There are two forms of radio, AM/FM and satellite. Also known as analog and digital, both methods of broadcasting are transmitted into a radio system, or stereo, built with a receiver. Information received into the system is then translated into sound. The sound that is then heard is a song, an advertisement, or a radio talk show. Both AM/FM and satellite radio produce the same product, sound that is listened to.
AM/FM stations are transmitted and received through air waves in the analog form of radio. Analog, meaning continuously varying, represents a band of frequencies that are similar, yet different. For example, imagine a clock with a second hand that continuously moves clockwise, smoothly, without the familiar tic-toc sound. That clock represents an analog system. Digital radio, also known as satellite radio, is also transmitted and received through air waves. However, the audio sound is now represented digitally, meaning that instead of a continuous band of all different frequencies of air waves, each station is now accounted for numerically. This enables satellites to magnetically transmit audio data from one point to another, from one satellite receiver to the next.
Another major difference between AM/FM and satellite radio is the methods of which they are governed. AM/FM radio is free air waves anyone can receive. The free air waves that AM/FM signals are transmitted through are monitored and controlled by the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC is an independent United States Government agency. The FCC regulates interstate and international communication by radio, television, telephone wire, cable, and a small amount of satellites. The FCC has a jurisdiction covering all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and all United States possessions. AM/FM radio is free, costing the listener only the price paid for the actual piece of electronic in which the signal is being received to.