For some of you reading this, the word 'radio' evokes the image of an icon you press on your smartphone or tablet. But for the older generation, radio served as an instrument of both entertainment and terror (War of the Worlds broadcast with Orson Welles is a case in point).
Dials and vacuum tubes may have been replaced by digital wizardry but the radio still remains ubiquitous, especially the FM radio. Now, after decades of putting smiles in our faces, FM radio is nearing its inevitable end.
Norway is set to become the world's first country to turn off its FM radio network as it rides the digital railroad into the future.
The move will be watched closely by other countries who have been mulling a similar initiative.
Norway's plan to move to fully Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB), which can carry a far larger number of radio stations (nearly eight times more), has been met with a few raised eyebrows, as nearly two million cars on Norwegian roads are not equipped with digital radio receivers. In Norway, digital radio receiver for cars could cost around $170.
Also, a number of Norwegian homes are not equipped to receive DAB, which means they will effectively lose all radio coverage once the FM is turned off. The move is raising safety concerns as well since the FM radios serve as a means to alert houses situated in remote locations in case of an emergency.
"We're the first country to switch off FM, but there are several countries going in the same direction," said Ole Joergen Torvmark, head of Digital Radio Norway. Switching to DAB will save Norwegian radio stations a lot of money too.
Meanwhile, the UK has plans to switch off FM as early as this year, while Switzerland is considering going full digital in 2020. Both countries will be monitoring how Norway holds up after shutting down FM radio.