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Radio or Radio is a medium for the dissemination of information and entertainment in the form of sounds, such as music and language. Originating at the beginning of the 20th century, it is the oldest of the electronic mass media .

Radio can be received with a traditional radio device as well as with other entertainment and consumer electronics devices such as stereo systems , portable media players , MP3 players or smartphones .

historical overview

Apart from test broadcasts in several countries around the world, the world's first regular radio operation started in the USA, with a news channel by Charles “Doc” Herrold in San José in 1909 and with a channel for mixed programs in Pittsburgh in 1916 by Frank Conrad .

There was a regular program operation in German-speaking countries first in Switzerland (airfield transmitter Lausanne and transmitter Bern), then in Germany ( Funk-Hour Berlin ), Austria ( Radio Hekaphon ) and Liechtenstein ( Radio Liechtenstein ).


In the beginning the medium was called radio or broadcast. To distinguish it from television , it was finally called radio or audio broadcasting. According to some sources from the 1920s, the term "radio" preceded that of broadcasting, but kept coming back into fashion:

“The word radio , which was first used for radio and is still partly used today, has officially been shelved. Radio is to be understood as any wireless activity, especially the one that the [radio] amateurs achieved in such a short time. [...] It was chosen by the International Congress for world traffic to indicate that this traffic includes the whole world, the whole globe. Since the broadcasting stations with their performances [...] have practically only a limited circle as listening area, the expression broadcasting is perhaps more suitable for this than radio. "

Organizational forms


In Germany, radio consists of radio programs and other offers:

In addition, radio can be received on long , medium and short wave as well as in the border area on ultra short wave from foreign broadcasting locations.

This classification makes it clear: due to the broadcasting sovereignty of the federal states, radio broadcasting in Germany takes place predominantly under state law. This affects both public broadcasters and private broadcasters.

The existence of Deutschlandradio is based on two treaties between the federal and state governments. As a corporation, Deutschlandradio also has elements of a broadcasting company such as director and administrative bodies. One is made up of representatives from the federal and state governments as well as from ARD and ZDF.

The broadcast of the GDR and the broadcasting in the Weimar Republic to the late 1920s were a state radio .


For some decades of the 20th century, the Austrian radio landscape was characterized by a monopoly of Radio Verkehrs AG (RAVAG) and Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF). It was not until the mid-1990s that private radio operators were approved. Since Austria was also temporarily occupied by Allied troops from 1945 onwards, broadcasters were set up, as in Germany, on behalf of the respective occupying powers. B. Red-White-Red .


The organization of the radio or broadcast was similar to that in the neighboring countries of France, Germany, Austria and Italy in the 20th century; as there, it was long characterized by the monopoly position, with regional diversity, but ultimately only from one provider, here it was the Swiss one Radio and television company or Société suisse de radiodiffusion et télévision . Although radio began in all of these countries, including Switzerland, through private initiatives, the service providers from the start were unable to establish themselves.

Production of radio broadcasts

In analog studios, as was common until the 1990s, a large amount of physical material was moved. Tapes and records had to be obtained from the archive and prepared. The recording manager and the sound technician were responsible for ensuring that the program ran smoothly, based on the broadcast schedule.

Since then, not only the program preparation but also the processing has been done almost exclusively by computer. The central instrument is the digital broadcast schedule, special software that contains all the program elements that are required during a broadcast. The broadcast schedule can be compared to a list that contains a large number of audio files that are located in various archives (program folders on various hard drives within the home network or intranets). Ideally, they can be called up and played from any PC within the transmitter. The digital broadcast schedule lists these components chronologically and can play them either fully automatically or with a click of the mouse. Music collections, jingles and various verbatim contributions are available as audio files on hard drives.

The broadcast schedule can be programmed fully automatically, partially automatically or entirely by hand. Pure music tracks are usually created automatically in compliance with special criteria. The editor gives z. For example, what type of music is to be played and, if necessary, specifies the “rotation”, which calculates after how many pieces a title can be repeated. The music tracks are provided with digital metadata (comparable to MP3 tags) that specify certain criteria such as music style, speed or target group. According to these criteria, the PC can generate the music program automatically. Of course, pieces of music can be inserted "by hand" at any time, which can be flexibly incorporated into the playlist. In this case, jingles and verbal contributions are automatically inserted into the program according to specified criteria.

