There are two types of radio networks currently in use around the world: the one-to-many broadcast type commonly used for public information and mass media entertainment; and the two-way type used more commonly for public safety and public services such as police, fire, taxicabs, and delivery services. Many of the same components and much of the same basic technology applies to both.
The Two-way type of radio network shares many of the same technologies and components as the Broadcast type radio network but is generally set up with fixed broadcast points (transmitters) with co-located receivers and mobile receivers/transmitters or Tran-ceivers. In this way both the fixed and mobile radio units can communicate with each other over broad geographic regions ranging in size from small single cities to entire states/provinces or countries. There are many ways in which multiple fixed transmit/receive sites can be interconnected to achieve the range of coverage required by the jurisdiction or authority implementing the system: conventional wireless links in numerous frequency bands, fibre-optic links, or micro-wave links. In all of these cases the signals are typically backhauled to a central switch of some type where the radio message is processed and resent (repeated) to all transmitter sites where it is required to be heard.
In contemporary two-way radio systems a concept called trunking is commonly used to achieve better efficiency of radio spectrum use and provide very wide ranging coverage with no switching of channels required by the mobile radio user as it roams throughout the system coverage. Trunking of two-way radio is identical to the concept used for cellular phone systems where each fixed and mobile radio is specifically identified to the system Controller and its operation is switched by the controller. See also the entries Two-way radio and Trunked radio system to see more detail on how various types of radios and radio systems work.
The Broadcast type of radio network is a network system which distributes programming to multiple stations simultaneously, or slightly delayed, for the purpose of extending total coverage beyond the limits of a single broadcast signal. The resulting expanded audience for radio programming or information essentially applies the benefits of mass-production to the broadcasting enterprise. A radio network has two sales departments, one to package and sell programs to radio stations, and one to sell the audience of those programs to advertisers.
Most radio networks also produce much of their programming. Originally, radio networks owned some or all of the stations that broadcast the network's radio format programming. Presently however, there are many networks that do not own any stations and only produce and/or distribute programming. Similarly station ownership does not always indicate network affiliation. A company might own stations in several different markets and purchase programming from a variety of networks.
Radio networks rose rapidly with the growth of regular broadcasting of radio to home listeners in the 1920s. This growth took various paths in different places. In Britain the BBC was developed with public funding, in the form of a broadcast receiver license, and a broadcasting monopoly in its early decades. In contrast, in the United States various competing commercial broadcasting networks arose funded by advertising revenue. In that instance, the same corporation that owned or operated the network often manufactured and marketed the listener’s radio.
Major technical challenges to be overcome when distributing programs over long distances are maintaining signal quality and managing the number of switching/relay points in the signal chain. Early on, programs were sent to remote stations (either owned or affiliated) by various methods, including leased telephone lines, pre-recorded gramophone records and audio tape. The world's first all-radio, non-wireline network was claimed to be the Rural Radio Network, a group of six upstate New York FM stations that began operation in June 1948. Terrestrial microwave relay, a technology later introduced to link stations, has been largely supplanted by coaxial cable, fiber, and satellite, which usually offer superior cost-benefit ratios.
Many early radio networks evolved into Television networks.
Broadcasting networks in various nations
This is the list of radio networks. For individual radio stations, see their respective lists.
- Radio Jovem Pan
- Radio CBN
- Radio Bandeirantes
- BandNews FM
- MiliciaSat (catholic network)
- Radio Globo
- Transamérica Pop, Hits
- BFBS Radio 1 Brunei
- Brunei Radio
- Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
- MBC Radio
- Corus Radio Network
- Rythme FM
- All India Radio (AIR)
- Vividh Bharati
- Radio City (91.1)
- Big FM (92.7)
- Radio One (94.3)
- Radio Mirchi (98.3)
- Red FM (93.5)
- Suryan FM (93.5)
- Hi FM (106.4)
- Radio Republik Indonesia (RRI)
- All Iranian radio (many ch.)
Almost all radio stations in New Zealand are part of a radio network and most are network-owned.
- The Edge FM
- More FM
- Classic Hits
- Solid Gold
- Radio Hauraki
- The Breeze
- The Rock
- Radio Live
- Radio Pacific
- Newstalk ZB
- Radio Sport
- Tourist Information FM
- Radio New Zealand National
- Life FM
- New Zealand's Rhema
- Southern Star
- Radio New Zealand Concert
- ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation
- ACQ-Kingdom Broadcasting Network
- Advanced Media Broadcasting System
- Aliw Broadcasting Corporation
- AMP Broadcasting Network
- Associated Broadcasting Company
- Audiovisual Communicators, Inc.
- Bombo Radyo Philippines
- Bicolandia Broadcasting Network
- Brainstone Broadcasting Inc.
- Catholic Media Network
- Christian Era Broadcasting Service
- Delta Broadcasting System, Inc.
- Eagle Broadcasting Corporation
- Empire Entertainment
- Far East Broadcasting Company
- FBS Radio Network Inc.
- GMA Network
- Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation
- Manila Broadcasting Company
- Mareco Broadcasting Network, Inc.
- Nation Broadcasting Corporation
- National Broadcasting Network
- National Broadcasting System
- Palawan Broadcasting Corporation
- PBN Broadcasting Network
- Philippine Broadcasting Service
- Progressive Broadcasting Corporation
- Quest Broadcasting Inc.
- Radio Mindanao Network
- Radio Philippines Network
- Rajah Broadcasting Network - RJ 100 and RJ Underground Radio 105.9
- Raven Broadcasting Corporation
- Real Radio Network Inc.
- RBN-BBC Broadcasting Corporation
- Regional Broadcasting Corporation
- Southern Broadcasting Network
- The Radio Partners, Inc.
- Vanguard Radio Network
- ZOE Broadcasting Network
- All Turkish radio
British Broadcasting Corporation
- United Nations Radio
- Radio Rainbow International the voice of peace
- Lists of radio stations in Africa
- Lists of radio stations in Asia
- Lists of radio stations in Europe
- Lists of radio stations in North America
- Lists of radio stations in South America
- Lists of radio stations in the South Pacific and Oceania
- Wireless network
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