Make your own free website on


History of Radio

Contact Me
Sir Arthur C. Clarke
The Art of Living
History of TV
Old Video Accessories
History of Radio
Story Boards
Visual Arts 2
Visual Arts
Aura Photography
Near Death Experiences - NDE's
King Raawana
Civilisation in Sri Lanka


James Clerk Maxwell 1831-1879

Maxwell was born in Edinburgh, Scotland and was the founder of electromagnetic theory. He built upon the works of Faraday, Thomson, Coulombe and Ampere - and eventually developed a field theory of electromagnetic phenomena. Maxwell suggested that when a current began to flow, it caused a series of vortices in the surrounding Aether. The crux of his work stated that only in a steady state can a magnetic field exist without causing an electric field - and vice-versa.

Mahlon Loomis 1826-1886

Born in New York, and a dentist by profession Mahlon Loomis became interested in electricity and conducted several experiments on the effects of electricity on plant growth. His work on wireless communication - although not actually radio communication - could well have been more important had it not been for the economy of the day. He never had the financial backing to continue his work.
Among his other experiments were attempts to replace batteries with electricity taken from the atmosphere - he planned to fly kites attached to long wires to gather this electricity.

Thomas Alva Edison 1847-1931

Edison was born in Milan, Ohio in 1847. A prolific inventor - in 1879 he developed the first commercially practical incandescent lamp. By 1882 he had developed a central power station for his lamps - necessary before they would become widely used. He invented the Stock Ticker, alkaline storage batteries, the carbon microphone and of course, the phonograph. In all, over 1000 of his inventions held patents - including a method of wireless telegraphy based on magnetic induction. 1847-1931

Thomas A. Edison in his laboratory.

Edison was born in Milan, Ohio in 1847. A prolific inventor - in 1879 he developed the first commercially practical incandescent lamp. By 1882 he had developed a central power station for his lamps - necessary before they would become widely used. He invented the Stock Ticker, alkaline storage batteries, the carbon microphone and of course, the phonograph. In all, over 1000 of his inventions held patents - including a method of wireless telegraphy based on magnetic induction.

Edwin Armstrong 1890-1954

Born in New York City, Armstrong graduated from Columbia University in 1913, and received his first patent for his regenerative receiver in 1914.
Without a doubt, Edwin Armstrong did more to advance the art of radio than any other inventor. Every radio and television receiver uses Armstrong's inventions. His list of patents and inventions includes regeneration, the superheterodyne receiver, and wide-band FM. During war time, Armstrong freely gave use of his patents to the military. From 1931 his efforts went into developing and promoting FM, and defending his inventions against suits by DeForest. Many years later almost every suit was decided in favor of Armstrong. Armstrong committed suicide in 1954.

Lee DeForest 1873-1961

Born in Council Bluffs, Iowa to a Congregational minister, Lee Deforest made his greatest contribution to radio and electronics with his invention of the Triode. Although he flooded the patent office with ideas, only a relative few of his over 300 patents proved important.
In the early years of radio he installed many wireless transmitting stations, and his became one of the most famous of the early companies. His business sense however, was lacking, and he was taken advantage of by several associates.
He concentrated his efforts on moving pictures in the 1920's - claiming the field of radio was getting too crowded. Later years found him suing other inventors - notably Howard Armstrong - for patent infringement.

John Ambrose Fleming 1849-1945

Fleming was born in Lancaster, England and studied electricity and mathematics under James Clerk Maxwell. He served a number of electric lighting companies as advisor and engineer, and was a scientific consultant for the Marconi Company from 1899-1905. Besides his work in theory, he was also active in the practical application of his work. He made improvements in electric lamps, generators, and many pieces of radio-telegraph apparatus.
In 1904, while searching for a better detector for wireless signals he recalled his work for Edison in the early 1880's - and the phenomenon known as the Edison Effect. He fashioned a lamp with a metal cylinder surrounding the filament, ran wires to the outside of the envelope - and started the industry of electronics with his electrical 'valve'.

Heinrich Hertz 1857-1894


Hertz was born in Hamburg, Germany and attended the University of Berlin. In 1883 he became an instructor at Kiel University - where he first studied the work of Maxwell.
Maxwell had theorized that electric fields in the form of waves propagated at the speed of light rather than instantaneously. To prove this, Hertz conducted a series of experiments between 1886 and 1889 involving measuring the strength of oscillations at differing points along a sheet of zinc. These experiments confirmed the existence of waves, and that these waves acted identical to light in regards to refraction and polarization. In short, Hertz had proven the theory of Maxwell that light itself was a form of electromagnetic radiation.

Nikola Tesla 1856-1943

Tesla was born in Croatia, but moved to the United States in 1884. Following his move he worked for Thomas Edison designing dynamos, and then established his own laboratory in 1887.
Tesla's work laid the foundations for large scale electric power generation and transmission. Tesla experimented with high frequency alternators and invented the 'Tesla Coil' as a means for even higher voltages. His work included the forunner of the neon and fluorescent lights, he predicted radio as a means of communication in 1893, and spent a large amount of time in an effort to transmit electric power without wires. He built the largest Tesla coil ever made at Colorado Springs - a twelve million volt device which drew an arc up to 135 feet in length.
Other predictions by Tesla included radar in 1917, and radio services of pictures, time, and weather information in 1900.

Karl Ferdinand Braun 1850-1918


Born in Germany, Braun shared the Nobel Prize in physics with Marconi in 1909 for their service in developing wireless telegraphy. His wireless equipment utilized resonant circuits in both the transmitter and receiver circuits, greatly improving upon Marconi's original system.
Braun later introduced the use of the crystal detector in receivers. His work on observing waveforms using a phosphor-coated screen paved the way for cathode ray tubes, and eventually the television picture tube.

Edouard Branly 1844-1940

A French physicist and physician who's studies of nerve impulses led him to develop the 'coherer' as a device for detecting radio signals. His device was a glass tube filled with metal filings and two electrodes. The device decreased in resistance in the presence of electrical energy, as the filings stuck together - or 'cohered'. Many coherers utilized a small hammer-like device to tap the tube after each signal, breaking up the filings and increasing the resistance in preparation for the next signal. Marconi utilized the coherer in most of his wireless station in the early 1900's, and openly credited Branly for his invention.

Reginald Aubrey Fessenden 1866-1932


Fessenden, a Canadian born in East Bolton, Quebec worked as a tester and Chemist in the Edison Machine works of New York, and later at Edison's laboratory in New Jersey. Among his patents were the electrolytic detector - far more sensitive than other early methods of detection, and the process of 'heterodyning' a signal - mixing it with another frequency to create a 'sum' and 'difference' of the original frequency.
Personally, he is said to have been a bit arrogant - using phrases such as 'Don't try to think - you haven't the brain for it'.
He obtained over 500 patents in his lifetime, many for advances in the art of radio

Joseph Henry 1797-1878

Henry Magnet 

Joseph Henry served as the first director of the Smithsonian Institution from 1846-1878. He was born in Albany, New York, and attended Albany Academy - even though his primary and secondary education were sub-standard. Upon reading a popular book on science he determined to make that his work, and began to study to gain entrance to the Academy.
Henry's experiments with electromagnets allowed Faraday and other to have improved tools for their research. He greatly improved upon the electromagnet with the use of insulated wires, and is credited with having discovered inductive resistance. In fact, the unit used to measure inductive resistance is the 'henry', in his honor.
Henry also invented an electric motor in 1829, a telegraph in 1831, and the relay in 1835. He went on to work with transformers and non-inductive windings.

Werner Siemens 1816-1892


Born into a family of engineers and inventors, Werner and his younger brother William developed the Dynamo - a device which converted mechanical energy into electrical energy by using 'self excitation', eliminating the use of permanent magnets. This led to the birth of the commercial power industry.
Werner also invented an electroplating process, and a method of insulating electrical cable suitable for underwater telegraph cables.

David Sarnoff 1891-1971


Sarnoff was born in Russia, and moved to New York City as a boy. He worked as a telegraph operator in the Marconi company, and some accounts have him working at the key for three days straight during the Titanic disaster - although there is discussion of this being an exaggeration.
There is no doubt that Sarnoff was a driven man, and he was a great figure in the growth of broadcasting. Sarnoff became the general manager of RCA in 1921, and quickly became its vice-president. He saw the company through the rise of radio broadcasting, supervised the creation of the first network (NBC) and the move into television. During World War II he was a communications consultant, and for his service was named as a Brigadier General.