The verbal contributions are roughly divided into moderation, jingles, commercials and other verbal contributions, for example correspondent reports or rubrics. In addition, there are the news and service items such as weather or traffic reports. Because of the topicality, news , moderation or service contributions are only created at short notice or even played live (e.g. from the news studio). For these contributions, so-called “placeholders” are built into the broadcast schedule, which do not refer to a specific file, but are later replaced (“updated”) by program components that have been made in the meantime (eg: “Article 1”) or live contributions.

The software can independently interrupt the current program at certain times and accept a special audio stream (e.g. news) or call up saved time announcements . Then the program returns to the music routine. This principle is often found in the night programs of smaller private broadcasters or in non-stop music loops. Many program elements are completely pre-produced and can be called up from the hard drive at any time (e.g. articles, features , magazine programs ).

It is now possible to insert entire programs as recordings into the current program ( voice tracking ). This method is often used by private broadcasters and is mostly used for reasons of cost (all announcements are produced in one piece and only mixed with the music later, although no moderator is present) and efficiency reasons ("clean", promise-free moderation). Broadcasting houses are hardly ever occupied, especially on weekends, thanks to pre-recorded shows that run automatically in the respective broadcasting systems.

To save time, some advertising-financed pop channels occasionally pitch pieces of music . The playback speed is slightly increased in order to accommodate more music tracks in one broadcast hour despite frequent commercial breaks, or to adapt the length of a piece of music to the tight time limits.

Live broadcasts sometimes get by without an exact broadcast schedule; instead, moderators and broadcast technicians ensure that the schedule is strictly adhered to. The feed of prepared contributions, the selection or preparation of the music tracks is almost always done on the PC. The live presenter enjoys a great deal of freedom in arranging prepared and (for example, in the case of desired programs) directly accessed music tracks.

Send processing

Similar to television, the control room of a radio transmitter is the center of the technical broadcasting and at the same time the hub of all incoming and outgoing audio signals. An audio signal is primarily understood to be the final signal that can be transmitted and is forwarded directly to the transmission systems, but also incoming contributions from correspondents, external studios, partner stations or broadcast vehicles. Smaller stations take over the news and various mantle programs (e.g. moderated night programs) often from external service providers, the feed mostly takes place via satellite, increasingly also online.


Many small radio stations in the commercial sector work closely together. They produce many contributions jointly or take over entire broadcasts from a joint supporting program. These radio syndicates , based on the American model, exist in Bavaria ( BLR ) and North Rhine-Westphalia ( Radio NRW ), among others . As an independent service provider, you produce news and verbal contributions, maintain your own network of correspondents and produce one or more general programs that are taken over by local and special interest channels at certain times. The financial participation in the syndicates mostly depends on the size of the station (market share and reach).

The ARD operates its highly efficient exchange of programs within their own technical network, the ARD-star . Data is exchanged via the HYBNET , an extremely broadband intranet to which all the ARD broadcasters are connected. The technical hub is the ARD broadcasting center in Frankfurt am Main.

Many radio stations use sound processors for signal processing . This z. B. optimally adapt the transmission signal to the specified VHF peak deviation of 75 kHz. The radio stations use compressors to influence the sound dynamics , some stations also use them to create typical "sound designs". Heavily compressed programs often sound "squashed" and unnatural.

Digital radio signals are generated from the analog audio signal using analog-to-digital converters (A / D converters) and compressed using one of the common MPEG processes. Before being broadcast via satellite and / or cable or DAB + / DVB-T , the individual signals are combined with other signals (television programs, other radio programs, data services) to form a uniform transport stream using so-called multiplexers . Most of the ARD programs and several private radio stations are fed directly via satellite.

Transmission routes

Radio is spread:

the radio is broadcast:

analog processes are soon to be replaced by digital processes (see analog "switch-off" ).

The spread of radio via AM broadcasting has already decreased significantly in Europe due to the discontinuation of broadcasting operations by many broadcasting stations.

Frequency ranges

Different frequency ranges and different technical specifications are used to distribute terrestrial radio broadcasts:

Broadcasting band Modulation type wavelength frequency
Long wave broadcasting (LW) Amplitude modulation (AM)

or COFDM at Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM)

2,000-1,000 m 150-300 kHz
Medium wave broadcasting (MW) Amplitude modulation (AM)

or COFDM at Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM)

600-150 m 500-2000 kHz
Short wave broadcasting (SW / KW) Amplitude modulation (AM)

or COFDM at Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM)

120-10 m 2.5–30 MHz (in some areas)
VHF radio (Volume II in VHF) Frequency modulation (FM) approx. 3 m 87.5-108 MHz
Volume III (in the VHF) COFDM in digital radio (DAB) approx. 2 m 174-230 MHz
L-band (in UHF) COFDM in digital radio (DAB) approx. 10 cm 1-2.6 GHz

Broadcasting stations in the long-wave and medium-wave range occupy a width of 9 kHz (on the American continent 10 kHz), that of the short-wave range a width of 10 kHz and that of the VHF range a width of 300 kHz.

