50 Interesting Facts About Radio

Last updated on July 28th, 2021

Radio continues to have an impressive audience despite the competition from all fronts. In America, according to Nielsen, over two hundred and seventy two million people (6+) listen to the radio every week. Therefore, it remains to be the top reach medium that touches more individuals than any other device. Moreover, the discovery of radio waves was among the most significant findings in communication. Without radio waves, there would have been a different technique to transmit radio broadcasts, cell phone service, television broadcasts, and wireless internet access. Find below more exciting 50 facts about radio.

1. Clerk Maxwell was the first to foresee that radio waves existed. His theory is known as Maxwell’s equations, and it described light and radio waves as electromagnetic waves traveling through space. Other types of electromagnetic waves include Bluetooth, radar, x-rays, infrared, ultraviolet, and microwaves.

2. Heinrich Hertz demonstrated radio waves in his lab in 1887. The unit of frequency of a radio wave — one cycle per second — is named the hertz, in honor of Heinrich Hertz. Radio is broadcasted in different frequencies, including the FM radio waves that range between 88 MHz and 108 MHz (FM stands for frequency modulation, which produces a wave of constant amplitude but varying frequency.) AM radio waves posted between 550 kHz and 1600 kHz.

Electromagnetic Spectrum for radio facts, the fact file
Electromagnetic Spectrum: The electromagnetic spectrum, showing the major categories of electromagnetic waves. The range of frequencies and wavelengths is remarkable. The dividing line between some categories is distinct, whereas other categories overlap. Microwaves encompass the high frequency portion of the radio section of the EM spectrum. Image credit – lumenlearning.com

3. The most powerful radio station ever was WLW (station licensed to Cincinnati, Ohio.) which broadcasted at 700KHz, and at some point, in the 1930s, the radio wave was 500Kw radiated power. Those in the vicinity of the transmitter could hear the audio in their pans, pots, and mattresses.

4. Guglielmo Marconi was able to send and receive his first radio signal in Italy in 1895, and in 1899 he sent a wireless signal transversely to the English Channel. In 1902 he received a letter ‘S’ telegraphed from England marking the first transatlantic radiotelegraph message.

5. In 1900, the Canadian inventor Reginald Fessenden managed to transmit the world’s first voice message. In 1906, on Christmas eve, he made the radio broadcast.

6. In the 1980s, people were able to download video games from a radio broadcast. They would record the sounds onto a cassette tape, and then they could play later on their computers.

7. A thirteen-year-old called out the Eastern State Penitentiary for having the wrong radio on display during Al Capone’s cell recreation. There was no radio until 1942, and Capone was imprisoned between 1929 and 1930, thus resulting in the museum replacing it and giving the teen inaccurate radio.

Eiffel Tower. facts about radio
Eiffel Tower. Image credit – Pedro Szekely

8. The first public radio broadcasts were done on top of the Eiffel tower by radio scientists. Lee de Forest, together with his peers, is viewed as the father of radio broadcasting. Being an opportunist, he took a break on his honeymoon in 1908 and climbed France’s most famous landmark. He broadcasted a selection of music to the Parisian suburbs and became the first radio DJ.

9. The Eiffel Tower was meant to be brought down after twenty years. However, it survived because the military began to use it as a radio tower to intercept crucial military transmissions during World War I.

10. UVB-76 is a secretive Russian radio signal that has been continuously transmitting since 1982. Although no one knows who makes the signal, it is located near Moscow and makes a buzzing sound twenty-five times a minute. The station was originally identified as UVB-76 and then MDZhB but is commonly known as The Buzzer.

11. The 1946 radio show ‘Adventure of Superman’ revealed the secret rituals and codes of the KKK, making it a laughing stock. As a result, the Klan recruitment was dried up almost overnight.

Call on hold music
Facts about radio. 

12. The first incident of telephone hold music was a mistake caused by a loose wire touching a metal girder at a factory. It turned the entire building into a mega radio antenna that would play the music from a next-door radio station when people were on hold.

13. The radio stations located on the East of River Mississippi use ‘W’ as the first letter in the call signs, and those to the West use ‘K’ for their call signs. An example of an East radio station call sign is WIHB.

14. A considerable number of birds are killed by radio antennas each year. However, if the static red light is changed to a blinking light, it can reduce the death toll by up to seventy percent. In the United States, the US Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that between 4 and 50 million birds are killed each year by tower kill.

Б-396 Tango class submarine
Б-396 Tango class submarine. Interesting facts about radio. Image credit – Andrey Korchagin

15. In World War II, they censored weather reports to avert the enemy submarines from knowing the conditions. At that time, a football match in Chicago was covered in fog, but the radio announcer never used the name ‘fog’ or mentioned the weather.

16. David Sarnoff, who is the founder of RCA (Radio Corporation of America), fought very hard to avert FM radio from succeeding. Eventually, Edwin Howard Armstrong, the inventor of the FM radio, committed suicide due to emotional and financial distress that he suffered from RCA lawsuits.

17. It is believed that radio waves will continue to travel forever unless something absorbs them. If that is the case, and if there are more life forms in other parts of the universe, then other planets may have heard the radio waves.

