See radio differently…

…is a re-branding exercise by an outfit called Radiocentre (it declines the use of a definite article in its literature).


Speaking to radio and industry professionals in Leeds, Yorkshire, in October 2018 Lucy Barrett from the organisation said most stock photographs that accompany a newspaper or online story about radio tend to feature “mother, father, and two children gathered around a valve radio from the 1930s”. It is, frankly, an out-dated visual cliché. She may well have a point. A quick audit of the photos on this website suggest a third of the radio photos show short-wave and/or valve receivers; there’s not a single snap of a DAB radio (unless you count the top bit of the pic above). However, your correspondent pleads mitigation by the inclusion elsewhere on this site of shots of a car radio and of a podcast on a mobile phone. Although, he’s slightly embarrassed by one picture of an audio cassette. That one is buried deep in the archive.

So, what does radio look like? For George Lucas it was the hot-rod cars, the sweltering heat of mid-California, and the cameo appearance of Wolfman Jack live on-air:

For the rock band Queen the radio had authoritarian overtones:

For Charlie Dore – and her turntable hit of the late 1970s (did you see what I did there?) – the radio was a comfort to loneliness:

But it was still quite a cheesy song…

And in the autumn of 2018 Radiocentre – an industry body in the UK for commercial radio aimed at both promoting and lobbying for the sector as well as encouraging creativity in advertising – published a series of stock photos for journalists to use to illustrate ‘the radio’. The aim was to bring ‘radio’ into the 21st century.

Here’s “Young-Friends-Car-Radio” (the radio is on the left of the shot and it’s the passenger who’s tuning it).


And here’s one featuring a DAB/FM radio:


The aim, says Radiocentre, is to re-image radio with contemporary lifestyle photos. It’s a positive move, and it demonstrates how difficult it is to visualise a medium that only exists to be photographed as a piece of receiving equipment. The alternative is a shot of a DJ in a studio surrounded by equipment and technical trickery such as a microphone, mixing desk, computer screens, and headphones (which immediately alienates the listener who can’t visualise Sarah Cox, Chris Evans or Eddie Mair talking to them with their heads shrouded in a pair of Beyerdynamic DT100s).

Those cans have been around since the early 1960s…

…which perhaps says something else about the longevity of some forms of radio technology.

I’d be interested to see your ideas and photographs of contemporary radio listening. Click the button to comment.

4 thoughts on “See radio differently…

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