how radio works

Understanding How Radio Works

Radio has been around since the late 19th century and is still thriving today. Radio broadcasting is no longer as popular as it once was. Smart technology has gradually infiltrated the radio sphere and left some questioning whether we need radio today. However, the radio has an undeniable charm, and many people still adore the broadcast style.

These days, radio broadcasts are played on smartphones, laptops and digital personal assistants, like Alexa. Radio has transformed over the last decade and embraced the new ear of smart technology.

What is a radio?

At its most basic, radio is a box filled with electrical components. These components catch radio waves and convert them into sounds you can hear. If you remove the physical box of a radio, it is the transmission and reception of electromagnetic waves. In a more general sense, radio also refers to the radio broadcasting industry. The radio industry is still going strong, and there are numerous popular shows today.

The two types of radio

There are two main types of radio: analogue and digital. AM radio uses amplitude modulation and makes the peaks of the carrier wave bigger and smaller. As your voice changes, the frequency of the wave changes. However, analogue radios also pick up background noise and produce poor sound quality.

FM radio uses frequency modulation – and adds a radio program to the carrier wave whereby the program signal causes fluctuations in the wave’s frequency. Digital radios are sent out as a transmission on a specific frequency.

Each station has an individual frequency, so there is no overlap or interference. You can achieve a much clearer signal with a digital radio because there is no background noise. You can also increase your coverage and correct errors in weaker transmissions. Most radios are digital these days, so there is far more to choose from.

How does a radio work?

Radios transmit and receive these electromagnetic waves. The radio signal moves back and form very quickly, and the transmitter radiates this outward through the antenna. A receiver picks up the wave and begins to translate it into sound. Diodes are electrical components that conduct energy in one direction. Semiconductor diodes isolate signals and read the signals within the wave. We can then listen to the sound and understand what it says.

Radios transmit electrical energy from one place to another without using a wired connection. Your grandparents may refer to the radio as the ‘wireless.’ Radios were one of the first wireless devices and were pretty revolutionary back in their day.

The next time you listen to the radio, think about the wealth of history behind the broadcast. Radio is a fantastic technology that should be cherished for years to come.

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