3 Times Radio Changed the World

Since its introduction, radio has fundamentally changed the way we as humans communicate with one another, and spurred the evolution of the technologies most important to us today.

Radio harnessed the power of audio as a medium; with the advantages of spoken language. Instead of having to read and interpret the emotions of the story teller, the listener could FEEL the speaker’s emotions.

With this, radio introduced an entirely different form of immersive storytelling capable of exciting, saddening, even angering its listeners.

Radio broke down barriers that newspapers couldn’t, enabling truly mass communication that the technology before could not provide.

Radio as a tool had wide reaching effects on the world. Here are 3 examples of when radio changed the world:


3 Times Radio Changed the World

1.FDR’s Fireside Chats:


In a series of 28 personal broadcasts ranging from 15 to 45 minutes, then President of the United States Franklin Delano Roosevelt communicated with the American people in a way that simply couldn’t have been done before radio. His “fireside chats” helped define his relationship with the American people. His confident sounding voice spoke common words, and genuine persona oozed through the speakers of 60 million Americans as he instilled confidence in the banking system after the Great Depression, and encouraged Americans to fight WWII on all fronts by explaining “what has been done in the last few days, why it was done, and what the next steps are going to be”.


It cannot misrepresent or misquote. It is far reaching and simultaneous in releasing messages given it for transmission to the nation or for international consumption.

— Stephen Early, FDR press secretary, on the value of radio[2]:154

It is whispered by some that only by abandoning our freedom, our ideals, our way of life, can we build our defenses adequately, can we match the strength of the aggressors. … I do not share these fears.

— FDR’s fireside chat of May 26, 1940

“The one thing I dread is that my talks should be so frequent as to lose their effectiveness. … Every time I talk over the air it means four or five days of long, overtime work in the preparation of what I say. Actually, I cannot afford to take this time away from more vital things. I think we must avoid too much personal leadership—my good friend Winston Churchill has suffered a little from this.”


2.Battle of Britain:


In 1934, the British War Ministry turned to inventor Robert Watson-Watt to shed some light on the possibility of a Nazi-developed Death Ray utilizing radio waves.

Watson-Watt dismissed this notion as ludicrous, then presented the War Ministry with a document entitled “The Detection of Aircraft By Radio Methods”. This document contained the development of Radio Detection And Ranging, or Radar.


Radar enabled the British Royal Air Force to locate and count the amount of Nazi aircraft approaching the British Isles during the nearly year long onslaught of bombings that took place from 1940 to 1941, referred to as the Battle of Britain and the Blitz.

Radio has been credited with saving Britain from invasion during the Second World War.

3.War of the Worlds:

On Sunday, October 30, 1938, a 23 year old actor and future filmmaker Orson Welles got on air to deliver what would mark a historic broadcast with wide-reaching effects.

Welles delivered an oral adaptation of H.G. Wells’ 1889 novel, The War of the Worlds, live on CBS broadcasting network. The presentation started with music and cut in a dramatized news-bulletin style format to announce an ongoing alien invasion. The realism and presentation of the program led many listeners to believe that the alien invasion was actually occurring, causing widespread panic.


The implications of The War of the Worlds broadcast were wide reaching. It resulted in a new skepticism about the truth of what you hear on the radio and the tightening of restrictions by the FCC.