Michael Idvorski Pupin 1858-1935


Michael Pupin was born in Hungary and came to the United States in 1874. He attended Columbia University and the University of Berlin. He was a professor of electromechanics at Columbia for 30 years, from 1901 to 1931. Pupin invented and improved upon many devices for telegraphy and telephony, including the use of inductors in telephone lines to improve the audio quality. His work with X-rays identified 'secondary radiation' - matter struck by X rays was stimulated to emit more X rays. He studied the behavior of vacuum tubes at low pressure, and invented an electrical resonator. A total of 34 patents were awarded for his inventions.

Charles D. Herrold 1875-1948


Charles David Herrold was born in Illinois, and began his wireless work in San Jose, California. He was an inventor, teacher, and is thought by many to be the "Father of Broadcasting". 'Doc' Herrold was transmitting voice messages very early in the history of radio - as early as 1909 from the 'Herrold College of Wireless and Engineering' in San Jose. He had a regular schedule of transmitting between 1909 and 1917, and claimed to have coined the term 'Broadcasting'. In 1915, he broadcast to the Worlds Fair from 50 miles away, providing news and music. He patented the "Arc Fone" in 1915.

Frank Conrad 1874-1941


Frank Conrad's amateur radio station 8XK, located in his garage in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania was one of the seeds from which broadcasting grew. 8XK was later licensed as KDKA. His early experience with radio included building sensitive receivers to hear the Naval Observatory time signals from Arlington, VA. Conrad left school in the 7th grade to work. He was transferred to the testing department at Westinghouse shortly after his employment in 1890. He became general engineer in 1904 and assistant chief engineer in 1921. He supervised the development of transmitting equipment, among other duties. He received an honorary degree of Doctor of Science from the University of Pittsburgh in 1928.

Sir Joseph John Thomson 1856-1940


Born in Cheetham Hill, England, Joseph Thomson attended Cambridge University and maintained an association with Cambridge for most of his life. In 1906 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on the conduction of electricity by gasses. His work with X-rays and cathode ray tubes convinced him that cathode rays were actually charged particles -electrons- and that their mass was roughly 1,000 times smaller than hydrogen ions.

Alexander Graham Bell 1847-1922

    Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922)  

Bell was born in Scottland, and was home schooled until the age of ten. As a boy, his experiments with speech and sound reproduction led to a lifelong interest in the field.
He was granted a patent in 1874 on a method of sending two or more telegraphic messages on the same wire, at the same time. The next year, as a result of an accident, words to the effect of "Watson - come here, I want you" were reproduced electronically by his 'telephone'. In August of 1876 the distance spanned by telephone was 8 miles, and 'long distance' became a reality by the end of that year, as he communicated over 143 miles.

In 1880 Bell achieved the first wireless transmission of speech - using his invention -- the 'photophone' -- to transmit words on a beam of light.

Samuel Finley Breese Morse 1791-1872


By the age of 21, Samuel Morse showed an interest in electrical experimentation. A shipboard conversation in 1832 planted the seed for a method of telegraphy, and by 1835 the basic physical elements of a relay system were in place. A patent was issued in 1840, and the U.S. Congress gave him a grant for $30,000 to construct a line between Washington and Baltimore. The first message on this line was sent on May 24th, 1844.


The "Morse Code" was invented by Morse, and his assistant Alfred Vail about 1840. The original code was simplified in 1851, and is called the 'Continental', or 'International' Morse code.

Reginald Aubrey Fessenden 1866-1932


Fessenden, a Canadian born in East Bolton, Quebec worked as a tester and Chemist in the Edison Machine works of New York, and later at Edison's laboratory in New Jersey. Among his patents were the electrolytic detector - far more sensitive than other early methods of detection, and the process of 'heterodyning' a signal - mixing it with another frequency to create a 'sum' and 'difference' of the original frequency.
Personally, he is said to have been a bit arrogant - using phrases such as 'Don't try to think - you haven't the brain for it'.
He obtained over 500 patents in his lifetime, many for advances in the art of radio.



Guglielmo Marconi – Biography



Guglielmo Marconi Guglielmo Marconi was born at Bologna, Italy, on April 25, 1874, the second son of Giuseppe Marconi, an Italian country gentleman, and Annie Jameson, daughter of Andrew Jameson of Daphne Castle in the County Wexford, Ireland. He was educated privately at Bologna, Florence and Leghorn. Even as a boy he took a keen interest in physical and electrical science and studied the works of Maxwell, Hertz, Righi, Lodge and others. In 1895 he began laboratory experiments at his father's country estate at Pontecchio where he succeeded in sending wireless signals over a distance of one and a half miles.

In 1896 Marconi took his apparatus to England where he was introduced to Mr. (later Sir) William Preece, Engineer-in-Chief of the Post Office, and later that year was granted the world's first patent for a system of wireless telegraphy. He demonstrated his system successfully in London, on Salisbury Plain and across the Bristol Channel, and in July 1897 formed The Wireless Telegraph & Signal Company Limited (in 1900 re-named Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Company Limited). In the same year he gave a demonstration to the Italian Government at Spezia where wireless signals were sent over a distance of twelve miles. In 1899 he established wireless communication between France and England across the English Channel. He erected permanent wireless stations at The Needles, Isle of Wight, at Bournemouth and later at the Haven Hotel, Poole, Dorset.

In 1900 he took out his famous patent No. 7777 for "tuned or syntonic telegraphy" and, on an historic day in December 1901, determined to prove that wireless waves were not affected by the curvature of the Earth, he used his system for transmitting the first wireless signals across the Atlantic between Poldhu, Cornwall, and St. John's, Newfoundland, a distance of 2100 miles.

Between 1902 and 1912 he patented several new inventions. In 1902, during a voyage in the American liner "Philadelphia", he first demonstrated "daylight effect" relative to wireless communication and in the same year patented his magnetic detector which then became the standard wireless receiver for many years. In December 1902 he transmitted the first complete messages to Poldhu from stations at Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, and later Cape Cod, Massachusetts, these early tests culminating in 1907 in the opening of the first transatlantic commercial service between Glace Bay and Clifden, Ireland, after the first shorter-distance public service of wireless telegraphy had been established between Bari in Italy and Avidari in Montenegro. In 1905 he patented his horizontal directional aerial and in 1912 a "timed spark" system for generating continuous waves.

In 1914 he was commissioned in the Italian Army as a Lieutenant being later promoted to Captain, and in 1916 transferred to the Navy in the rank of Commander. He was a member of the Italian Government mission to the United States in 1917 and in 1919 was appointed Italian plenipotentiary delegate to the Paris Peace Conference. He was awarded the Italian Military Medal in 1919 in recognition of his war service.

During his war service in Italy he returned to his investigation of short waves, which he had used in his first experiments. After further tests by his collaborators in England, an intensive series of trials was conducted in 1923 between experimental installations at the Poldhu Station and in Marconi's yacht "Elettra" cruising in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, and this led to the establishment of the beam system for long distance communication. Proposals to use this system as a means of Imperial communications were accepted by the British Government and the first beam station, linking England and Canada, was opened in 1926, other stations being added the following year.

In 1931 Marconi began research into the propagation characteristics of still shorter waves, resulting in the opening in 1932 of the world's first microwave radiotelephone link between the Vatican City and the Pope's summer residence at Castel Gandolfo. Two years later at Sestri Levante he demonstrated his microwave radio beacon for ship navigation and in 1935, again in Italy, gave a practical demonstration of the principles of radar, the coming of which he had first foretold in a lecture to the American Institute of Radio Engineers in New York in 1922.

He has been the recipient of honorary doctorates of several universities and many other international honours and awards, among them the Nobel Prize for Physics, which in 1909 he shared with Professor Karl Braun, the Albert Medal of the Royal Society of Arts, the John Fritz Medal and the Kelvin Medal. He was decorated by the Tsar of Russia with the Order of St. Anne, the King of Italy created him Commander of the Order of St. Maurice and St. Lazarus, and awarded him the Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown of Italy in 1902. Marconi also received the freedom of the City of Rome (1903), and was created Chevalier of the Civil Order of Savoy in 1905. Many other distinctions of this kind followed. In 1914 he was both created a Senatore in the Italian Senate and app ointed Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order in England. He received the hereditary title of Marchese in 1929.

In 1905 he married the Hon. Beatrice O'Brien, daughter of the 14th Baron Inchiquin, the marriage being annulled in 1927, in which year he married the Countess Bezzi-Scali of Rome. He had one son and two daughters by his first and one daughter by his second wife. His recreations were hunting, cycling and motoring.

Marconi died in Rome on July 20, 1937.

Guglielmo Marconi

The "Father of Radio"

Radio waves were known as 'Hertzian Waves' when Marconi began experimenting in 1894. A few years earlier Heinrich Hertz had produced and detected the waves across his laboratory. Marconi's achievement was to produce and detect the waves over long distances, laying the foundations for what today we know as radio.

