BIAGI Chapter 6 - Radio: Riding the Wave
Radio Sounds are Everywhere
Radio is everywhere, but what we hear today is diff and diff in meaning than heard decades ago. Today they
are an accessory rather than a once necessary technology.
Radio Takes a Technological Leap
Telegraph Telephone Wireless Telegraphy (radio signals)
Morse Bell Hertz
Radio waves were Hertzian waves when he discovered it.
Broadcasting is Born
4 pioneers of radio broadcast:
(1) Wireless Breakthrough: Guglielmo Marconi
Msg should travel without wire – thus invented wireless messaging
(2) Experimental Broadcasts: Reginald Aubery Fessenden (Canadian)
Sending voices by radio waves
Fessenden’s 1906 experiment is the first voice and music broadcast
(3) Detecting Radio Waves: Lee de Forest
1907: He perfected a glass bulb called the Audion, which could detect radio waves
Audion became the foundation of modern broadcasting
(4) Radio for the People: David Sarnoff
To bring music into home by wireless
He made RCA nation’s primary radio distributor
Federal Government Regulates the Airewaves
Congress passed the Radio Act of 1912 to license people wanting to broadcast or receive msgs.
Military took over radio waves during WWI, but this ceased after the war
Government Approves Commercial Broadcasting
RCA was formed by private monopoly; it dominated for a while until other smaller operations formed
Experimental Stations Multiply
Charles D. Herrold founded a voice radio station
KDKA Launches Commercial Broadcasting
KDKA is nation’s first commercial radio station (from Pittsburgh, by Frank Conrad) – 1920
Made radio an easy-to-use medium for all
Radio Audience Expands Quickly
Government expanded regulation of broadcasting.
Developments: Blanket licensing agreement, decision that radio would accept commercial sponsors, and Radio
Act of 1927.
An arrangement whereby radio stations become authorized to use recorded music for broadcast by paying a fee
By paying blanket licensing fee, stations can use all ASCAP-licensed music on air.
ASCAP and BMI are licensing organizations
WEAF started selling advertising time. Advertisers paid for programming, and consumers indirectly paid
Federal Radio Commission
Radio Act of 1927: found there was shortage of air space; thus federal gov licensed the stations for 3 yrs, and
the commission required the stations to operate “as a public convenience, interest or necessity requires”
1934: Congress established Federal Communications Commission (FCC): to regulate expanding wireless
Radio Grows into a Powerful Force
1930s-40s, radio provided cultura/political force. It mixed entertainment, culture, and public service.
More radio is listened in car and work, than at home. “War of the Worlds” Challenges Radio’s Credibility
War of the Worlds was a play aired on radio, without many people knowing about it. Thus, its info misled
many Americans to misinterpret
Radio Networks Expand
Network: collection of stations (radio/TV) that offers programs, usually simultaneously, throughout the
country, during designated times
Networking was easier than creating own local programs
David Sarnoff Launches NBC
RCA, GE, and Westinghouse formed the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) in 1926.
NBC formed Red network and Blue network
William S. Paley Starts CBS
Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS); nemesis of NBC
Edward Noble Buys ABC
Bought the NBC-Blue network, which became the American Broadcasting Company (ABC)
Radio Adapts to Television
1940s 1960s (Radio prospered despite TV)
1. FM radio frequency accepted by public
2. Disc jockeys hold music show
3. Radio formats streamline broadcasts
4. People start buying clock and car radios
5. The payola scandals focus on broadcast ethics
Inventor Edwin H. Armstrong Pioneers FM
To eliminate static radio sounds, Armstrong applied to FCC in 1936, the Frequency Modulation (FM) – it
offered truer transmission than AM.
Armstrong battled RCA’s Sarnoff for royalties; RCA was claiming they owned FM
Licensed Recordings Launch Disc Jockeys
Early radios refused to play recordings to avoid ASCAP royalties
Martin Block: America’s first disc jockey – played records btw his newscasts.
BMI charged less for recordings artists than ASCAP, thus aided in creating disc jockey
Clock and Car Radios Make Radio Portable
Clock Radios were introduced in 1950s, waking people up with news
Radio station owner coined the term, Drive-Time Audiences – people who listen to radio in their cars during
6-9 a.m. and 4-7 p.m.
Gordon McLendon Introduces Format Radio