In the short-wave range, radio transmissions are also carried out using the single sideband modulation method . To receive them, you need a receiver with a special demodulator. There is also AM-compatible SSB modulation. But it is not used.

For digital radio broadcasts, especially digital radio (DAB), among other things, frequency bands are used that were previously only used for television broadcasts. Digital radio is already being operated in many parts of the world (including Germany, Austria, Switzerland) in parallel with the existing FM broadcasts and is qualitatively superior to them. In Germany and Austria, DAB could not gain acceptance, so it was replaced by DAB + .

With Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) the frequency ranges of LW, KW and MW (which were previously operated with amplitude modulation) are used and with DRM only operated with a COFDM- modulated digital signal. Transmitters that were previously operated in analogue mode sometimes switch to digital modulation from DRM for certain hours of the day, which means that diverse programs can be received worldwide today. However, DRM is not specified or licensed for broadcast in the FM frequency range.

Program landscape

The radio program landscape in the German-speaking area (2018):

public law Private
area predecessor AC CHR youth DOM Culture word other 1. Provider 2. Provider 3. Provider
GermanyGermany nat. Dls. Dlf Nova Dlf culture Dlf ClassicR
Radio hour radioeins rbb 88.8 Fritz Ant.Bbg. rbbKultur Info radio Sorb.RF ;
104.6 RTL BR 91.4 BB radio
SNSN SN Mirag mdr jump mdr Sputnik mdr Sat. mdr culture ;
mdr current Sorb.RF ;
RC : PSR ; R.SA RTL Saxony Saxony radio package
STST ST mdr Sat.-An. RC : r.SAW ;
89.0 RTL ;
R. Brocken
THTH TH mdr Th. Ant.Th. ; r.top40 RC : Lw.Th.
HHHH HH Norag NDR2 N-Joy NDR 90.3 NDR culture NDR info NDR Blue ;
NDR Plus
R.HH Energy Hamburg alster r.
SHSH SH NDR1 WN RC : R.SH ; R.Bob ; delta r.
MVMV MV NDR1 MV Baltic wave RC : Ant.MV
NINI NI NDR1 Nds. r.ffn RTL : Ant.Nds. R.21
HBHB HB Brake four Brem.Next Brem.Two Cosmo ffn : Energy Bremen ; R. Roland
NWNW NW Wefag WDR2 1Live WDR4 WDR3 WDR5 Cosmo ;
HEHE HE Süwrag hr1 hr3 You FM hr4 hr2 culture hr-iNFO FFH ; planet r. ; RC : R.Bob RG : Ant.F
RPRP RP SWR1 RP SWR3 The thing SWR4 RP SWR2 SWR news RPR1 bigFM RG : Ant.KO u. a.
BWBW BW Surag SWR1 BW SWR4 BW R. Rainbow (MA); Ant.1 (S); R.7 (UL) bigFM Energy Stuttgart
SLSL SL RS Saarbr. SR1Ew Our thing SR3Sw SR2Kr Ant.Saar R.Salü bigFM RG : R.SB u. a.
BYBY BY DeStiB Bay.3 Pulse Bay.1 BR-Classic ;
 Bay.2 ; B5 currently ;
BR home
Ant.Bay. BLR
AustriaAustria AT Ravag Ö3 FM4 Ö2 Austrian 1 Mp : KroneHit Radio Austria
SwitzerlandSwitzerland CH LS Berom. SRF3 SRF Virus SRF1 SRF2 culture SRF4 News Music wave ; SSR Energy Zurich FM1 Radio 24
LiechtensteinLiechtenstein LI Lirag RL ( FM1 )
South-TirolSouth-Tirol BZ Rai South Tyrol (full program) Ath. : South Tyrol1
Liege ProvinceLiege Province LG BRF1 BRF2 100'5 RTL Group : R.Contact
NamibiaNamibia N / A NBC Fkhs.Nam. (Full prog.) HitR Namibia

Radio use


On average, more than 54 million people (aged 14 and over) listen to the radio every day in Germany. In the years 2000-2010, radio usage remained stable. However, radio use among 14 to 29 year olds fell from 79 to 71.5% in the same period. Although the Internet has greatly expanded the possibilities of using the radio, the majority of listeners still receive programs conventionally, via a stationary receiver or in the car. Only 15% of the younger generation listen to the radio program via internet radio on the computer.