18. In 1932, experts revealed that astronomical objects emit radio waves. A system has been established that makes it possible to produce pictures from radio waves. Thus, astronomers are using radio telescopes to study radio waves emitted from specks of dust, planets, gas clouds, stars, comets, and other galaxies.

Radio Towers
Radio towers. Interesting facts about radio. Image credit – Alex Kahn

19. A text message sent from a cell phone to another phone is a radio wave. The text leaves the sender’s phone and is sent to a tower that transmits the lock to the message’s recipient. They are all unique radio waves being sent, enabling them to reach the right person.

20. When the cowboy and actor Slim Pickens joined the military during World War II, he stated that his profession was ‘rodeo.’ The recruiter heard ‘radio.’ Slim spent his entire wartime as a radio operator.

21. An obsessed fan of Muppet once took a radio manager hostage claiming that he had a bomb. He demanded that the rainbow connection song be played nonstop for the next twelve hours on the radio.

22. Shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, all radio stations received a memo with a list of songs that they viewed to be lyrically inappropriate. The list contained one hundred and sixty-five suggested songs, with one of them reading ‘Every Rage Against Machine Song.’

23. Colombia’s armed forces commissioned a pop song with a Morse code message to the kidnapped military personnel stating, ‘nineteen people rescued, you are next, do not lose hope. The kidnappers used to let their captives listen to the radio.

24. In 2005, a radio sampled 3,500 music fans to make the ‘rock’s ultimate supergroup.’ Then they were to choose the best musician of all time for every musical instrument. They ended up forming Led Zeppelin.

RMS Titanic departing Southampton on April 10, 1912. facts about radio.
RMS Titanic departing Southampton on April 10, 1912. Interesting facts about radio. Image credit – Wikipedia.org

25. The sinking of the Titanic in 1912 mandated the use of radio at sea. The telegraph on the titanic was among robust systems globally and was being operated by the Marconi company. During the sinking, they used the radio to reach out to the nearby ship to rescue passengers.

26. On 28/09/2006, the city council of Reykjavik and its neighboring municipalities agreed to switch off the city lights in the capital region for half an hour to allow a renowned astronomer to talk about the stars and constellations on national radio.

27. The first time for Japanese people to hear the emperor’s voice on the radio was when he announced that Japan has surrendered in World War II.

28. In 1978, a radio station mistakenly played Atlanta Rhythm Section’s song ‘Imaginary Lover’ at the wrong RPM, making it sound like Stevie Nicks. When Stevie heard about it, she played the record at an increased speed for bandmates, and they believed it was her singing.

29. In 2007, Rockstar Games allowed fans to call a number to rage about what they feel was wrong with America. Then, they featured the best of them all on radio station WKTT in GTA IV.

30. One of the techniques of radio technology is to place electrodes in the ground various miles apart and use the earth’s core as the giant antenna to transmit radio signals to waterlogged submarines.

Ferrite Bead
A ferrite bead at the end of a Mini USB cable. Interesting facts about radio. Image credit – Wikipedia.org

31. The tiny plastic object at the end of the data cables is known as Ferrite Bead. It is used to block any interference from radio signals and other electronics.

32. People who believe they are suffering from Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity have relocated to about thirteen thousand square miles radio quiet zone. In this area, wireless is prohibited to prevent interference with radio telescopes.

33. France banned mentions of Facebook and Twitter on radio and Tv, that is, ‘like us on Facebook or ‘follow us on Twitter since they viewed it as a promotion and unfair to other sites.

34. The creator of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, Douglas Adams, wanted Slartibartfast’s name to sound so uncouth. He was initially referred to as ‘Phartiphukborlz,’ which changed gradually until the BBC accepted it for radio broadcast.

35. We shall be accessible by Garth Brook in 1993 was boycotted by various country radio stations since it had the line ‘when we are free to love anybody we choose.’

36. Pirate radio is still at large. Caroline FM, the UK’s biggest pirate station of its era, was vital in championing sounds beyond the mainstream, the reason why it was anchored on a boat. Thanks to the rebels of the mid-1960s for ambition, diversity, and panache that is across digital radio today.

37. In the early 1990s, Antony and DJs Opie promoted a giveaway of a hundred grand over several weeks on their radio program in Boston. When the winner was at last chosen, they revealed that the grand prize was a 100 luxurious candy bar instead of $100,000.

38. The top played song on US radio in the 2000s decade was ‘How you remind me’ by Nickelback. The radio played the music over 1.2 million times.

39. One of the checks that British nuclear submarines use to determine whether the government is still functioning is to check whether BBC Radio 4 is broadcasting.

Vintage radio from 1982. Radio fact file
Vintage Sanyo AM-FM Stereo Portable Radio With Cassette Recorder & Two Shortwave Bands, Model M9935K, Made In Japan, Circa 1982. Interesting facts about radio. Image credit – Joe Haupt

40. When a radio wave is received in radio, the tuner helps it pick up a specific radio station. As such, it makes it possible to listen to one particular radio wave and tune out others, enabling one to listen to one station at a time.

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