Radio Entertainment In 1920s
"Video Killed the Radio Star" is the debut song of The Buggles released September 7th 1979 but, did not make an impression on the general public until its release as the debut video on MTV at 12:01 August 1st 1981, almost 100 years after the invention of radio. Henirich Hertz, a German Physicist, created the foundation of radio in 1886 by proving that electric waves could be transmitted and received without the need of a physical medium (Spiker 2). Nokolai Tesla expanded on Hertz’s design and in 1893 in Saint Louis, Missouri demonstrated that signals could be transmitted wirelessly. As with any idea there is an ongoing process to improve, and in 1896, Guglielmo Marconi considered as the father of radio received an award for his contribution to radio technology. Marconi’s early radio used dot-dash telegraphy otherwise known as Morse code to transmit messages from one ship to another (Spiker 3). When a ship had trouble at sea they used radio technology and Morse code to communicate with other ships asking for assistance such as, when the Titanic struck an ice burg in 1912 and sank. During the First World War radio technology was halted in the public sector. Radio at the time was used by military officials to communicate with soldiers and those not in the war as the government felt it could be used by spies to gain an advantage. The first government owned radio in the United States was KDKA, which began by airing results for Harding-Cox presidency (Taylor 427). Thereafter, many radio stations emerged and encompassed various forms of entertainment including music, drama and news. Radios effect on the culture of the United States is perhaps the greatest technological advancement of the 20th century. Radio re-configured values, helped usher in new forms of music, played a role in the creation of the star system of the entertainment industry and played a large role in expanding and strengthening the economy. The 1920s saw the improvements and advancements of radio technology in the United States. During this period, many radio stations increased their transmission capacities in order for their signals to be received in a wider area (Spiker 5). Larger studios were constructed, improvements made to the transmission equipment, and microphones were developed to create better sound quality. In addition, there were improvements made on receiving equipment used by listeners such as the vacuum tube. In early 1920s, there were no government regulations regarding frequency use (Fredrick 130). All stations were to operate at the same frequency. However, as the number of radio stations increased, some stations tried to operate at frequencies higher than the expected one. This created the need for the government to step in and the FRC (Federal Radio Commission) was established in 1926 followed by the Radio Act of 1927 (Messere). With the establishment of the FRC and the Radio Act of 1927 many regulations were enacted to reduce or eliminate interference so listeners could enjoy their favorite programs. Radio technology created conflicts between tradition and modernity in America. Radio stations were competing for listeners and introduced as many programs that they felt could interest as many listeners as possible (Lafollette 18). Many of the programs overlapped, and listeners were left in a state of confusion with the overlapping programs. To complicate things further listeners tried to maintain their traditional way but found that radio programs contradicted this and showed a more modern way of doing things. For example, while people loved and listened to traditional songs over the radio, the radios introduced modern music played using modern technology that were more interesting to listeners than the traditional music (Fredrick 137). This left listeners conflicted and questioning whether to keep to their traditional beliefs or move in to a more modern way of doing things. The 1920s radio entertainment lead...
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Messere, Fritz. “Welcome to the Federal Radio Commission Archives” Fritz Messere, Associate Professor of Broadcasting and Mass Communications at State University of New York – Oswego.1997. Web. 22 Mar.2013
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Taylor, Tim. “Music and the Rise of Radio in 1920s America: Technological Imperialism, Socialization, and the Transformation of Intimacy.” Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television 22.4 (2002): 425-443. Print.
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