The Legacy and the Rebirth of Modern Radio

Dec 29, 2016

There is a time where radio is called as “Pesawat Radio” (Radio Receiver) and it is a common term used by people as radio broadcast “transports” messages in forms of news or entertainment. Radio broadcast connects and brings those who are separated by distance closer. Through the transmission of radio wave, radio is able to send the voice of people who give information, knowledge and hope, making his or her presence materialized in people’s mind. The technology of radio is one of “miracles” created by mankind by understanding the principle of radio wave that is transmitted through space. The same principle becomes a foundation for communication technology that is advanced with the invention of satelite technology. “Pesawat Radio”, in the other hand, is a tool whose function is to receive radio wave from transmitter. The history of “Pesawat Radio” development shows two important facts. First, the invention of radio is possible due to the creation of transistor and the development of knowledge and technology that support transmission system, making the discovery of radio waves is able to be conducted. Technology advancement also improves radio’s technology, from analog signal to digital one. Second, development of “Pesawat Radio” also changes the way the design of the radio, changing its aesthetic appeal in each period of time. The design of radio is revolutionalized with new invention in science, technology and aesthetic appeal.

Developing radio technology is conducted to improve radio’s capability and its power in receiving transmission. Improving the aesthetic appeal of radio design, in the other hand, is an embodiment of mankind’s admiration for the invention of the technology. Radio designs represent the euphoria of certain time period, emphasizing that each period of time has their own unique radio design. Therefore, radio is not only just a succesful invention, but it is also a life-changing technology that changes the way we perceive our experiences in life, making it an embodiment of mankind’s achievement. Radio broadcast is an important piece of history in people’s life as it becomes living proof of various events that change their life. It also succeed in uniting various hopes and dreams, fulfilling people’s needs of knowledge and entertainment.


Radio does not only make people’s life more interesting, but it also shapes the way people grow. Memories of past events and stories that originated from radio broadcast are not easy to be erased and expressed, even until now. However, various hopes and happiness transmitted by “Pesawat Radio” now are carried out by other new invention and technology such as television that is able to channel those hopes and happiness in audiovisual media. At first, audiovisual technology in television becomes more popular, but radio broadcast is still favoured by its fans as it has its own charm that is fascinated by some certain people. One of enjoyments in listening to radio broadcast is to be able to use our imagination in visualizing stories that are told in the broadcast. Radio announcers are famous for their skills in evoking collective imagination of their listeners, making the events and stories become a reality in their mind. Television screen is still not able to match the power of people’s imagination when they listen to radio.

The roles and social function of radio broadcast is getting replaced by other technology that uses visual as its medium, because there is a shift in society’s culture and lifestyle. It creates society of the spectacle and society that is based on visual culture. As the result, watching is more favoured than listening. The television industry now is growing even larger and it is considered as a leading information and entertainment industry. It seems that radio broadcast is defeated by television broadcast and people’s capability in creating imagination is decreasing as now they are get used to information and entertainment that are presented in visual medium. Now people no longer use their imagination to visualize their dreams, hopes, and entertainment as everything is presented in visual form produced by television industry. The changes in entertainment and information industry that affect radio broadcast industry also influence the development of radio equipment.

Now radio equipments undergo changes as the industry of radio equipment is influenced by some arguments.   First, radio equipment now is produced only to meet people’s need who do not have an access to television technology.. Second, the equipment is created to fill market or certain needs that cannot be filled yet with television technology. Therefore, radio equipment is produced because it is efficient and simple to use. The advancement of digital technology may turn radio equipment into an obsolete technology and the equipment operates only as a digital program. Third, the equipment is produced to preserve and honor the value of its historic invention as it is a technology that advances our civilization. The third argument shows a desire to reminisce and sustain the advancement value contained in the development history of radio. A “Pesawat radio” has a precious value, not because its function, but because it acts as a symbol and it becomes an important part of the society’s culture. For example, a radio collector does not collect various radio types for its function, but he collects it due to his or her admiration for the history and stories of mankind advancement that are contained in a radio. Due to his or her admiration and appreciation for radio’s design, a collector would be able to measure the quality of a “Pesawat Radio”. Quality of the radio affects his or her enjoyment when he or she listens to it. These are some of qualities of radio that can be measured: clarity, designs, material, and symbols that are contained in the radio. A collector understands that radio is a symbol of cultural triumph, reflecting a progress of certain period.

From those arguments above, we can draw a conclusion that neo-Cawang radio, that is currently exhibited, is one of radio industries that tries to preserve the value of history. neo-Cawang radio is a reincarnation of “Cawang”, the first radio manufacturer in Indonesia. On its golden days, Cawang Indonesia radio is a popular “Pesawat Radio” brand and many Indonesian in various places use it. Now the radio is reincarnated with a different mission. In this era where visual culture is a global phenomenon and experiences a great progress, neo-Cawang radio , with its “Art Radio” tagline”, emerges with different visual as it contains Indonesian traditional ornamentation. Radio produced by neo-Cawang has a classic design, because it still uses wood as its main material just like other radios that are produced in the past.

Compared to radio that uses plastic as its material, wood is still a better material for radio as it has a natural and unique trait in reflecting high quality sound. Also neo-Cawang has various radio broadcast (SW, AM, FM) compared to other modern radios who only have FM broadcasting, so neo-Cawang’s radios are able to receive broadcast from a radio station located in a far away place. This is a commitment to sustain the functional value of radio, preserving its golden days in a form of contemporary radio. “Pesawat Radio” is able to receive signals from other radio transmitters that come from far places in the other side of the world. neo-Cawang radio is produced to evoke our admiration of radio’s historical value and its cultural achievement. The value of “Pesawat Radio” does not only lie in its function, but it also lies in its symbolical design that gives pleasure for those who see it. Penciptaan jenis radio semacam ini tidak semata-mata memahami radio dalam fungsinya secara praktik tetapi juga memaknainya sebagai produk simbolik yang berisikan kenangan nilai-nilai dan pengalaman hidup. I hope that neo-Cawang not only can evoke the memories of Indonesian’s achievement in giving significant contribution to the world of radio industry, but I also hope that neo-Cawang can promote the creativity and craftmanship of Indonesian people.

Rizki A. Zaelani
Art Curator