Logan Wyman, email@example.com
radio has been the first device to allow for mass communication. It has
enabled information to be transferred far and wide, not only nationally
wide but internationally as well. The development of the radio began in
1893 with Nikolai Tesla’s demonstration of wireless radio communication
in St. Louis, Missouri. His work laid the foundation for those later scientists
who worked to perfect the radio we now use. The man most associated with
the advent of the radio is Guglielmo Marconi, who in 1986 was awarded
the official patent for the radio by the British Government.
The early uses of the radio were mainly for maintaining contact between
ships out a sea. However, this initial radio was unable to transmit speech,
and instead sent Morse code messages back and forth between ships and
stations on the land. During time of distress, a sinking ship would use
a radio messaged nearby vessels and stations on the land to ask for aid.
The radio saw a surge of use during the First World War. Both sides used
the radio to relay messages to troops and top officials as well as people
not on the battle front. At the end of the war, President Woodrow Wilson’s
Fourteen Points was sent to Germany via use of the radio. After the war’s
end, with the growth of radio receivers, broadcasting began in Europe
and The United States.
Europe’s most famous broadcasting station, the British Broadcasting
Company or BBC, began following in 1922. In fact, Marconi was one of the
founding members along with other prominent leaders in the field of wireless
manufacturers. Broadcasts began locally in London, but by 1925 it has
spread to most of the United Kingdom. The station aired plays, classical
music and variety programs. However, the newspaper industry maintained
a strong hold over the new. In 1926 this all changed due to a newspaper
strike in England. With no news being published it fell on the BBC to
supply the information for the public. In 1927 the BBC became the British
Broadcasting Corporation when it was granted it a Royal Charter. When
the Second World War began all the television stations shut down and it
fell on the shoulders of the radio to cover the war.
Radio Act of 1912 required all land radio stations and ship stations to
be staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Following the war radio saw its greatest advancements and a turn towards
its more modern form. The devastation of Britain made its citizens look
for an outlet in radio entertainment. People enjoyed listening to the
music, plays and discussion that the BBC played. During the 1960s with
the expansion of radio to FM more programs were played and local BBC stations
opened up across England. Radio in Europe continued to expand and in the
1990s new radio stations, like Radio 1, 4 and 5 began broadcasting with
genres like sports and comedy appealing to new audiences. As the BBC entered
into the new millennium its popularity continued to grow. Its broadcasts
of “The Century Speaks”, an oral history of the 20th century
and a reading of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”
helped to gain more listeners. In 2002 the BBC expanded to the digital
market and saw its greatest expansion as new stations like 1Xtra, 5 Live,
Sports Extra, 6 Music and BBC 7 were launched and World Service were made
available to domestic listeners. The history of radio broadcasting in
the United States followed a similar path.
Radio broadcasting in the United States started with the Westinghouse
Company. The company asked Frank Conrad, one of their engineers, to start
regularly broadcasting of music, while they would sell radios to pay for
the service. Westinghouse applied for a commercial radio license in 1920,
and started their station KDKA, the first officially government licensed
radio station. The station’s first broadcast was the election returns
of the Harding-Cox presidential race. Westinghouse also took out ads in
the newspaper advertising radios for sale to the public. Soon, thousand
of radio stations emerged that played a wide variety of broadcasts and
reached people across the country that had bought or built their own receivers.
The home building of receivers created a problem in the market, since
people could simply build their own radios rather than going out to buy
them and the government was forced to step in. To curb this a government-sanctioned
agreement created the Radio Corporation Agreements, RCA, was formed to
manage the patents for the technology of the receiver and transmitter.
Companies like General Electric and Westinghouse were allowed to make
receivers while Western Electric was allowed to build transmitters. Also
in the agreements, AT&T was made the only station that was allowed
to engage in toll broadcasting and chain broadcasting. This paved the
way for the next step in radio development in America, radio advertising.
- The first offically licensed radio station in Pittsburgh, Pa.
WEAF, an AT&T station in New York broadcasted the first radio advertisement
in 1923. Even with the RCA agreements, other station began radio advertising.
Most of the other radio stations were owned by private businesses and
were used exclusively to sell that company’s products. The RCA agreements
did create a problem though, it gave AT&T a monopoly over toll broadcasting
and therefore radio advertisements. To break the monopoly, NBC and CBS
were created and became the first radio networks in the late 1920s era.
Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow became the first radio journalists,
and by the end of the decade the radio had become an important source
for news in America. In the next decade war in Europe again broke out
and it fell on the radio to cover it. The radio acted to pacify and assuage
the worries of a confused and scared public. More importantly the radio
helped to pull together the nation’s moral and backing of the war
effort. With the end of the war in 1945 television saw its rise to prominence
and radio began to go on a slow but steady decline. But in the 1950’s
thanks to Rock and Roll the radio saw new life.
Following the Second World War the radio turned into its more recognizable
for of musical entertainment. AM stations played a top-40 time and temperature
format, which meant they played popular three minute songs in constant
rotation. All programming and music became aimed at a target audience
of ages twelve to thirty five, newly emerging “middle class”.
The sixties and seventies also saw the rise of FM radio. The new music
that FM aired began to pose a threat to the old top-40 music AM stations
still played in rotation, and the growing music of the hippie and psychedelic
generation took over the FM airwaves. Through the 80s and 90s radio broadcasting
continued to expand. Thousands of more stations sprung up playing all
different kinds of music, world, pop, rock, jazz, classical, etc…
However, in the 21st century the radio has reached its greatest heights.
With the year 2000 the radio expanded into the satellite and internet
markets. The need for live DJ’s is dwindling since everything can
be done via a computer all the editing and broadcasting can be done using
hard drive of a computer. Jobs that used to take hours to do can now be
done with the simple click of a mouse. Car companies have paired up with
satellite radio stations like XM radio to offer special deals on satellite
radios which offer every kind of music, news, and entertainment stations
one could ask for.
Radio is a popular form of entertainment in the United States.
From a tiny receiver that could transmit only sounds to a complex device
with satellites in space and wireless systems in cars, the radio has seen
tremendous development. The purpose of the radio, however, has remained
constant. From its inception the radio was created to communicate messages
in mass for. Whether it be strictly news stories like in its early days,
or binging new music to fans across the nation information is always being
shared via this device. In almost every country radios are present, and
in some it is a primary means for communication. Without its invention
our world would be vastly different, it offered the first true means of
mass communication and allowed leaders and people alike to impart valuable
information to each other with the ease and efficiency.
Mike. "100 Years of Radio Broadcasting." California Historical
Radio. 11 Apr 2008 <http://www.californiahistoricalradio.com/100years.html>.
Wikipedia. 11 Apr 2008 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio>.
BBC Story." BBC Story the History of th BBC. April 11, 2008. The
BBC. 11 Apr 2008 <www.bbc.co.uk/heritage/story/index.shtml>.