Today, February 13, is World Radio Day, and this year’s theme ‘A New World, A New Radio’ is ‘an ode to the resilience of radio’ according to the World Radio Day’s United Nations website.
By far the majority of radio listening takes place in cars and trucks so its importance as standard equipment in almost all new vehicles has not been diminished, but instead has evolved and systems such as Ford’s SYNC4 system, which is currently fitted to models like the Mustang Mach-E, is faster, easier and simpler than ever to use.
It was not always like that and, while we take for granted the crystal-clear AM and FM radio signals that we are able to receive and listen to while in our car, in the 1930s, car radios looked and sounded a lot different to the sleek and compact designs we know today.
Early radio devices were so enormous that they occupied the entire back seat of a car and the power required to run them often came at the expense of the car’s own performance. Car radios in their early stages of development were also luxury items owned by the very wealthy – it was not uncommon for a radio to cost nearly half of the vehicle’s purchase price!
In 1930, the American Galvin Manufacturing Corporation launched the world’s first commercially available in-car radio called the Motorola – a combination of the words ‘motor’ and ‘Victrola’ – the brand name of a very early record player. However, it was only when Ford began offering factory-fitted Motorola AM radios in its new cars coming off the assembly line in 1933 that in-vehicle audio really took off, and soon became an auto manufacturing industry standard.
While radio has evolved, so has Ford’s SYNC4 system which ties in perfectly with this year’s World Radio Day sub-themes of Evolution, Innovation and Connection.
Featuring cloud-based connectivity and conversational voice recognition, SYNC4 delivers comprehensive search results and more functionality for customers. This includes cloud-based optional navigation to keep up with the latest traffic information, the ability to quickly browse digital owner’s manuals, and wireless compatibility with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and AppLink apps from smartphones and mobile devices.
By taking advantage of state-of-the-art, cloud-based voice processing, SYNC4 can understand conversational requests, such as “Find me the best Thai restaurant,” and offer data-based suggestions to drivers. Staying in contact with friends and family also becomes easier, with natural speech recognition enabling communication via SMS and email.
“Radio remains an important low-cost medium for communication but during COVID-19, its role in informing, educating and empowering has been profound,” says Kuda Takura, spokesperson for Ford South Africa.
“While erstwhile Fords like the Model T helped to push car radio into the mainstream, Ford’s latest SYNC4 system will help it thrive in a changing world and amongst new demands and technologies. We look forward to celebrating more years of radio as it evolves, innovates and connects.”