How are Radio and Television Still a Thing?

Over the past several decades, new technology has always replaced its predecessor. Video streaming replaced DVDs, which replaced VHS; digital audio files and streaming replaced CDs, which replaced cassettes and vinyl; iPods replaced the Walkman; cell phones replaced land lines; smartphones replaced dumb phones; and online news is in the process of replacing newspapers. Yet, through all these advancements and the obsolescence of many old technologies, radio and television have survived. Radio has been with us for nearly 100 years, and television debuted almost 80 years ago. Why are these tech dinosaurs still here?


Radio’s continued existence is easy to explain because it has the same allure it’s had since the 1930s—it’s portable. Plus, it was easy for digital platforms to incorporate radio early in internet history. The payoff for radio has been that internet broadcasting has given even small radio stations the potential for gaining a huge audience at almost no additional cost, and individuals can start their own internet radio stations for free, something that would have been impossible using over-the-air transmission methods.


Unlike radio, which was passively adopted by a new technology, television has always been the one doing the adopting, and has survived by constantly evolving. What started as an over-the-air analog signal, became digital with cable or satellite delivery, which became high-definition, and today is both multiplatform and a crucial component in multiplatform storytelling.

In the early days of the internet, as the challenge to television—the broadcast medium—increased, the manufacturers of televisions—the durable goods—also upped their game by developing bigger, flatter, cheaper, higher-definition screens, creating a viewing experience impossible to have on a tablet, phone, or computer.

Future Relevance

Since 2007, Apple has pointed the direction in which television continues to move: the merging of internet services, video on demand, and traditional television. Devices like Apple TV use a television screen to view photos, play games, mirror an iPhone or iPad, and access one’s music library, all on a big screen. Additionally, users can stream live and on-demand content through the use of apps from most cable and network media companies.

Because television has embraced technology, continually updated its business model to include new formats, and is one of the only platforms which can provide a shared, group experience, Adweek says TV is still “the most effective advertising medium.”

Television’s ability to understand, adapt, adopt, and utilize technology is a good example for every business to keep in mind when faced with adaptability challenges and change.

If you’re unsure how your company can best navigate the rapidly changing world of advertising across multiple platforms, let the professionals at McFadden/Gavender be your guide. We have experts knowledgeable in every area of media and marketing, ready to take you where you want to go.