Essays academic service


An introduction to the evolution of commercial radio

Identify the major technological changes in radio as a medium since its inception.

Describe the effects of networks and conglomerates on radio programming and culture. At its most basic level, radio is communication through the use of radio waves.

This includes radio used for person-to-person communication as well as radio used for mass communication. Both of these functions are still practiced today. Although most people associate the term radio with radio stations that broadcast to the general public, radio wave technology is used in everything from television to cell phones, making it a primary conduit for person-to-person communication.

The Invention of Radio Guglielmo Marconi is often credited as the inventor of radio. As a young man living in Italy, Marconi read a biography of Hienrich Hertz, who had written and experimented with early forms of wireless transmission. He saw the potential for the technology and approached the Italian government for support. When the government showed no interest in his ideas, Marconi moved to England and took out a patent on his device.

Rather than inventing radio from scratch, however, Marconi essentially combined the ideas and experiments of other people to make them into a useful communications tool Coe, 1996.

In fact, long-distance electronic communication has existed since the middle of the 19th century. The telegraph communicated messages through a series of long and short clicks. Cables across the Atlantic Ocean connected even the far-distant United States and England using this technology. When Marconi popularized wireless technology, contemporaries initially viewed it as a way to allow the telegraph to function in places that could not be connected by cables.

Early radios acted as devices for naval ships to communicate with other ships and with land stations; the focus was on person-to-person communication. Broadcasting Arrives The technology needed to build a radio transmitter and receiver was relatively simple, and the knowledge to build such devices soon reached the public.

Amateur radio operators quickly crowded the airwaves, broadcasting messages to anyone within range and, by 1912, incurred government regulatory measures that required licenses and limited broadcast ranges for radio operation White. Wireless technology made radio as it is known today possible, but its modern, practical function as a mass communication medium had been the domain of other technologies for some time.

As early as the 1880s, people relied on telephones to transmit news, music, church sermons, and weather reports. In Budapest, Hungary, for example, a subscription an introduction to the evolution of commercial radio allowed individuals to listen to news reports and fictional stories on their telephones White.

Around this time, telephones also transmitted opera performances from Paris to London. In 1909, this innovation emerged in the United States as a pay-per-play phonograph service in Wilmington, Delaware White.

This service allowed subscribers to listen to specific music recordings on their telephones White. In 1906, Massachusetts resident Reginald Fessenden initiated the first radio transmission of the human voice, but his efforts did not develop into a useful application Grant, 1907.

De Forest gave nightly broadcasts of music and news until World War I halted all transmissions for private citizens White. Many of these stations developed regular programming that included religious sermons, sports, and news White.

The WGY players created their own scripts and performed them live on air. This same groundbreaking group also made the first known attempt at television drama in 1928 McLeod, 1998. However, these stations did not advertise in a way that the modern radio listener would recognize. However, the social impact of radio was such that within a few years advertising was readily accepted on radio programs.

Advertising agencies even began producing their own radio programs named after their products. Groups of stations that carried syndicated network programs along with a variety of local shows soon formed its Red and Blue networks.

Although early network programming focused mainly on music, it soon developed to include other programs. Among these early innovations was the variety show. This format generally featured several different performers introduced by a host who segued between acts. Variety shows included styles as diverse as jazz and early country music. Nonprofit groups such as churches and schools operated another third of the stations.

COM-336 History of Radio, Television and Internet

As the number of radio stations outgrew the available frequencies, interference became problematic, and the government stepped into the fray. A year after its creation, the FRC reallocated station bandwidths to correct interference problems.

The organization reserved 40 high-powered channels, setting aside 37 of these for network affiliates. The remaining 600 lower-powered bandwidths went to stations that had to share the frequencies; this meant that as one station went off the air at a designated time, another one began broadcasting in its place. At the same time, nonprofit broadcasting fell to only 2 percent of the market McChesney, 1992. In protest of the favor that the 1927 Radio Act showed toward commercial broadcasting, struggling nonprofit radio broadcasters created the National Committee on Education by Radio to lobby for more outlets.

Basing their argument on the notion that the airwaves—unlike newspapers—were a public resource, they asserted that groups working for the public good should take precedence over commercial interests. Because many associate the 1930s with the struggles of the Great Depression, it may seem contradictory that such a fruitful cultural occurrence arose during this decade. However, radio lent itself to the era. Radio also presented an easily accessible form of media that existed on its own schedule.

  • These shows featured a central host—for whom the show was often named—and a series of sketch comedies, interviews, and musical performances, not unlike contemporary programs such as Saturday Night Live;
  • America in the Twenties and Thirties;
  • Many of these stations developed regular programming that included religious sermons, sports, and news White;
  • Their content also diverged—at the time markedly—from that of U.

As the networks became more adept at generating profits, their broadcast selections began to take on a format that later evolved into modern television programming. Serial dramas and programs that focused on domestic work aired during the day when many women were at home. Advertisers targeted this demographic with commercials for domestic needs such as soap Museum.

Because they were often sponsored by soap companies, daytime serial dramas soon became known as soap operas.

  • The Invention of Radio Guglielmo Marconi is often credited as the inventor of radio;
  • This change required the purchase of new equipment by both consumers and radio stations, thus greatly slowing the widespread adoption of FM radio.