The family home was his Italian father's villa near Bologna. His Irish mother often took Guglielmo to visit relatives in England and his formal education suffered. But in Bologna their neighbour, the distinguished physicist Professor Righi, interested the young Guglielmo in electricity generally and the work of Hertz in particular.

Marconi repeated Hertz's experiments in the villa attics. Hertzian waves were produced by sparks in one circuit and detected in another circuit a few metres away. Marconi could soon detect signals over several kilometres and this led him to try and interest the Italian Ministry of Posts and Telegraphs.

He was unsuccessful, but in 1896 his cousin, Henry Jameson-Davis, arranged an introduction to Nyilliam Preece, Engineer-in-Chief of the British Post Office. Encouraging demonstrations in London and on Salisbury Plain followed and in 1897 Marconi obtained a patent and established the Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company
Limited, which opened the world's first radio factory at Chelmsford, England in 1898.

Experiments and demonstrations continued. Queen Victoria at Osborne House received bulletins by radio about the health of the Prince of Wales, convalescent on the Royal Yacht off Cowes. In 1901 signals were received across the Atlantic. Broadcasting as we know it was still in the future - the BBC was established in 1922 - but Marconi had achieved his aim of turning Hertz's laboratory demonstration into a practical means of communication and established in Chelmsford the Company which still bears his name.

TITANIC Tragedy Spawns Wireless Advancements

The tragedy of the RMS Titanic—loss of life numbering 1,500 passengers the night of April 14th, 1912—hardly compares to the greater tragedy that all 2,205 passengers of the Titanic might have been rescued.

Little has been said of the circumstance of the Californian, a passenger ship within sight, but ten miles away when the Titanic struck an iceberg. The Californian failed to acknowledge the distress flares of the Titanic, or turn on its own wireless. The passenger ship Carpathia, fifty-eight miles southeast of the stricken Titanic, responded to the distress call and rescued seven-hundred and five survivors adrift in lifeboats. The other fifteen-hundred passengers, having no lifeboats available to them, succumbed to the cold sea.

The sinking of the Titanic shocked the world. It was designed to be unsinkable. The pride of the White Star Line was the sister ship of the RMS Olympic, already having enjoyed great success and acceptance by the travel industry, including the setting of a speed record for the round trip from Southampton, England to New York.

The Titanic disaster generated an opportunity for many to profit on the meager details available mainly through the press releases from the Marconi Wireless Company and White Star Line offices in New York City. For many years it was reported that David Sarnoff, a wireless operator employed by the Marconi station at the top of the Wannamaker Building in New York City, was the main point of contact with the Titanic. This claim was heralded by the press in its eagerness to boost circulation. Supposedly, Sarnoff had also set up a wireless operating position in the Wannamaker store front window at the sidewalk level for the benefit of the viewing public. However, when the events were later researched, the role of David Sarnoff was greatly exaggerated by the press. It has been documented the main flow of Titanic traffic was handled by Robert Hunston and Walter Gray at the Marconi shore station in Cape Race, Newfoundland.

While wireless communication was being carried on by the Carpathia and the Marconi land station at Cape Race, these signals were being received by all who tuned to the frequency, i.e., by other ships, land stations and radio amateurs. Thus, messages heard by the recipients and repeated to the press and the public at large, confusion reigned. There was no single source of authoritative information outlining up to the minute facts of the Titanic status and rescue activity. As an example, the New York Evening Sun, received an anonymous wireless message of misinformation and so printed the headline, "ALL SAVED FROM TITANIC AFTER COLLISION WITH ICEBERG" The following day, the truth prevailed in the official messages from the rescue ship Carpathia, and then the enormity of the tragedy was realized. The reaction by the White Star Line officials to the false headline printed by the New York Evening Sun is repeated here, "Whoever sent this message under the circumstances, is guilty of the most reprehensible conduct".

Within weeks, the book publishing industry joined the bandwagon of hysteria to capitalize on the distress of the survivors and family members of those lost at sea. One book in particular, "The Sinking of the Titanic and Great Sea Disasters", published within weeks of the disaster was pedaled door to door with profitable success. Since then, it is estimated there have been over sixty books published on the subject of the Titanic.

Even the cinema in its infancy, capitalized by producing animated films of the Titanic sinking included such scenes as passengers’ struggle, fighting for space on the lifeboats. By the moral standards of 1912, the animation exceeded human tolerance to watch.

Since the sinking of the Titanic, stories, books, documentaries and films have emerged with variations of the facts. The fascinations about the Titanic continue to attract the human soul. The latest resurrection is the movie, "Titanic" released this past December. The movie by 20th Century Fox is a 235 million dollar production representing most accurately however, the events taking place prior to, during and following the Titanic disaster. With it too, is a great romance portrayed by the principal characters.

No money was spared by the studio in the search and presentation of the historical facts, or the recreation of scenery depicting the ship, including the grand saloon in all its splendor. The reproduction of the wireless room that played a most important role in the rescue of the 705 passengers was constructed in precise detail replicating the original.
The movie goes into extraordinary detail to include also, the replica of the motion picture cameras of the1912 period, to depict the filming of passengers gathered at the pier to embrace one another for the last time and to extend a wish for the "bon voyage", before embarking the Titanic. The reproduction of wireless equipment and the motion picture cameras shown here were constructed by Terry Reed and are remarkably accurate considering the lack of documentation and drawings of the original Titanic wireless
room. When the movie "Titanic" arrives at the local theater, one will be rewarded the most accurate documentary, well worth the admission price.

The importance of the wireless room of the Titanic after striking the iceberg, can best be described by the beginning of events, on the evening of April 14th, 1912. The night was clear and a starry one. The sea was calm. For the North Atlantic to be so smooth is a sailor’s dream. The Captain of the Titanic, E.J. Smith, apparently saw the opportunity to go full speed ahead in an attempt to break the ocean crossing speed record previously set by the sister ship, RMS Olympic.

Lookouts aboard the Titanic were posted in the "crow’s nest" to watch for icebergs ahead.
Prior to the collision with the iceberg, two wireless messages were received by Jack Phillips and Harold Bride, the Marconi Company wireless operators aboard the Titanic, warning of a field of icebergs ahead. The most critical report was received at 9:40 P.M. from the S.S. Mesnaba, stating the ice field position at 42*25’N, 50*30’W. The Amerika too, sent a message earlier at 11:00 A.M., advising of the ice field at the same coordinates. These reports were posted at the message center for the benefit of Captain Smith and his First Officer but were not acted on by either. The disaster of the Titanic was immanent. At 11:40 P.M., a lookout shouted the report of "iceberg dead ahead!!", repeatedly. The bridge attempted evasive action but the iceberg was struck. Although reverse propellers was attempted, it was too late. The inertia of the Titanic was too great and she continued to plunge ahead on a path that ripped open the sealable bulkheads on the starboard side, a rupture estimated to be about 300 feet in length. The invincible Titanic, having lost its sealable airtight bulkheads was no longer able to remain buoyant at its bow. Within only 150 minutes following the Titanic striking the iceberg, the bow submerged. At 2:10 A.M., in a final gulp, the massive stern raised up at an incredible angle of about 50 degrees and lurched to the watery grave, carrying with it the helpless 1500 passengers.

The chain of events that followed would by today’s standards be declared unbelievable, and lawless. One must be reminded however, the period of the early 1900’s was one of rapid growth of the luxury liner popularity. The wealthy pursued the 1st and 2nd class staterooms while great numbers of European immigrants crowded the 3rd class facilities.
The 1900’s was the explosive period of ocean voyages. The rules and regulations governing safety at sea had not yet been adopted for this rapidly growing industry.
Also, the countries whose shores were touched by ocean travel ports, lacked the expedient communications to review, foresee and call for international regulations.

Communication by wireless had just emerged. It was a scant seventeen years after Guglielmo Marconi discovered an application for Hertzian waves, and only fifteen years following the formation of the "Marconi’s Wireless Company, Ltd.", on Hall Street, Chelmsford, U.K. The installation of wireless on ocean going vessels began in the early 1900’s but the initial intent was profit from transmission and receipt of messages, mainly
commercial to compete with the already well established overland wire services. Thus, the Titanic, as with other ocean liners, were equipped with Marconi wireless systems primarily for handling of message traffic for revenue. The responsibility of the wireless
operator was transmitting and receiving messages known as "MarconiGrams". These included stock exchange quotations, business, private and news services. Wireless for signaling distress was incidental. The multitude of ships in categories other than passenger carrying, had no purpose to be equipped with wireless This was the sentiment of the period. The implication of wireless as a means of safety at sea, was remote. The absence of regulations governing both safety of life at sea and wireless, contributed to the Titanic disaster.

