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A 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 programming 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 radio stations that broadcast the network's 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 Britainmarker the BBC was developed with public funding, in the form of a broadcast receiving license, and a broadcasting monopoly in its early decades. In contrast, in the United States of Americamarker various competing commercial 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.

Radio Networks in various nations

This is the list of radio networks. For indivisual radio stations, see their respective lists.


Australian Broadcasting Corporationmarker






People's Republic of Chinamarker




  • All Iranian radio (many ch.)



Republic of Koreamarker


New Zealandmarker

Almost all radio stations in New Zealand are part of a radio network and most are network-owned.



  • All Turkish radio

United Kingdommarker

British Broadcasting Corporation

United States of Americamarker


See also

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