Some modern televised soap operas, such as Guiding Light, which ended in 2009, actually began in the 1930s as radio serials Hilmes, 1999. These shows featured a central host—for whom the show was often named—and a series of sketch comedies, interviews, and musical performances, not unlike contemporary programs such as Saturday Night Live.

Performed live before a studio audience, the programs thrived on a certain flair and spontaneity. These shows featured major Hollywood actors recreating movies or acting out adaptations of literature Hilmes. Instant News By the late 1930s, the popularity of radio news broadcasts had surpassed that of newspapers. For example, the infant son of famed aviator Charles Lindbergh was kidnapped and murdered in 1932. Radio networks set up mobile stations that covered events as they unfolded, broadcasting nonstop for several days and keeping listeners updated on every detail while tying them emotionally to the outcome Brown, 1998.

As recording technology advanced, reporters gained the ability to record events in the field and bring them back to the studio to broadcast over the airwaves. In 1937, the Hindenburg blimp exploded into flames while attempting to land, killing 37 of its passengers.

  • In protest of the favor that the 1927 Radio Act showed toward commercial broadcasting, struggling nonprofit radio broadcasters created the National Committee on Education by Radio to lobby for more outlets;
  • By the end of the 1970s, radio stations were beginning to play specific formats, and the progressive radio of the previous decade had become difficult to find Douglas, 2004;
  • The organization quickly began enacting influential radio decisions;
  • America in the Twenties and Thirties;
  • Grove Press, 2000 , 48.

Morrison was already on the scene to record the descent, capturing the fateful crash. The entire event was later broadcast, including the sound of the exploding blimp, providing listeners with an unprecedented emotional connection to a national disaster. Murrow, a journalist working in England at the time, broadcast firsthand accounts of the German bombing of London, giving Americans a sense of the trauma and terror that the English were experiencing at the outset of the war Horten, 2002.

By 1945, radio news had become so efficient and pervasive that when Roosevelt died, only his wife, his children, and Vice President Harry S. Truman were aware of it before the news was broadcast over the public airwaves Brown. The organization quickly began enacting influential radio decisions.

Among these was the 1938 decision to limit stations to 50,000 watts of broadcasting power, a ceiling that remains in effect today Cashman.

The Invention of Radio

Another significant regulation with long-lasting influence was the Fairness Doctrine. This tenet came from the long-held notion that the airwaves were a public resource, and that they should thus serve the public in some way. Although the regulation remained in effect until 1987, the impact of its core concepts are still debated.

This chapter will explore the Fairness Doctrine and its impact in greater detail in a later section. They broadcast programs such as School of the Air and College of the Air as well as roundtable and town hall forums. In 1940, the FCC reserved a set of frequencies in the lower range of the FM radio spectrum for public education purposes as part of its regulation of the new spectrum.

The reservation of FM frequencies gave educational stations a boost, but FM proved initially unpopular due to a setback in 1945, when the FCC moved the FM bandwidth to a higher set of frequencies, ostensibly to avoid problems with interference Longley, 1968. This change required the purchase of new equipment by both consumers and radio stations, thus greatly slowing the widespread adoption of FM radio.

One enduring anomaly in the field of educational stations has been the Pacifica Radio network. From the outset, Pacifica aired newer classical, jazz, and folk music along with lectures, discussions, and interviews with public artists and intellectuals.

Another important innovation on the fringes of the radio dial during this time was the growth of border stations.

Because the stations broadcast at 250,000 watts and higher, their listening range covered much of North America. Their content also diverged—at the time markedly—from that of U.

John Brinkley started station XERF in Del Rio, Mexico, after being forced to shut down his station in Nebraska, and he used the border station in part to promote a dubious goat gland operation that supposedly cured sexual impotence Dash, 2008. Besides the goat gland promotion, the station and others like it often carried music, like country and western, that could not be heard on regular network radio.

Later border station disc jockeys, such as Wolfman Jack, were instrumental in bringing rock and roll music to a wider audience Rudel, 2008. This changed in the late 1940s and early 1950s as television became popular. A 1949 poll of people who had seen television found that almost half of them believed that radio was doomed Gallup, 1949. Television sets had come on the market by the late 1940s, and by 1951, more Americans were watching television during prime time than ever Bradley.

However, these respected radio dramas were the last of their kind Cox, 2002. Although radio was far from doomed by television, its Golden Age was. Transition to Top 40 As radio networks abandoned the dramas and variety shows that had previously sustained their formats, the soundscape was left to what radio could still do better than any other mass medium: With advertising dollars down and the emergence of better recording formats, it made good business sense for radio to focus on shows that played prerecorded music.

As strictly music stations began to rise, new innovations to increase their profitability appeared. Robert Storz and Gordon McLendon began adapting existing radio stations to fit this new format with great success. In 1956, the creation of limited playlists further refined the format by providing about 50 songs that disc jockeys played repeatedly every day.

By the early 1960s, many stations had developed limited playlists of only 30 songs Walker, 2001. Another musically fruitful innovation came with the increase of An introduction to the evolution of commercial radio disc jockeys and programs created for Black audiences.

Because its advertisers had nowhere to go in a media market dominated by White performers, Black radio became more common on the AM dial. Early Black disc jockeys even began improvising rhymes over the music, pioneering techniques that later became rap and hip-hop.

This new personality-driven style helped bring early rock and roll to new audiences Walker, 2001.