To understand the role of wireless on the night of April 14th, is to understand the primitive stage of wireless technology of the period. To begin with, the generated signal of the spark transmitter was blunt and broad. The spectrum it occupied was for example, all of today’s broadcast band and then some. The lopsided theory of the period demanded brute force power for the wireless signal to reach the point of reception. The receiver aboard the Titanic utilized a magnetic detector, and a galena crystal receiver, each having
a poor selectivity characteristic. Selectivity as a specification for receivers and band-width for transmitters were yet to be an established criteria. Hence, in close proximity operation of stations, whoever hit the air first, occupied most of the spectrum. Thus,
denying stations within close distance, the ability to communicate with others, unless a tuned circuit, such as a wave trap, was employed at the receiver to minimize the interfering signal.

The precise frequency of the Titanic and the Californian transmitters at the time of the incident is not known. Nevertheless, whatever the separation, poor receiver selectivity and the closeness of the two vessels about ten miles apart, allowed but one transmitter operation. Herein, because regulations and procedures were lacking governing the wireless operators, the inevitable blow to the Titanic was struck.

Aboard the Californian, the wireless operator Cyril Evans turned on his wireless to dispose of his routine traffic. But being only ten miles from the Titanic, the operator on duty on the Titanic advised Evans to "shut up", as he was interfering with traffic to Cape Race, Newfoundland. Evans complied. Being the lone wireless operator on the Californian and having worked a long day, Evans retired for the night.

Another demise for the Titanic. The Californian, within sight of the Titanic, found itself in the same ice field earlier in the evening at 11:00 P.M. Wisely, Captain Arthur Rostron of the Californian, ordered his ship to a complete halt, intending to wend his way out at daybreak.

The Titanic struck the iceberg at 11:40 P.M., less than a minute following the sighting of the iceberg by the lookout. But the "CQD", (General Call Distress) was not initiated until 12:15 A.M., thirty-five minutes later.

For the graphic representation of ship locations, please refer to Fig. (1). The Californian First Officer observed white flares shot into the sky from the Titanic. Unfortunately,
he assumed the flares to be part of a celebration aboard the Titanic as was the custom
during heavy partying. He also assumed the possibility he was observing shooting stars. Arbitrary discharge of flares white or colored in this period was acceptable as there were no regulations for governing the deployment of flares as a signaling tool. The
uncertainty of the First Officer nevertheless prompted him to use Morse Light Signal Lamp aimed at the Titanic, but he received no light signal response. The First Officer together with the Captain of the Californian made no attempt to awaken Evans and direct him to the transmitting key of the wireless to send a message of inquiry to the Titanic. For this one failure of the Californian, within sight of the Titanic, the fate of the 1,500 lives was doom. It was indeed one imbroglio after another. If assistance had been provided by the Californian, its Captain and crew could have enjoyed the proud distinction of rescuing all the passengers of the Titanic. Instead, the Captain and First Officer failed to react to the distress signals of the Titanic in accordance with the dictates of humanity..

The scene now changes. Fifty-eight miles to the southeast of the Titanic was the Carpathia. The wireless operator Thomas Cottam was preparing to retire when only by chance he initiated contact with the Titanic to advise its operator the Marconi land station at Cape Cod was attempting to contact him. The response from the Titanic was prompt with an urgent message naming itself in distress and requesting aid. The Carpathia turned its course 140 degrees and headed for the Titanic. Although there were eight ships over a wide area that heard the "CQD", and were racing to the scene, including the Frankfurt 140 miles away, the Carpathia but only 58 miles arrived at the scene first at 4:15 AM. On arrival, at the scene, there was no Titanic, only emptiness except for the lifeboats containing 705 passengers, to be exact. By 8:30 A.M., all survivors were picked up.

One can only imagine the despair of the Californian crew when in the morning were told of the Titanic sinking. They were there, a few miles away, but the last to know.

The details of the Titanic sinking is well documented by the minutes of the inquiries both of Great Britain and the United States. The most significant result of the disaster investigations was the call for an International Radio-Telegraphic Convention, to convene in London, July 5th, 1912, for the purpose of establishing regulations and procedures governing wireless services aboard ships and shore stations. Attended by sixty-five countries, regulations and procedures were enacted, some of which are still in effect today. Among these is the "SOS" as the universal call of distress as it was determined to be the simplest form of signaling to replace "CQD". The "Q" signals currently in use was also an outcome of the meeting.

The "Safety of Life at Sea" Conference was held in London, November 12, 1913, attended by the sixty-five countries. This conference was the turning point of communications as we know it today. Sweeping regulations were put into effect governing all ships at sea, whether motor propelled or under sail. Ocean going vessels carrying passengers to foreign ports were mandated to be fitted with a wireless communication system. Further, the ship’s wireless room and shore stations were to be manned twenty-four hours a day. Now the wireless room became the focal point on board all vessels having to abide by all new rules, regulations and laws, establishing safety of the passengers and ship as the first priority. This was a departure of wireless from its previous role as mainly a dispatcher of commercial traffic for profit. The value of wireless on board was now self evident.

The "Safety of Life at Sea" Conference concluded January 20, 1914. It was determined all countries having ocean going vessels carrying passengers were culpable for inadequate safety regulations on its vessels. The conference emphasized the necessity for a united action to revise the old laws and adapt them to new conditions. The benefit of these new regulations apply to this day. The conference ended the "do as you want" period on the high seas. Numbers of lifeboats and life-jackets required on board, procedures, officer and crew responsibility, wireless operator requirements and a host of other mandates were in the scope of the new regulations. It was agreed that three ships from the United States and Great Britain would be dispatched to the North Atlantic as ice patrol to advise other ships in the shipping lanes of ice field sightings. On board lighting was part of the regulations overhaul. Morse Light and other signaling methods, including rules governing the discharge of flares were all revamped. No longer were flares to be discharged in an arbitrary manner. Their use was restricted to an established set of rules related only to emergencies.

There might not have been any loss of life if the Titanic had not been operating by the archaic regulations established in 1894. Although the Titanic was certified to carry 3,500 passengers and crew, the lifeboat capacity on board was for only 1,200. In accordance with England’s old Board of Trade Regulations, the Titanic was indeed in compliance with the required number of lifeboats. The rules set forth eighteen years earlier stated, "16 lifeboats shall be carried for ships 10,000 tons and over". The Titanic was a 46,000 ton vessel! The number of lifeboats by the rules, was determined by tonnage, not by the number of passengers carried. The Titanic’s 16 lifeboats and 4 rafts were barely capable of supporting the 705 survivors. One of the lifeboats capsized during its launching, causing the loss of lives of those that occupied it.

Although the Titanic was magnificent in construction, referred to as a floating castle,
the investigation of the tragedy did reveal a great number of inadequacies. These included the improper bulkhead design, flawed steel side plates and rivets, navigation judgment errors, lack of emergency procedures, the improperly trained crew together with a host of other acts of negligence.

In all its bungling, the Titanic and its 1,500 passengers lost at sea, became the catalyst for the examination, reevaluation and the implementation of new marine regulations.

It has been over eighty-five years since the tragedy of the Titanic. Yet, we continue to rejoice in 705 lives saved. We continue its celebration, fascinated too by the mystery of where lies the broken hull. The loss of the other 1,500 lives however, was the real and needless tragedy.

Guglielmo Marconi arrived in New York City a few days earlier on the Lusitania, promptly went to the dock to greet the arriving Titanic survivors on the Carpathia and to interrogate his employee Harold Bride, the wireless operator. It was but a few days later the survivors of the Titanic presented Marconi a solid gold medal, in gratitude for Marconi’s wireless installation on board the Titanic credited for saving their lives. The survivor’s cries of "Ti dobbiamo la vita!" remained in the memory of Marconi that inspired his work in the design of a ship radio compass and a means of detecting unseen objects at sea. Without the wireless on board the Titanic, all 2,200 passengers might have perished, but leaving behind a terrible mystery of its disappearance to haunt us forever.

An earlier near disaster three years prior to the Titanic sinking should have been the lesson learned to promptly activate the "Safety of Life at Sea" Conference It was January 23, 1909, 5:30 A.M. when the luxury liner S.S. Republic left New York with 461 passengers bound for the sunny Mediterranean, was rammed amidships by the S.S. Florida in a dense fog about 26 miles southwest of the Nantucket Lightship. Fortunately, the S.S. Republic was equipped with a Marconi wireless system, the S.S. Florida was not. Following the impact, Jack Binns the Marconi operator aboard the Republic, sent the "CQD" distress signal to which many ships rushed to its aid. All 461 passengers except for five crew members, survived the disaster and were transferred to the S.S. Florida. The S.S. Republic having been abandoned and the S.S. Florida herself in danger of sinking transferred all passengers to the S.S. Baltic for the return trip to New York. The combined number of passengers of the two ships Republic and the Florida totaled 1650.
It was unfortunate there was no outcry following this near disaster calling for the review of International Maritime Regulations. The Titanic tragedy might have been averted.

