Radio is widely used mass communication medium and has a great potentiality in dissemination of information as radio signals cover almost entire population. More than 177 radio stations are there across the country. About 97 percent of the population is reached by the radio.
Radio being a convenient form of entertainment caters to a large audience. With the advent of transistors this medium hrs reached the common man in urban and rural areas of India, though the utilization of radio is more among rural elites.
It has advantages over the other mass media like television and newspapers in terms of being handy, portable, easily accessible and cheap. It is the most portable of the broadcast media, being accessible at home, in the office, in the car, on the street or beach, virtually everywhere at any time.
Radio is effective not only in informing the people but also in creating awareness regarding many social issues and need for social reformation, developing interest and initiating action.
For example, in creating awareness regarding new policies, developmental projects and programs, new ideas etc. It can help in creating a positive climate for growth and development.
It widens the horizons of the people and enlightens them, thereby gradually changing their outlook towards life. Research has shown that radio is an effective medium for education when it is followed up with group discussion and question- answer session.
In India, radio with its penetration to the rural areas is becoming a powerful medium for advertisers. It gets 3 percent of the national advertising budget. Radio is still the cheap alternative to television, but is no longer the poor medium in advertising terms.
Because radio listening is so widespread, it has prospered as an advertising medium for reaching local audiences. Moreover, radio serves small highly targeted audiences, which makes it an excellent advertising medium for many kinds of specialized products and services.
As far as commercials are concerned, no one is able to tune out commercials easily as is possible with remote control devices and VCRs. It is thought that radio’s ability to attract local advertisers hurts mainly newspapers, since television is less attractive to the small, local advertiser.
As far as audience is concerned radio does not hamper persons mobility. As a vehicle of information for masses it is still the fastest. For instance, it would take less time for a news reporter for radio to arrive on the spot with a microphone and recorder than the same for TV along with a shooting team and equipment.
Another important feature of radio as mass medium is that it caters to a large rural population which has no access to TV and where there is no power supply. In such places, All India Radio’s programmes continue to be the only source of information and entertainment. Moreover, AIR broadcasts programmes in 24 languages and 140 dialects.
“Radio should be treated akin to newspapers in view of the fact that it is local, inexpensive, linked to communities, has limited band width and operates through simple technology”.
The economics of radio does allow tailoring programme content to the needs of small and diverse audiences. Thus it is economically viable to recast a programme for broadcast to audiences in different sub regional, cultural and linguistic context.
This enhances the value of radio as a medium in networking developmental programmes. Thus, it offers many possibilities in networking, from locally or regionally co-ordinated broadcasts and interactive exchange of queries and data.
It can serve as a standalone medium of information dissemination or a support medium for curricular learning, jointly with print material or with fieldwork.
Kapoor, Director general of AIR (1995) said, ” Radio is far more interactive and stimulating medium than TV where the viewer is spoon-fed. Radio allows you to think, to use your imagination. That is why nobodyever called it the idiot box”.