Though it is the oldest of the modern mass communications media, radio remains effective at connecting with political audiences in many countries; in some areas, radio may be the only broadcast outlet available. Reaching anyone in range with a receiver, radio is useful for broadcasting news, speeches, persuasive messaging, Get Out the Vote messages and much more. And despite its age, radio is now in the process of a technological transformation.
Many mobile phones contain FM receivers, extending radio’s reach into people’s pockets wherever they are. Plus, many radio stations stream their content online, allowing people to follow them from around the world — potentially very useful for political parties in countries with a politically engaged diaspora.
New technologies combine radio with digital and cellular communication channels in other innovative ways. The application Freedom Fone lets people communicate between cell phones by sharing messages through Interactive Voice Response (IVR), voicemail and SMS. For example, political parties could use Freedom Fone to record and upload policy information, allowing supporters to call the IVR system and listen to the audio files. The U.S. Broadcast Board of Governors (the parent of Voice of America and many other radio channels) posts audio and video clips online via its BBGDirect program, where any broadcaster can download and use them in its own programming. Far from killing radio, online technologies have given it new life, new reach and (potentially) new voices.