Brown College Blog

The Future Of Car Radio

August 22, 2013 General 0 Comments

The Future Of Car RadioFor years, AM/FM radios have been considered standard equipment in cars. But as technology continues to develop, could we see the disappearance of the car radio in the near future?

Some say yes.

If you are interested in pursuing radio broadcasting, it is important for you to understand how developing technology can impact the future of broadcasting. Car radios are not just for entertainment. They are an essential resource for developing news and have been used to communicate important public safety issues – especially when the Internet is down. But can they be replaced?

Read about the technology that’s developed to replace radio and the challenges ahead – and decide for yourself:

Developing Technology

Radios have already begun to change – from early cassette players to cd players to today’s touchscreen interfaces. In the past few years, advanced alternatives to radio have entered our cars. Satellite radio options such as SiriusXM, Pandora and other services are now accessible to drivers.

Samantha Murphy of Mashable says that these developments have led to more choices available on the market than ever before. She says that “drivers and automakers are still trying to figure out which form of radio is best for the dashboard.”

New applications are constantly being developed. It may not be long before we see interfaces displaying app icons rather than radio stations. Murphy notes that “such apps bring more content directly to the car for more entertainment options while keeping drivers’ eyes away from their smartphones.” Installing application devices – rather than more traditional AM/FM radios – might lead to safer, hands-free driving.

Challenges Ahead

For Applications

But applications have their own problems. Manufacturers are unsure how they can factor apps into cars financially. For convenience, apps must be able to be downloaded or deleted quickly. This typically includes a charge, but Murphy notes that drivers “want services included in the price tag and not added later on.”

She cites BMW as an example. The car company will be adding 10 years of connected services to the price of its 2014 vehicle fleet. Their technology is adaptive – allowing older models to download newer applications. But with the speed at which technology adapts, this might not be enough.

Furthermore, drivers are used to having AM/FM radios. Without them, cars may not be as appealing. Any new in-car apps would have to look similar to radios.

For Radio

President and CEO of The Radio Agency Mark Lipsky reports that, in March of this year, three automotive industry representatives announced that they intended to eliminate AM/FM radios from the dashes of two car companies within the next two years. Within the next five years, they expected that radios would be completely eliminated from all vehicles.

They cited research done by MTV Scratch, noting that radios are no long necessary as “young people simply don’t use radio anymore and automakers see no need to continue installing radios in their cars.”

Will Radio Ever Disappear from Cars?

If young people see the radio as futile, it might lose its honored place on the dash. But Lipsky cited another study that countered the automakers’ findings.

A survey of almost 400,000 people, completed by Arbitron, reported that there has been an increase in AM/FM listenership in the past year. The age group making the largest gain? Teenagers – who reported 23 million listeners per week. The survey showed that radio listening remained popular among young adults ages 18 to 34.

With reports like this, it seems as though radio is not as futile as app developers and car manufacturers want us to believe. Whether or not AM and FM stations become obsolete, drivers are still going to want to access radio stations somehow. It might be through an application or some other technological development. Nevertheless, radio is not dead.

Learn more about Radio Broadcasting and the future of broadcasting at Brown College.


What do you think?