The tragedy of the Titanic gave birth to a greater acclamation that could not have occurred otherwise. This is the legacy of the Titanic disaster. The on going news of the Titanic was closely followed by millions of people around the world. What better projection of the term "wireless" could there be as the news media printed the disaster story day after day for months? The mystique of the word "wireless" gave birth to a new generation of operator aspirants, together with the need for accelerated manufacture of wireless equipment to fulfill the demands of ship and shore installations.

Marconi recognized the need for operator training and established the Marconi Wireless Schools throughout the world, including the major cities of the United States.. The new regulations requiring wireless on board all ocean going vessels made it necessary for Marconi to step up production to meet this need. Hugo Gernsback also grasped this opportunity and established the world renowned Electro Importing Company on Fulton Street, New York City, mailing out 200 page catalogs world-wide. Gernsback enjoyed the prominence for many years as the largest supplier of wireless components. Lower Manhattan developed into the mecca of wireless manufacturing companies and supply houses. The radio amateur, already a seasoned in wireless, greeted a new flock of enthusiasts eager to join this elite group of pioneers, thereby further expanding the user market. The advent of the popular vacuum tube, (valve) 201A, justified the sophisticated
term, "radio".

The tragedy of the Titanic, occurring when it did during a period of slow growth of a new industry, was responsible for the jump start of the wireless, radio and electronics industry that today provides the greatest number of jobs in the history of civilization.


Radio before 1920.


Dot-dash radio telegraphy (primarily Marconi) was used experimentally

as early as 1897. By 1910, in general use for ship-to-shore communication. 

This was not "broadcasting" but point-to-point communication.  What

made broadcasting possible was the invention of the audion tube by

DeForest in 1906-the tube permitting modulation of sound.  Voices of

Caruso and Emmy Dustin were broadcast experimentally in 1910; from 1910

to 1917, there was considerable amateur experimentation with broadcasting

of various forms of program materials-chiefly talks, vocal, music,and

phonograph records. With U.S. entry into the war in 1917, all radio

was taken over by the U.S. Navy to prevent possible use by spies, and

the development of new equipment was protected from patent infringment

suits by government order.  Broadcasting was being regulated under

the Wireless Act of 1910.


This period marked the start of "regular" broadcasting; after the

government removed restrictions late in 1919. The Radio

Corporation of America was formed in 1919 as a patent pool to control

the use of the new equipment which had been invented during WWI, but

which was not able to be used unless all the conflicting patent owners

would permit. The make-up of RCA consisted of those companies that had

the key patents or would shortly buy them for wireless telegraphy.

They got the bonus of wireless telephony as well. 

Formal "broadcasting" is usually considered as beginning on

November 2, 1920, when Westinghouse's KDKA-Pittsburgh broadcast the

Harding-Cox election returns and inaugurated a daily schedule of

programs.  Throughout period, broadcasting was on an experimental,

non-commercial, amateur basis.



1923 - 1926


This was a transitional period; it saw the beginnings of broadcasting

on a commercial basis; it marked the development of new types of

equipment; it saw development of basic types of programs.  Chiefly, it

was a period in which some persons at least saw in broadcasting a

possible source of revenues-from sale of time, rather than the sale of

receiving sets.



1926 - 1930


Commercial radio became solidly established- particularly development

of networks, and the presentation of network programs by national advertisers.

This was the beginning of the great depression in the United States - a

depression which had its effect on programming and on the various forms

of advertising, but relatively little effect on broadcast revenues. 

The 1930-35 period was also the time of the greatest "idea" development

in the history of American radio programming-with respect to network

programs in particular.


Broadcasting in 1935 to 1941 saw radio revenues soaring to new

heights; and while not too many new program forms introduced,

older forms were polished and improved.


This period included World War II.  The nation had shifted, in December of

1941, from a threat-of-war situation into actual involvement.  The war

imposed as many hardships on broadcasters as it did upon

those engaged in other occupations; electronic concerns were shifted

to war production, with the result that broadcasting equipment, tubes,

etc. was in short supply; costs advanced; employees were drafted into

military service. 


On the other hand, both network and station revenues were strikingly

greater than in the prewar period; in 1944-45, no less than 70% above

the level of revenues in 1940-41. Some of this increase was the result

of inflation, but even so,1941 to 1945 was the big money-making time

for American radio.


1945-1952 was a highly important era in the history of

American radio and television.  It saw an enormous increase in the

total number of radio stations, the erection of 108 TV stations-and

the beginnings, at least, of a shift in importance from radio to

television, especially on the network level.  The transistor was

demonstrated in 1947 by Bell Labs.


Broadcasting from 1952 through the 1960's.


Earlier trends continued, but during this decade television became the

dominant mass medium as the freeze on licenses was lifted and a

70-channel UHF band was added.  The networks reached from coast-

to-coast and in 1953 the FCC approved the industry indorsed compatible

NTSC color television system (RCA-NBC), reversing their 1950 decision

which had authorized a non-compatible field-sequential system (CBS).

Radio became less secure, but grew in the number of smaller stations



Cable TV.


The first systems of CATV originally  were designed to bring nearby

signals via a highly placed antenna directly to the TV set wherever a

reception problem existed.  Although early systems of cable radio had

existed in 1923, in the 1950's growth of Cable TV began.  Because

signals were picked up out of the air from nearby transmitters

broadcaster saw little problems as cable seemed to just extend their

audiences.  In 1959 there were about 3,000 systems operating.  In

1965, CATV spread into larger cities and broadcasters began to worry as

these systems imported distant television stations from other markets

which tended to fragment their once local captive audiences.  The FCC had at

first determined that it would not (did not want to) regulate CATV but as the

broadcasters began to scream competition the FCC took over regulation

of that industry in 1965. Through its rules it effectively slowed Cable

development until the early 1970's.


At time of the 1920 KDKA election returns broadcast, probably not more than

1,000,000 radio homes; by September, 1923, the number had increased to

slightly less than 2,000,000 or about 8 percent of all homes in the

U.S. By September 1926 to appropriately 5,500,000-just about 20

percent of all homes in the United States. From 1926 through 1930,the

number of radio-equipped homes increased from a little over 5 million

to approximately 12 million, roughly 40% of U.S. population.


In 1923 through 1926 a large proportion of sets were home-made; many

sets were of "crystal" type.  "Regular" sets had from two to five

tubes; all were battery-powered; all used three-dial tuning; all used

earphones instead of loud-speakers.  No cabinets; chassis was not

enclosed; a wet battery and two dry-cell batteries required. Between

1926 and 1930, sets still battery- powered, but at very end of period some

AC sets introduced, powered from regular home electric current.  They still

had three-dial tuning.  During this period, loud speakers were introduced; by

September 1926, probably half or more of all radio homes had sets with

loud-speakers.  Most sets were enclosed in cabinets, but with speakers not

built-in; speakers were "extras," in early period "morning-glory"

type, later of a "cone" type which hung on a wall.  The average set

manufactured in 1926 cost about $125.00-speakers were extra ranging in

cost from $50.00 up to $100.00.  But, with speakers, listening to

programs, rather than DXing (for distant listening), was made

possible. By the end of the period receiving sets were selling at an

average price of $80.00.  AC power was now used for most sets-except in

rural areas where the battery was still used but with a less elaborate

set-up.  All sets were enclosed in cabinets; all had loud speakers;

practically all used single dial tuning.


The expansion in the number of radio homes continued throughout the

period; in September 1930, there were approximately 12,000,000 homes

which were equipped with receiving sets; by September 1935, even after

several years of depression, the number of radio homes had increased

to 22,000,000, or approximately two-thirds of all homes in the nation

as relatives gave their second sets to family members or sold them. Sets

were improving in quality, with better circuits than prior to 1930; the

major changes, however, was in the increasing popularity of lower-cost

table models, as opposed to "console" sets. Perhaps this change was

responsible for much of the increase in total sale of sets during the

depression years-since average cost of sets dropped from around

$120.00 in 1929 and $80.00 in 1930, to around $40.00 in 1934 and 1935.

