Radio is free. At least, at the moment... Many years from now, we may find ourselves at a point where most quality radio stations have shut down their radio transmitters in favor of Internet streaming. You'll still be able to pick up AM/FM broadcasts, but they'll be tiny grassroots operations with comparatively short range.
So, why wouldn't the Internet be free? Well, it is facilitated through an infrastructure that is owned in various segments, some by large telecommunications companies and some by the government. Eventually there will be plenty of broadcast towers located throughout the country whereby Internet access through wires will be unnecessary. Will Wi-Fi become free? Well, it's already "free" in some locations, but that's because it's sponsored by local agencies. Who knows... down the road, maybe it'll all be consolidated and we'll be paying an Internet access tax to the government, a flat rate for unlimited access.
The scary thing is that privacy will be practically eliminated. When you're on the Internet, your access will be resolved to a specific identifier that points directly to YOU... not a household, public computer, or generic access point. The government will know exactly when you're on the Internet, at any time, as well as keeping a record of that throughout your lifetime. You can still bypass it to a degree (you don't have to be logged onto sites like Google or YouTube to use them), but eventually when you check e-mail or log onto Facebook, the record is there. Brave new world...
In addition to what Alidar Jarok said.
Radio is a one way system, unlike internet and telephone.
AM (Amplitude modulation) and FM (frequency modulation) are waves that are intercepted by an antena. Those waves are then electrically amplified to kick a speaker. The speaker kicks, you hear sound.
Carrying digital data is far more complicated, requiring a much higher magnitude of wave, and requiring frequency bandwidth.
As it is now, we are running low on wifi bandwidth and will hit our limit in 2 to 5 years. Though building a system upgrade is still possible.
Keep in mind that wifi has got to be carried by transmitters to towers, that send signals to satellites, in order to reach the end user (since no FFC approved device for the general public allows sufficient amplitude to deliver a signal to a satellite). This network of relays is big money, unlike a short wave radio.
Commercial radio is expensive, and paid for by advertisements.
I'd really hate for ISP's to start bombarding us with advertizements. Imagine going to a website, closing the pop up, waiting for the flash object commercials to load up, looking past all the embedded commercial text, and then from your ISP comes 5 minutes of commercials blocking your screen as if your monitor were a television.
I'll stick with paying $55 a month, and occasionally clicking an advertisement and giving it a look, just so the web master of a site can collect a penny for me clicking an ad. I can handle this, I rather like web 2.0 and my corporate government hybrid ISP.
Oh, and by the way, it is nice to click on an advertisement now and then, and give it a look. If you see an add that looks even remotely interesting, just give it a click if you want to help support your favorite websites.
I recently clicked an ad for Amanda Palmer's new CD, that I found on this website, because I like Amanda Palmer. I am seriously considering buying her new CD.