Do you have a favorite radio station? What do you like about it? Have you ever wondered how your radio is able to produce the sounds and the music that you like to hear?
Radio programs are sent by a machine called a transmitter to your radio which is called a receiver. The programs don't travel through wires like telephone messages do. They are sent through the air over long distances by electromagnetic waves. These waves are called radio waves and were discovered by a German scientist named Heinrich Hertz. He discovered that these waves could carry sound signals. He also discovered that radio waves have different lengths.
Guglielmo Marconi, an Italian, invented a microphone that changed sound waves into electronic signals, and then he developed a receiver that turned them back into sound again. He also found a way to keep waves of the same length together and keep those of different wave lengths separate. On his equipment, a radio wave looked like a letter "s" lying on its side. Short waves curved up and down more times each second than longer ones, so he divided all the waves by how many times they curved each second or by how frequently they curved. He called each group a frequency. The numbers on your radio dial are different frequencies. Different stations can broadcast their programs at the same time using different frequencies.
Later, scientists found that by using only the top half of a radio wave they could reduce static and other noise that interfered with clear sound. This kind of radio transmission is called FM broadcasting because the frequency has been modulated or changed.