The proportion of AC sets continued to increase; battery sets were by this

time powered usually by dry batteries, but were used only on farms or

in automobiles.  Auto sets had been introduced in 1930. By September 1935,

a total of 2,500,000 auto sets had been sold to the public. The number

of radio homes continued to increase-from approximately 22 million in

1935 to 29,500,000 by September of 1941, or roughly 87 per cent of all

homes in the United States.  Use of auto sets also increased-in

1941-more than 8,000,000 cars were radio-equipped. Table models

continued to be the most frequently-purchased type, with prices on all

home sets sold between 1935 and 1941 averaging about $40.00.  Many of

the larger sets introduced "push-button tuning" which enabled the user

to tune in a desired station simply by pushing a button.  During the period,

portable, dry-battery-powered sets were introduced, and became quite


Although virtually no radio receiving sets were produced from mid-1942

to the end of the war, the number of radio homes increased, by 1945,

to about 34,000,000-compared with a little less than 30,000,000 in

1941.  The sets used in these additional homes were primarily "second

sets" which in 1941 had been in the homes of parents or other

relatives.  By no means all of the sets in the 34,000,000 homes were

in working condition in 1945; set repair and tube replacements were

extremely difficult to obtain during the war.  The number of

radio-equipped automobiles in 1941 was down to 6,000,000 compared with

8,000,000 in 1942.


After electronics companies were able to shift from war to peacetime

production, they turned to radio set production to offset the lack of

production during the years of the war.  In 1947 alone, some

20,000,000 sets were produced, with a retail value of nearly one

billion dollars.  Many of these replaced sets used during the war;

many became "second" or "third" sets in the same home; but naturally,

large numbers were used to equip new homes. As of the autumn of 1952,

the number of radio homes had increased to 46,000,000-from 95 to 97

per cent of all American homes-and the number of radio sets in

automobiles to nearly 25,000,000.  However, the auto sets, and 80 per

cent of the homes sets, were equipped to receive AM signals only. The

number of homes with sets capable of receiving signals of FM stations

was probably not more than from 6,000,000 to 8,000,000.


The number of TV homes increased more slowly as few families were willing

to spend the $500 or more necessary to buy a television set until one or

more TV stations were in operation in their home community.  In

1948-presumably at the end of the year-there were not more than

1,000,000 TV homes; in 1949; 4,000,000; in 1950, somewhat less than

10,500,000; and in the autumn of 1952, somewhat more than 20,000,000

television homes-about 42 percent of all American homes.

Television became a mass medium in 1952, when it was found in more than

50 percent of American households. In spite of the increasingly dominant

position of television the purchase of radio sets continued heavy,

especially of portable and the newly introduced transistor sets. 

In 1954, the first mass market transistor "pocket" radio was

introduced selling at $49.95.  AM set sales in 1952 were 10 million;

1955-15 million; 1960-16 million; 1965-20 million.   Auto set sales

went from 3 million in 1952 to 10 million by 1965 for a total of 42

million auto sets in use by 1965. Estimates are that since 1957 or

1958, nearly 98 percent of all homes were radio-equipped and this has

not changed to date.


The most significant development was the resurgent growth of FM.  FM

broadcast a monaural signal through this period until stereo was approved in

1961 after a short period of experimentation.  Stereo records and

phonographs for the home had been introduced in 1958.   FM in 1957

accounted for only two percent of radio sales and increased to 15-20

percent by 1965.


The number of television homes had increased, from 64.5 percent in 1955 to

94 percent by 1965.  Color TV, introduced in 1953 and with all-color

network programming by NBC to push the RCA color sets in 1964-65,

turned the corner in the 1965-66 season. 

In 1965 some 3 million color TV sets were in-use...

As of November 1920, there were no more than 16 or 18 stations; in January 1922,

only 30 stations licensed; in January 1923, nearly 500 stations on the

air; by September 1923, approximately 520 stations. Prior to October

1, 1922, all stations used same channel-wavelength of 360 meters,

equivalent to present 833 kilocycles.  In October, 1922, not more than

half a dozen stations with as much as 50-watts power; most operated on

from 10 to 15 watts power.  By September 1923, probably five or six

stations used up to 500 watts power-while power increases were common,

most stations used less than 100 watts.


Stations throughout the 20's fell into three classes; some 15 to 20

owned by major electronics manufacturers-General Electric,

Westinghouse, Stromberg, etc.; another 12 or 15 owned by large

newspapers, department stores, insurance companies; remainder owned by

churches, schools, radio repairs concerns, and amateurs who operated

stations "just for fun." Practically all major experimentation carried

on by first type of stations-they were the "leaders" in broadcasting.


No full-time operation by any station. Studios invariably very

small-too small to accommodate audiences, or even ordinary orchestras.

Studios draped with monkscloth or burlap to prevent echo.  Carbon

microphones only-poor quality response, and pick-up limited to 12 to

18 inches.


In 1923-1926, there was no increase in number of stations-in September 1926,

still about 530 stations on the air.  But many of weaker or earlier

stations had gone off the air; and been replaced by others.  Probably

half a dozen stations had power of 5,000-watts by 1926-none as yet had

gone to 50 kw power, however, and a majority of stations operated with

only 50 to 100 watts power.  No station as yet operated for a "full"

18-hour day.  In a large number of cases, from two to four stations in

same area divided time on the same channel. In major cities, some

studios were capable of seating a studio audience of 200 to 300

people; draped walls still used near pick-up areas.  Condenser mikes

introduced before 1926; most studios still used old carbon mikes.

The most important improvement probably the introduction of faders or

volume controls and of "mixing" panels-allowing use of materials

coming from a number of different mikes to be blended into a single

sound combination.


In 1926-Herbert Hoover, the Secretary of Commerce, was told he had no authority

to control the power, amount of time on the air or frequency of stations.

The passage of the Radio Act of 1927 created a 5 man Federal Radio

Commission (FRC).  As of September 1930 approximately 600 stations were on

the air under licenses issued by the Federal Radio Commission. The FRC

insisted stations install improved equipment-which resulted in 200 to

500 pre-1927 stations being forced off the air.  FRC also required

stations to broadcast for regular periods, not on a hit or miss basis.

Still numerous part time only stations, but by summer 1930, most larger

stations broadcast a full evening schedule and 2 to 4 hours daytime.

The first 50 kw station was WGY, Schenectady in 1927.  September 1930 a total

of nine 50 kw stations.  Of the remainder, perhaps 100 used power

ranging from 500 watts to 5 kw, nearly 500 stations running 100 watts

or less. Large stations, as well as networks, usually had special

"audience" studios-a "stage," which served as the actual broadcasting

studio, and an audience "auditorium" seating from 200 to 300-but with

double-glass separating the audience from the entertainers.  During

the period, ribbon microphones generally replaced both carbon and

condenser types in general use around 1925 or 1926.  Electronic

pick-up of phonograph records, first introduced around 1926 or 1927,

was made standard equipment in practically all larger stations by the

end of the period. In connection with this new facility, at least one

concern, the World Broadcasting Company, started a transcription

library service with both library and 33 r.p.m. turntables made

available to stations on a rental basis...

There was no great increase in number of stations during the 1930's; in

September 1935, approximately 600 stations were on the air, as had

been the case in 1930.  However, in 1935, nine out of ten stations

were licensed for full-time operation, and most of these full-time

stations were on the air for from 16 to 18 hours a day. General

increases in station power also marked the period; by 1935 perhaps 30

stations were using 50-kw power. One major change took place about the

middle of this period-the "glass window" between entertainers and

audiences in the studio audience was removed, beginning on networks,

and later in most stations.  By 1935, practically every station had a

transcription or library service, and turn-tables for playing of

either 33 r.p.m. transcriptions or 78 r.p.m. phonograph records. By

September, 1941, the total number of stations in the United States had

increased to approximately 850-with about 45 using 50-kw power, and

more than 150 having power of 5-kw or 10 kw....

During the late 1930's the inventor of wide band Frequency Modulation, Major

Edwin Howard Armstrong, received a permit to erect an experimental transmitter

in the 42-50 MHz band at Alpine, NJ, from the FCC, only after threatening, in

the face of an officious FCC employee, to take his invention to Europe.


By 1939, Armstrong's experimental station, along with FM transmitters operated

by General Electric near Albany, NY, the Yankee Network with out of Boston, and

station WDRC of Hartford, CT, were on the air.


The original FM band was authorized by the FCC in 1941 to occupy 42-50 MHz,

which otherwise would have been reserved for television's channel one.


General Electric and Zenith took out licenses from Armstrong to manufacture FM

receivers and soon Stromberg-Carlson and other companies followed suit. By 1942

there were 50 FM stations the air in the United States and 500,000 receivers in

existence. All that changed when the FCC at the instigation of RCA/NBC and CBS

moved the FM out of the channel one position to the current 88-108 MHz band

with the purpose of reassigning the 43-45 MHz Channel One back to TV. That,

however, never happened and instead the old FM band was given over to emergency

services instead.


At the stroke of the pen 50 stations were uprooted and 500,000 receivers

rendered obsolete to serve the vested interests of television. RCA was pushing

the acceptance of a system that was inferior in its technical specifications

for video fidelity. The NTSC system is referred to in knowledgeable circles as

"Never The Same Color.)


