Brief History of Radio Broadcasting

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The radio has become one of our most simple forms of broadcasting and communication. From helping connect soldiers on the front line of battle to entertaining the commuter on their ride to work, the radio is a part of everyday life. With it’s low cost and simplicity of technology it is very easy to tune in to your favorite station however, it was not always this way.

It began in 1887 when a man named Heinrich Hertz discovered radio waves and their ability to transmit code wirelessly. Hertz’s research was followed up by Reginald Fessenden who created the first continuos wave generator, which was inspired by the action of skipping stones across water.

The dawn of commercial radio was beginning and the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) was established bringing about innovations in high powered radio. Frank Conrad an engineer for Westinghouse was the fist to begin broadcasting, which he did out of his garage. He began broadcasting sports, news, and music while at the same time giving “free advertising” spots to people. Sears Department stores begin to buy into the new technology selling approximately 17 million units between 1925 and 1930 giving radio the title of “mass media”.

With such a large audience radio stations began selling on-air advertising time helping to generate 27 million dollars a year in 1937. The first major network to begin broadcasting was NBC(1926) and not soon after CBS was started as competition. These stations began to hire big names like Jack Benny, George Burns, and Ed Wynn to do on air shows.

With the popularity of radio interference becomes a problem, resulting in licenses issued by the government. The government also defined AM radio, standardized channels, and eradicated portable stations.

When the depression hits in 1930 spending on radio triples and the Federal Communication Commission(FCC) is developed to regulate foreign commerce communication by radio. It is also around this time that FM radio is established by Edwin...
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