Nevertheless, mp3 players do not seem to displace radio so far. Radio usage has remained constant at a high level despite the competing new media. The reasons given include the adaptation of the broadcasters to the online medium by broadcasting the programs on the Internet and parallel recipient use of the radio and the new media.

There are no clear findings on the question of what journalistic effect radio broadcasts have and what influence it has on the formation of public opinion. In a study published in 2010 by the Bavarian State Center for New Media, radio contributes only 15% to opinion-forming. However, critics accuse the study of methodological deficiencies. It would not take into account the peculiarities of radio reception.

When the radio started on October 29th there were still no listeners. The first announcement was made that “entertainment broadcasting begins with the distribution of music broadcasts by wireless telephony.” At the end of 1923 there were 467 paying listeners in Berlin, on January 1, 1925 it was 500,000 and by the end of 1925 the million mark had been reached . In 1924 transmitters were set up in Leipzig, Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Breslau, Königsberg and Münster, each with their own programs. The first central transmitter in the German Reich was Deutsche Welle from 1926. The radio was given a public service character with the umbrella organization RRG, Reichs-Rundfunk-Gesellschaft.

Special features of the medium

Example of directorial work in a radio studio: two sentences in two "moods"

In the past, radio was primarily considered to be the fastest medium, but it has partly given this unique selling point to the Internet. A qualitative audience survey conducted by RBB media research shows that listeners have a strong emotional bond with the radio. “It should emotionalise, manage the moods during the day. In the morning, you expect the radio to wake you up, stimulate you, and put you in a positive mood for the day. It should minimize stress during the day and relieve and harmonize emotionally in the evening. The young people describe the radio as a 'feel-good space', as a world 'that also creates daydreams', as a medium 'that pulls me through the day well' ".

The radio is still the primary gateway and discovery space for new music. Young people in particular are considered to be a medium that leaves room for spontaneity and provocation: “It can give space to feelings of rebellion and challenge, right through to consciously implemented actions. In a comparison of the media, the leeway within the bracket of 'Political Correctness' is greatest for radio. It can set political issues and even irritating topics more freely and courageously and debates accordingly. ”One of the strengths of radio is its ability to surprise its audience with topics and arouse their curiosity. As a “sideline medium” it offers the possibility of “being confronted with topics that one would never take the time to deal with while reading a newspaper”.

See also

Portal: Radio  - Overview of Wikipedia content on radio


Web links

Wiktionary: Radio  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Radio  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Heinrich Kluth-Nauen: Radio for everyone . Peter J. Oestergaard, Berlin 1925 (signature Os3228 in the Berlin State Library).
  2. ^ Inga Hoff: National radio, but how? In: broadcasting after the turning point . Diplomica, Hamburg, 2011, ISBN 978-3-842-85802-2 , p. 43 ff.
  3. for Germany: List (October 2017) according to § 11c Abs. 4 RStV
  4. agma (Germany): Media Analysis ( Memento from March 25, 2018 in the Internet Archive ); RMS Austria : sending card ; media pulse (Switzerland): Semester numbers ( Memento of 25 March 2018 Internet Archive )
  5. ^ Annette Mende: The radio in the digital world. Results of the ARD / ZDF online study 2010 ( Memento from January 26, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 198 kB)
  6. Johannes Boie: The i-pod and the consequences. Why the radio is far from dead. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung , April 26, 2010.
  7. Bernd Zipper: Will the radio die out? In: Beyondprint. March 11, 2010, accessed November 20, 2018 .
  8. Study by the BLM on the influence of the media on opinion formation .
  9. ^ Gábor Paál: The radio, an unjustifiably underestimated medium . epd-medien , April 29, 17, 2010; online under the title Apples + Pears = Power of Opinion? In: Wissenschaft und Medien , March 20, 2010. Accessed November 20, 2018.
  10. By wireless telephony . In: VDI nachrichten , November 2, 2018, No. 44, p. 3
  11. ^ Annette Mende: The radio in the digital world. Results of the ARD / ZDF online study 2010, p. 375. (PDF; 198 kB)
  12. ibid., P. 375.
  13. Paal, ibid., P. 7 .; online version
  14. Website for the book Radio-Journalismus with further information