When the FM band was shifted to its current frequency spectrum the FCC also

reduced the amount of power FM stations could operate thereby crippling their

ability to relay their signals to each other to avoid AT&T's expensive high

fidelity land lines This also impaired FM's ability to develop their own

independent programing to the best of high fidelity standards. The vested AM

interests were so anti FM that they, with few exceptions, never publicized the

fact that the audio portion of TV was an FM carrier.


Although the FCC later corrected restrictions on FM, to this date there is not

a full time national FM network in the United States - unlike Canada's CBC

national stereo TV network which features a series of 100 or higher kilowatt

transmitters located in major Canadian cities from coast to coast broadcasting

24 hours a day.


The number of radio stations increased by the end of 1945 to about

940-some 80 or 90 more than in 1941. The additional stations had in

practically all cases been authorized before the beginning of the war,

transmitters and equipment secured, and construction started.

Increases in operating power were few in number, due to difficulties

in securing transmitters. At the end of 1945, there were from 45 to

50 - 50,000 watt stations, and from 160 to 175 - 5,000 watt stations.


There was an increased emphasis on news during WWII which resulted in

the availability of special radio news services to stations, provided

by such news-gathering agencies as United Press and International News

Service and the Associated Press finally began to offer its services

to radio. At least half-a-dozen companies maintained transcription

library services for radio.


Following the close of World War II, the Communications Commission

took two actions which had a striking effect on the radio industry.

First, it reduced the required minimum distance between any two

stations on the same AM frequency, and at the same time, authorized

construction of daytime-only AM stations on frequencies formerly

largely reserved for use of "clear-channel" or 50,000 watt AM



Second, it opened a substantial band of frequencies for FM

or frequency-modulation broadcasting-and implied strongly that there

was a probability that within a few years, all radio broadcasting

would be shifted to FM. The result was a tremendous increase in the

number both of FM and AM stations. AM stations increased from

approximately 940 in December of 1945 to nearly 2400 in the autumn of

1952; in addition, FM stations-of which only half a dozen operated on

an experimental basis in 1945-increased to approximately 650 in the

autumn of 1952. At the same time, power increases were granted to

many AM stations-increases which had been impossible during the freeze

on equipment during the war.


During the first few years of their operation, many of the new FM

stations were programmed independently, although at least 600 of the

612 on the air by 1950 were owned by licensees of AM stations and

operated in the same markets, and even from the same studios, as their

AM "big brothers." Within a year or two, however, virtually all of

the FM stations which were connected with AM's adopted the policy of

simply duplicating-simultaneously-the programs provided by their AM

"big brothers;" their owners had not been successful in selling enough

time on the FM stations to pay operating costs, and duplication of

service cut costs. Over 212 FM's went off the air in 1949.


TV stations came into existence more slowly. At the close of World

War II, not more than six or seven TV stations had been licensed for

commercial operation. Although many broadcasters believed in the

future of television, the construction of a television station cost

from $750,000 to $l,500,000-and that was a great deal of money to

risk, when commercial television had not yet had the opportunity to

prove itself. Furthermore, at the end of the war fewer than 10,000 TV

receiving sets were in existence, and until the Communications

Commission could definitely make up its mind as to the channels to be

used for television, manufacturers did not dare to attempt to produce

sets. However, up to October of 1948, 108 TV stations-virtually all

located in larger cities- were authorized by the Commission. During

that month, the Commission declared a "freeze" on the granting of

additional licenses until it had the opportunity to consider the

requirements of color television, educational television, and the

providing of facilities for smaller cities. The "freeze" was not

lifted until April of 1952. In the next few months, a number of

additional stations were authorized, but none had as yet gone on the

air up to the end of this 1945-52 period.  So, we had exactly 108 TV

stations in operation-all of them stations occupying channels on the VHF bands,

and practically all of them located in major cities.

The number of AM stations increased from about 2400 in 1952 to over

4,000 by 1965.  FM stations went from 612 in 1952 to 1,400 in 1965

with about 200 authorized but not on the air.  Of the total FM, all

but perhaps 40 or 50 commercial FM's duplicated the programs of their

sister AM stations during most of this period.  Of the AM stations 95

to 100 operated with powers of 50,000 watts and close to 500 others

used power of 5,000 watts while the remainder were lower power or

daytime only stations.  There were approximately 650 to 700 stations

authorized to operate only during daytime hours.

In spite of this increase in the number of radio stations-or perhaps

because of it-many stations reported losing money during this period.



Television stations.  While radio was facing difficulties in the 1950's,

television was experiencing a period of rapid development in the

number of stations, in size of audience, and in annual network and

station revenues.  In April of 1952, with the freeze ending, more than

450 new stations came on the air.  In 1960 over 550 commercial

stations were operating and by 1965 over 600 stations were authorized

or operating.  In 1954 there had been two Educational TV stations and by 1965

some 88 were operating.  Of the total TV stations 95 were UHF in 1960

and over one-third of all stations-including nearly all the UHF

stations and a portion of the post-freeze VHF stations were operating

at a loss.  Most of the newer stations either came into cities as the

fourth or fifth station, without network affiliation or were located

in markets that were not as lucrative.  Especially acute was the UHF

problem.  The UHF stations had to compete with VHF stations which had

better coverage as the UHF stations are more susceptible to interference

and few receiving sets had been manufactured before 1964 with both VHF

and UHF tuning.  Of the 190 UHF stations, commercial, which went on

the air between 1952 and 1964, only half remained operating in 1965.

In the early 1920's, there were some temporary, experimental nets attempted

but no permanent nets. The first coast-to-coast network broadcast took

place in October 1924-a broadcast of a political rally from Madison Square Garden. 

During the seasons of 1924-25 and 1925-26, a "pick-up" network made up of

stations from New York to Chicago-practically all of them

electronics-manufacturing-company-owned- carried programs three or

four evenings a week-including some one-time sponsored programs.  AT&T had a

net of 12 stations for some programs but nets were still experimental

as we know them today.


The first permanent network, NBC-Red, started operations in December 1926;

and in January 1927, the second RCA network, the NBC-Blue network, put its

first programs on the air.  CBS was organized later the same year;

it inaugurated service in September 1927.  At the start, NBC-Red had 20

stations; NBC-Blue had only 5 stations; CBS had 16 stations. 

Prior to the spring of 1928, all network stations were located north of the Ohio River and east of the Missouri with coast-to-coast service inaugurated by NBC-Red in

December 1928.

Networks had become "big business" in a very literal sense with each of the

three original networks operating on a national coast-to-coast

basis, with from 80 to 120 affiliated stations each. In addition, a

fourth network- Mutual-was organized in  1934.  Its first success was

the "Lone Ranger;" and originally it consisted of only four stations, but

during 1935 from 50 to 60 additional stations were added.  However, in terms of

programs, it was not yet a serious rival to the older networks.


There were important changes in the broadcast advertising picture,

however. As a result of the depression, networks "let down the bars"

with respect to form of commercials and for the first time allowing

"direct selling" on network programs.  Stations did even more; they

began making extensive use of "per inquiry" and other "direct selling

by radio" business and they also accepted "spot announcements" as

opposed to program advertising, especially toward the end of 1935.

In 1931-CBS permitted "direct sell" announcements. Of the 850 stations, at least

700 were network affiliates and network program service had become a

prime requisite to the holding of a listening audience.

Only one major change occurred in the 1940's in the status of networks. 

As a result of the "duopoly" order of the Federal Communications

Commission, effective in 1941 which prohibited the ownership of more

than one network by a single network operating company, NBC in 1941

had to sell its "Blue Network" to a different corporation. The name of the

network was changed to the American Broadcasting Company.  A few stations

were added to affiliate lists of each of the networks during the

period.  Throughout this period, as in the 30's preceding our entrance

into the war, NBC (formerly NBC-Red) remained the leading network both

in program popularity and in income; CBS was a strong second; ABC a

weak third; Mutual an even weaker fourth.  The same four networks

continued to provide service to radio stations throughout the period-

however, with an increased number of affiliated stations.


Television networks.  Television networks came into existence almost

before any TV stations had been constructed.  By 1946 and 1947, three

of the existing radio network companies-CBS, NBC, and ABC-and one new

organization, DuMont, were busily engaged in attempting to line up

affiliates, in many cases inducing their radio affiliates to build TV

stations so that they could be affiliated with TV as well as radio

operations. As of 1952, practically all TV stations (aside from fourth

stations in the eight or nine four-TV station markets, and the fourth,

fifth, sixth and seventh stations in New York and Los Angeles, which

had seven TV stations each) had network affiliation contracts; many of

them, especially in markets with fewer than three stations, with two

or more of the networks.  However, in the competition for affiliates,

DuMont (a TV set manufacturer was at a serious disadvantage, and as

a network, never became really firmly established.  It was still attempting

limited network programming in 1951-52, but ultimately gave up the fight.  

