Q:

What is the impact of radio on society?

A:

The introduction of radio to the average household allowed many in the world to experience historical and performance events in live time together, thereby raising the standard for what constituted instant news as well as entertainment. It drew the country together for moments of national importance, including presidential addresses. Radio allowed people to stay home more often while feeling connected to the larger world.

When a radio play based on H.G. Wells' "The War of the Worlds" was broadcast on Oct. 30, 1938, the public panicked, believing the chaos and carnage depicted over the airwaves were real. The play mimicked the format of live newscasts, which spurred unrest among listeners. Media historians point to the event as the first major example of the power of the radio medium.

Radio drove American youth culture by broadcasting the latest hits. Many credit radio for making rock and roll as popular as it was in the 1950s. Talk radio began uniting Americans of various political persuasions in the 1980s. This was the era in which on-air personalities such as Rush Limbaugh began gaining listeners at a rapid pace. Despite the rise of television, and later the Internet, radio continues to occupy a place in modern media, particularly among those commuting in their vehicles on a regular basis.


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