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  • Data: 150 radio songs list

    12.04.2024 Sari Aalto-Setälä
    From country to pop, rap to hard rock – did you know that radio has inspired hundreds of songs? Gramex is launching a list of 150 radio-themed songs to celebrate RadioGala on 12 April. The gala honours the best of the year in domestic commercial radio.

    Commercial radio broadcasting is considered to have begun in 1920 in Pittsburgh, USA, when local station KDKA made the first scheduled radio broadcast.

    When Finnish commercial radio celebrates its annual RadioGala in April, it will mark some 104 years since the industry’s organised start. To mark the occasion, Gramex is launching a list of 150 radio-themed songs.

    The list is a collection of songs about radio that are more or less familiar from years and decades of radio. “The songs are not ranked in order of importance, but the order is more about following the different genres of music. As only 150 songs were selected, there are still a lot of songs left unlisted. Feel free to suggest additions,” says Tuomas Talonpoika, the father of the list idea and director of Gramex.

    The voice of hope

    After the 1920s, radio became an integral part of society and everyday life. Radio has served as a morning alarm, providing the last tunes of the day and the latest news. For many, radio has also been a beacon of hope.

    “In Estonia, you hear stories of people from the former Soviet Union who would breathe with every song on Radio Luxembourg, because it was their only chance to hear the ‘forbidden voices of the West’,” says Gramex expert Martin Saaremägi, an Estonian who helped compile the list.

    “Many of the songs on the list romanticise the role of radio in the happy moments of life – falling in love, growing up and other important moments.”

    “The newer generation, with streaming services always at their fingertips, can’t easily reach the mindset of the teenager who recorded their favourite radio station on a cassette recorder just to get the best and freshest tracks,” says Saaremägi, who also grew up with radio.

    Radio as an inspiration

    Radio has created highlights, stars and legends. Similarly, songwriters have always written songs for radio.

    “We don’t know whether the choice of radio theme was a blue-eyed bow to radio or a bribe to get their own songs on the airwaves. Whatever the reason, radio has inspired many great songs,” say Talonpoika and Saaremägi.

    The list starts with two songs that pay tribute to radio: Elvis Costello’s “Radio Is Everything” and Smashing Pumpkins’ “I Of The Mourning.”

    Other radio-themed anthems include Rush’s “The Spirit Of The Radio” and Queen’s “Radio Gaga”, the latter of which tells the story of growing up with radio.

    There is also celebration, heartbreak and rebellion. Bruce Springsteen looks to the radio for company in “Radio Nowhere”, “State Trooper” and “Open All Night”. The Ramones’ “We Want the Airwaves” screams the spirit of rebellion and the desire to get your own music on the airwaves.

    “There are also Finnish songs, some of which have perhaps received a little less attention. Do you remember Jukka Kuoppamäki’s “Radiosta rokin kuulen” or Steel City’s “Radio Girls”? Or did you know that Tatu Pekkarinen’s “Laulu Radiosta” was published back in 1929?” speculates Talonpoika.

    Newer Finnish songs on the list include Aleksanteri Hakaniemi’s “Radio” and Arttu Wiskari’s “Meidän biisi”.

    According to Talonpoja and Saaremägi, there is power in radio – also in the future.

    “No matter what Buggles promised in 1979. The video hasn’t killed the radio star!”