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Chapter 4

Chapter 4 Notes: Popular Radio and the Origins of Broadcasting

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MMC 2604
Mariam Alkazemi

MMC2604 9/22/13 Chapter 4 Notes  Early Technology and the Development of Radio o The telegraph is the precursor of radio technology  Invented in the 1840s o Morse code: a series of dots and dashes that stood for letters in the alphabet invented by Samuel Morse o By 1844, Morse had set up the first telegraph line between Washington DC and Baltimore o By 1866, the first transatlantic cable, capable of transmitting about six words a minute, ran between Newfoundland and Ireland along the ocean floor o Maxwell and Hertz Discover Radio Waves  The key development in wireless transmissions came from James Maxwell, a Scottish physicist who in the mid-1860s theorized the existence of electromagnetic waves: invisible electronic impulses similar to visible light  Radio waves can be harnessed so that signals can be sent from a transmission point to a reception point  Heinrich Hertz proved Maxwell’s theories in the 1880s o Marconi and the Inventors of Wireless Telegraphy  In 1896, Guglielmo Marconi traveled to England, where he received a patent on wireless telegraphy, a from of voiceless point-to-point communication  1897 he formed the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company, later known as British Marconi  1899 opened a branch in the U.S. (American Marconi)  Alexander Popov was experimenting with sending wireless messages over distances  The work of Popov and Marconi was preceded by that of Nikola Tesla who invented a wireless system in 1892  In 1943 the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Marconi’s wireless patent and deemed Tesla the inventor of radio o Wireless Telephone: De Forest and Fessenden  In 1899, inventor Lee De Forest wrote the first Ph.D. dissertation on wireless technology  In 1902, De Forest set up the Wireless Telephone Company to compete head-on with American Marconi  Wireless telephony: wireless voice and music transmissions  De Forest’s biggest breakthrough was the development of the Audion, or triode, vacuum tube, which detected radio signals and then amplified them  Most engineers agreed that Edwin Armstrong (who later developed the FM radio) was the true inventor of the Audion and disagreed with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1934 decision on the case that favored De Forest  The credit for the first voice broadcast belongs to Canadian engineer Reginald Fessenden  Broadcasting: the transmission of radio waves to a broad public audience  Narrowcasting: person-to-person communication o Regulating a New Medium  The two most important international issues affecting radio in the 1900s were ship radio requirements and signal interference  Wireless Ship Act of 1910 required that all major U.S. seagoing ships carrying more than fifty passengers and traveling more than two hundred miles off the coast be equipped with wireless equipment with a 100-mile range  Radio Waves as a Natural Resource  Radio Act of 1912: addressed the problem of amateur radio operators increasingly cramming the airwaves  Legislators determined that broadcasting constituted a “natural resource”  Radio Act required all wireless stations to obtain radio licenses from the Commerce Department  The Impact of World War I  When the U.S. entered the war in 1917, the navy closed down all amateur radio operations and took control of key radio transmitters to ensure military security  The Formation of RCA  Private sector monopoly: a private company, that would have the government’s approval to dominate the radio industry  Radio Corporation of America (RCA): acquired American Marconi and radio patents of other U.S. companies  A government restriction mandated that no more than 20% of RCA (and eventually any U.S. broadcasting facility) could be owned by foreigners  RCA’s most significant impact was that it gave the U.S. almost total control over the emerging mass medium of broadcasting  The Evolution of Radio o KDKA: first commercial broadcast station o First professional broadcast: Cox-Harding presidential election on November 2, 1920 o By 1923 more than 600 commercial and noncommercial stations were operating o By 1925, 5.5 million radio sets were in use across America o The RCA Partnership Unravels  In 1922 AT&T decided to break its RCA agreements in an attempt to monopolize radio  AT&T started WEAF (now WNBC), the first radio station to regularly sell commercial time to advertisers (called toll broadcasting)  In 1923, when AT&T aired a program simultaneously on its flagship WEAF station and on WNAC in Boston, the phone company created the first network: a cost-saving operation that links a group a broadcast stations that share programming produced at a central location o Sarnoff and NBC: Building the “Blue” and “Red” Networks  David Sarnoff  Marconi’s personal messenger  Helped relay information about the Titanic survivors  Closely involved in RCA’s creation in 1919  RCA’s first commercial manager  Sarnoff created a new subsidiary in September 1926 called the National Broadcasting Company (NBC)  The original telephone group became known as NBC-Red and the radio group (network previously established by RCA, GE, and Westinghouse) became the NBC-Blue network  By 1933, NBC-Red had 28 affiliates and NBC-Blue had 24  In 1929, Sarnoff cut a deal with General Motors for the manufacture of car radios (invented by William Lear)  Sarnoff also merged RCA with the Victor Talking Machine Company (company became known as RCA Victor)  1930: Sarnoff became the president of RCA o Government Scrutiny Ends RCA-NBC Monopoly  In 1932, the government revoked RCA’s monopoly status  Sarnoff’s company bought out GE’s and Westinghouse’s remaining shares in RCA’s manufacturing business o CBS and Paley: Challenging NBC  The Columbia Phonograph Company was looking for a way to preempt RCA’s merger with the Victor Company  UIB (United Independent Broadcasters) launched the new Columbia Phonograph Broadcasting System, a 16-affiliate network in 1927, nicknamed CPBS (later dropped the Phonograph from its title)  In 1928, William Paley bought a controlling interest in CBS to sponsor their cigar brand, La Palina  Hired Edward Bernays (public relations pioneer) to polish the new network’s image  Paley and Bernays modified a concept called option time, in which CBS paid affiliate stations $50 per hour for an option on a portion of their time  By 1933, CBS had more than 90 affiliates, many defecting from NBC  In 1949 CBS finally surpassed NBC as the highest-rated network o Bringing Order to Chaos with the Radio Act of 1927  Beginning in 1925, Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover ordered radio stations to share time by setting aside certain frequencies for entertainment and news and others for farm and weather reports  In 1926, the courts decided that based on the Radio Act, Hoover only had the power to grant licenses, not to restrict stations from operating  To restore order to the airwaves, Congress passed the Radio Act of 1927, which stated that licensees did not own their channels but could only license them as long as they operated to serve the “public interest, convenience, or necessity”  The 1927 act created the Federal Radio Commission (FRC)  In 1934, with the passage of the Communications Act of 1934, the FRC became the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) o The Golden Age of Radio  Early Radio Programming  The variety show was among the most popular early programs o Began with the Eveready Hour in 1923 on WEAF  By the 1930s, studio-audience shows had emerged  Dramatic programs developed as early as 1922 o By 1940, 60 different soap operas occupied
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