Riding and learning on the radio waves

Taijrani Rampersaud

Guglielmo-Marconi Introduction
“It leaps around the world on short waves linking the continents in a fraction of a second… It brings the world to those who cannot read and helps maintain a contact for those who cannot see.” These words by Robert McLeish (2005) provide a wonderful synopsis about this phenomenon referred to as ‘radio’. Without a specific definition, we already know what it is capable of – the latent power that radio possesses.

However, what really is radio? How would one describe radio? A textbook definition would highlight the fact that radio is a piece of equipment that can create, change, transmit, and receive audio signals. This definition specifically categorizes radio as a technology while other explanations build on this base and refer to radio as a medium of mass communication used for broadcasting information. If one can go a step further, radio is also seen as a tool for social change that can help empower disenfranchised societies around the world.

Thus, radio encompasses many things and this is why I have a fondness for it; the possibilities are limitless and there is much room for my creativity to flow when using radio whether as a producer or a member of the audience. To me, radio is a teacher, a companion, a way to see the world and paint pictures with my imagination.

History and development
Now that we have an understanding of what radio is and can do, a bit of background information will help us comprehend this medium. There is some disagreement among historians about when radio really began and who should be credited with its development. However, there is consensus that the first developments in radio technology occurred from around the late 1700s to late 1800s when the telegraph and telephone were developed. By 1895 Jagadish Chandra Bose demonstrated the first public use of electromagnetic waves – the base of radio broadcasting. Two years later, Gugliemo Marconi built on Bose’s knowledge and conducted the first successful wireless signal transfer in England, across short distances. In 1899, Marconi was able to transmit signals over the English Channel and in 1901 the signals were transmitted across the Atlantic Ocean.

The author is currently pursuing her PhD in Communication at the University of Hyderabad. She has six years of experience as a teacher, at both secondary school and university levels, and has a background in audio and video productions. She can be reached at t.rampersaud@gmail.com.

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