireless anymore.
In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy we are reminded that the old wireless is still the most reliable wireless. During the storm, more than 8.1 million households lost electricity. As a consequence the new wireless failed. The FCC estimates 1 out of 4 cell towers stopped operating as a result of Sandy. Those affected by the storm who were lucky enough to retain cell service, had their cell batteries die within hours as did tablet and laptop batteries. With no electricity, there was no way to recharge.
Old wireless requires a couple of long lasting and ubiquitous Evereadies or Duracells. New wireless requires lithium phosphohexaflouride or nickel dihydroxide batteries that are wicked expensive and hold charges for short periods. So when the Federal Emergency Management Agency published a list of emergency items every home should have, radio, the old wireless, was number 3 on the list (just behind food and water).
All of this serves to remind us that despite the coolness that the new wireless exudes, it still has not achieved the omnipresence of the old wireless. Here are the facts:
- Radio reaches 93% of all Americans each week but...
- Only 45% use smartphones
- Only 70% have broadband internet at home
- Only 61% have a digital media device such as an iPad
In our recent article, Radio Advertising: Five Thing You Know That Ain't So, we pointed out that despite the inundation of new wireless in our lives, Americans spend just as much time with radio (the old wireless) as we did in 2002 in the days before iPhones, iPads, Kindles, and Bluetooth.
Far from being a Luddite, I am an ardent and proficient user of the new technology despite the fact I have passed through the 25-54 advertising demo. The truth is that even the tech generation, 18-34 year olds, spend more time each day with radio than with the internet. Moreover, according to the article Radio Advertising: 15 Vital Signs, 85% more 18-34 year olds use radio during a typical day than Facebook. Proof again that the old wireless remains an engaging part for Americans of all ages.
At the time we posted this article, millions of Americans still need help recovering from the devastation of Superstorm Sandy. Unfortunately, these people need more than just radio to begin rebuilding their lives. If you can, would you please donate to the disaster relief efforts of The American Red Cross. To donate online click here. Or you can donate $10 instantly by texting the word REDCROSS to 90999. ________________________________________________________________________