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Gallery 88

Radio's Golden Age:  Then and Now

The exhibit is open Monday through Friday from 9am to 4pm through October 31.

You're invited to WUWF's exhibit of vintage radios, many of which were manufactured between 1930 and 1950 – the “golden age” of radio. Over the nearly seven decades that have passed since then, the demise of radio has been predicted many times as competing media platforms have evolved. 

Roland Phillips, exhibit curator

Radio’s first challenge was television, entering its own “golden age” in the 1950s.  Many said that radio could not successfully compete with television.  The 1960s brought the audio cassette recorder and it was said that the ability for people to make their own recordings would put an end to both the music industry and radio. It didn’t happen.

Sony introduced the Walkman in 1979.  MTV hit the airwaves in the early 80s. Apple released the first iPod in 2001.  Streaming on-demand music platforms grew like mushrooms in the early 2000s, followed by XM and Sirius satellite radio. Services like Rhapsody, Napster, Pandora and iTunes created new competition to terrestrial radio. Once again media observers incorrectly predicted the demise of radio.

As new areas of competition for audio-based media continue to emerge, radio remains number one. According to the most recent Nielsen audience data, radio continues to reach more Americans each week than any other platform:

  • Radio reaches 93% of adults on a weekly basis
  • Television reaches 88% of adults
  • Smartphones, tablets or computers reach 83% of adults

Who’s listening?

  • 95% of Millennials are reached by radio each month
  • 97% of Gen-Xers are reached by radio each month
  • 98% of Boomers are reached by radio each month

Brad Kelly, Managing Director of Nielsen Audio observes that “audio-based news and entertainment lend themselves well to the multi-tasking reality of modern day life. At work, in the car, at the office, on the way to the store, audio is the preferred companion to Americans on the move.”


Radio has a presence on multiple platforms (smartphones, smart speakers, computers and tablets), but over-the-air broadcasting remains the most accessible and reliable vehicle. And of course, as long as there are hurricanes along the Gulf Coast, there will be a need for terrestrial radio. Keeping a portable radio and a good supply of batteries should be at the top of your hurricane preparedness list!