1901 Guglielmo Marconi develops first wireless transmitter to send telegraphic sounds across Atlantic

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The History of Radio
1901 Guglielmo Marconi develops first wireless transmitter to send telegraphic sounds across Atlantic

1906 Dr. Lee DeForest=the father of American radio who develops vacuum tubing that allows for clear

transmission of voices

1910 Congress requires all ships to have a “wireless” on board

1912 first radio licenses required to regulate airwaves

Titantic might have lost all passengers otherwise

1920 KDKA first commercial broadcast on Nov.2 of the election of President Harding (defeated Cox)

The station was in Pittsburgh, Pa and still exists today (only K east of Mississippi)

1921 Westinghouse founds RCA to produce radios 50,000 in 1921  600,000 in 1922  Radio

ownership is 90% by 1929

1926 NBC network founded by David Sarnoff of RCA to transmit programming to affiliates

1927 CBS founded as competitor to NBC under Bill Paley

NBC goes coast-to-coast with the coverage of the Rose Bowl; form Blue and Red network which are two dominant networks in radio throughout the 1930s

1933 FM technology developed but not employed much for decades

1934 FCC founded by the Federal Communication Act of 1934 which established regulations on radio as part of the public domain (the airwaves were considered public property); it established guidelines for decency as well as the Rule of 7 which allowed for a single company to own only 7 newspapers and 7 radio stations, later only 7 television stations as well

1935 Radio Press War ends as the Wire Services are forced to provide news to radio stations in case of


1937 Von Hindenburg crash live broadcast

1938 Oct.30 War of the Worlds by Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater of the Air

1930s President Roosevelt uses radio for his “fireside chats” to communicate directly with public

Golden Era of Radio programming

1943 NBC Blue Network deemed monopolistic; had to be sold and became ABC

1947 Bell labs develop the transistor radio which makes radios smaller and more portable (car/garage)

1950s radio suffers from competition with television; disc jockeys (djs) become popular playing recorded

Music; Top 40 format trend begins to spread as typical radio format

1964 AM/FM repeats are limited by the government forcing FM stations to transmit separate content

1967 Public Broadcasting Act is passed which leads to formation of NPR in the 1970s

1970s the switch to FM occurs dominated by album-oriented rock music by the end of the decade

1987 repeal of the fairness doctrine which no longer required “fair and equal” time to both sides

1990s news and talk radio gains immense popularity with hosts like Rush Limbaugh

Internet radio emerges as a way to stream radio signal

1996 the Federal Communications Act deregulates ownership

2002 Satellite radio begins service

2004 podcasting technology allows widespread use of radio recording for later listening

2012 Hurricane Sandy devastates the East coast; millions turn to radio coverage of the event for news


Internal Factors that can be controlled by the station

  1. Commercial load

  2. DJ talent

  3. Format

External factors that are beyond control of the station

  1. Size of the market

  2. Competitors in the format

  3. Demographic make-up of the market

Arbitron: company that compiles the ratings for radio station listeners

Less precise than tv ratings which are actually hooked up to your television. Radio stats based on a journal done by the listener since people own so many different radios
Recent Threats to radio

  1. i-pod

  2. iTunes and online streaming such as Grooveshark and Spotify

  3. splintered audience so less Top 40 prominence

Potential Future Growth for radio

  1. satellite radio (diff than AM or FM bandwith) service subscription fee

  2. HD radio: multiple signals embedded so that you can broadcast several types of content on one license 92.9.1 / 92.9.2 / 92.9.3

  3. internet radio: online streaming live – Pandora, iHeart radio

  4. podcasting : available to be listened to at the audience’s convenience

  5. cell phone apps: ability to listen to radio on phone

Will radio die out?

Current statistics suggest it is unlikely: 2-3 hours per day according to many researchers; 2nd behind tv as most popular media format

  1. Free

  2. Easy / Convenient

  3. Local

  4. Variety of popular formats


  1. Rock and its many offshoots

  2. Country

  3. Top 40 / Contemporary Hits

  4. Urban / hip hop

  5. Adult Pop/ Adult Contemporary Hits

  6. Hispanic

  7. News talk

  8. Sports/ sports talk

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