Following their two most successful albums, lead singer Steve Perry began to take more control over the band's direction. First, Ross Valory and Steve Smith were fired from the band, against the wishes of manager Herbie Herbert. The two were replaced by various studio musicians for the recording of Raised on Radio, including Randy Jackson (bass guitar) and Larrie Londin (drums). Smith did record three tracks with Journey on the album, and he and Valory still received revenues from the record and subsequent tour. Both returned to Journey in 1996.
Second, Perry changed the original title of this project from Freedom to Raised on Radio. This drew the ire of Herbert and some of the band members, and might have contributed to the departure of Smith and Valory.
Much of the album has a feel similar to Perry's solo album Street Talk. However, the classic Journey sound can still be heard on songs like "Girl Can't Help It" and the longtime concert staple "Be Good to Yourself". The ballads "Suzanne," ''I'll Be Alright Without You", and "Why Can't This Night Go on Forever", which was written in a similar style to the hit song "Faithfully", achieved minor chart success. Overall there were four top 40 singles: "Girl Can't Help It" (No. 17), "Be Good to Yourself" (No. 9), "I'll Be Alright Without You" (No. 14), and "Suzanne" (No. 17).
Many critics feel that Perry's influence and direction for Raised on Radio caused album sales to be lower than previous ones. But the fans sent it to No. 4 on the Billboard 200 chart and it was certified double platinum in the USA.
The cover of the album was modeled after the studios and antennas for KNGS in Hanford, California, which was owned by Perry's parents, Ray and Mary Perry.