The first year of operation of TV networks was in the season 1948-49....

By 1952, NBC and CBS were serving from 180 to 200 AM stations each;

ABC had approximately 375 affiliates; Mutual had nearly 400.  One

major shift in network status took place shortly after the war; CBS,

which for years had run second in popularity and in volume of business

to NBC, simply bought a number of NBC's most popular entertainers-in

particular, comedians-and placed their programs on the CBS schedule. 

The result was that CBS replaced NBC as the "leading" network; NBC was a

very close second; ABC still a poor third; MBS a very weak fourth.

Also, during this period, a new coast-to-coast radio network came into

being-the Liberty Broadcasting System, which started by providing

recreated baseball broadcasts to some 50 stations, later expanded its

activities until it provided a few hours-or in some cases, less than

one hour of program service daily to perhaps 300 stations.


Unfortunately, after approximately two years of operation, Liberty was

forced into bankruptcy in 1950-and in 1952, stations which had network

service-roughly 1100 of them could only receive network service from

CBS, NBC, ABC and Mutual, while some 1200 to 1300 stations, including

perhaps 500 to 600 daytime-only stations operated as independents.


In the years of the decade after 1952, the type of programming provided by radio

networks changed almost completely.  Networks lost their once-popular

evening entertainment programs; most had disappeared by 1955-56.

Daytime programs lasted a few years longer and the last soap operas

went off the radio air-waves in 1960.  One network innovation that proved

moderately successful was NBC's Monitor which ceased in 1975.  By

1960, networks on radio were no longer paying their affiliates

anything for carrying their programs.  They allowed the stations to

carry the program for the right to sell commercial time within the

programs.  The major emphasis was news.  In 1959 the "payola"

scandal hit radio in which it was revealed that bribes to play certain

records were paid to the disc jockeys who had become the staple of radio. 

In that same year the Quiz scandals hit TV.


Television networks.  The fourth TV network, DuMont, faded away about

1954-55 as very few cities had more than three VHF TV stations.  The

result was that NBC and CBS captured the most desirable stations

(lower channel numbers), leaving ABC with few primary affiliates

except in three-station markets.  This put ABC at a competitive

disadvantage.  In 1953, the position of ABC improved when the company

merged for a short time with United Paramount Theaters.

Commercial operations.


The first sponsored program to be broadcast was by the AT&T station WEAF in New

York in October 1922 (which was later sold to RCA to become WNBC and which is

now WFAN). The telephone company, as part of the RCA patent pool just extended

the concept of "pay phones" to "pay radio." This was an exception; probably up

to September 1923, not more than half-a-dozen sponsored programs had been

broadcast, by all stations combined-and all on a "one-time" basis. Radio was

non-commercial and talent wasn't paid; even "regular" announcers worked

without pay on most stations.


Several large city stations-principally those owned by electronics equipment

manufacturers, by newspapers, by department stores, or insurance companies

began selling time to advertisers by the winter of 1925-26, but even the larger

stations had sponsors for no more than 8 to 10 programs combined with income of

not more than  $300,000 to $400,000 for the year ending September 1926.  There

were  some participating spot announcements in programs.  But there were no

"chain breaks"; no "sell" commercials.


Then the commercial rush began. Total revenues from sale of time to advertisers

from September 1926 to September 1930 were more than $60,000,000-with

$48,000,000 going to the networks, but only $12,000,000 representing

local advertising.  During 1930, network time sales were more than


Advertising was "institutional"- networks permitted no "selling" commercials,

but merely courtesy announcements identifying sponsors of programs.  It sounded

much like present day PBS. Both network and local advertising was on a

"program" basis with the sponsor supplying the concept, talent, and paying

for the time on the station. Spot announcements had not yet been developed

(spot announcements as "sell" announcements), nor were advertisements

inserted at chain breaks.

In spite of the depression, advertising revenues rose tremendously-for

1930-35, they totalled approximately $330,000,000, with

$195,000,000 going to networks and $135,000,000 representing

advertising placed directly with stations.  In every year but one

during the period, revenues were higher than during the preceding

season. In the last half of the decade, advertising revenues for radio

were more than twice as great as during the first half of the decade;

from September 1935 to August, 1942, total revenues of networks and

stations were more than $770,000,000-with network revenues making up

$375,000,000, or about 50 percent of the total.  However, this was the first

period in which network advertising revenues had been less than 60%

of the total received.  The difference was a direct result of

the heavily increased use of local spot announcement advertising on

stations; in the year ending September, 1941, network revenues

totalled about $75,00,000; local advertising about $48,000,000; and

advertising placed directly with stations by national advertisers

totalled about $41,000,000-whereas up to 1935, national non-network

advertising was of almost no importance.

In spite of the war, or in some degree because of it, advertising

revenues increased tremendously during the war period-to a total of

$310,000,000 in 1945, as compared with $180,000,000 in 1941.  Of this

1945 total, network revenues accounted for $134,000,000; national spot

for $76,000,000 and local advertising for $100,000,000.  One factor

which had a great effect was the enactment by Congress of a law

imposing a 90 percent tax on excess profits, especially of war

industries. As a result, a company whose income was subject to the tax

could in effect buy advertising at a net cost of 10 cents on the

dollar.  Even industries engaged entirely in war production, with no

goods to sell to the consumer, advertised heavily to retain their

competitive position when the war came to an end, and they again would

need the good will of consumers and they were certainly encouraged to

continue their advertising efforts by the excess profits tax.


After the war the volume of radio advertising continued to increase,

in spite of the emergence of television.  For the calendar

year 1952, radio time sales totalled $473,000,000, with $110,000,000

going to networks (a decrease from the all-time radio network high of

$141,000,000 from local advertising.  However, this total was split up

among more than three times the number of stations (FM included) which

went into operation at the end of World War II; the great majority of

the new AM stations and virtually all of the FM stations operated at a

loss.  And as noted above, the trend toward reduced radio network

earnings was already strongly evident; national advertisers were

shifting their expenditures from network radio to network television.


Television revenues from the sale of time had increased rapidly in the

hardly- more-than-four years of TV operation from 1948.  In 1949, total TV

revenues were only $27,500,000; in 1950, $91,000,000; in 1951,

$209,000,000; and for the year 1952, $283,000,000, with $138,000,000

of the 1952 total going to networks (a larger amount than was received

by radio networks), $80,000,000 coming to stations from national spot

advertising, and $65,000,000 coming to stations from national spot

advertising, and $65,000,000 representing local advertising.  Although

the increase in TV advertising was at a sensational rate, TV networks

and stations alike operated at a heavy loss during the early years; by

1952, probably not more than half of all TV stations were earning a


Total industry revenues increased steadily so that by the mid-1960's

total revenues from the sale of radio time amounted to more than $800

million-almost doubling the 1950 figures.  These growth figures,

however, concealed some internal problems that spelled trouble for

many in radio.  Radio was hurt by televisions growth as audience size

decreased.  National advertisers shifted their advertising budgets to

television and as the attractive programs disappeared from radio the

audience decreased further.  Local revenues for radio looked brighter

as these advertising expenditures almost tripled between 1948 and

1965. However, there was a marked increase in the number of

stations which had to be financed by these revenues, and a lack of

balance in distribution of this money created serious financial

problems for more than half of the radio stations on the air between

1958 and 1965.


Nearly all the TV stations that had gone on the air before 1952

showed consistently higher earnings than the other stations which

came on-air later as they generally occupied the choice, large market


Before 1923, in the present-day sense, there were no "programs"-no formal

opening or closing, no exact or even approximate timing, no paid

talent, no regular week-after-week scheduling.  All programs were

broadcast as one-timers and the idea of a program series hadn't yet been

developed.  Materials broadcast from studios were limited to talks, light

music-usually vocals by soloist, or at most by trio or quartette.

Practically no recorded music as direct electronic pickup not yet developed.

There was extensive use of "remotes" by large stations-pickups of orchestras

from hotels, dance halls; of band concerts; or even symphony

orchestras, operas, plays from stages-all as stunts. Occasionally

"play-by-play" broadcasts of sports events from baseball and football

to polo or boxing.  Only broadcasts at regular intervals were of weather

forecasts; news broadcasting had not yet developed. No station was on the air

more than four or five hours a day-even that not on a regular

schedule, starting at same time each day or each evening. Usually, not

more than one hour a day of daytime broadcasting by any station-and a

majority of stations weren't even on the air regularly, every day of the

week. Programs were strictly amateur-except for "stunt" pickups of music



Starting in 1923, there was a major advance in the program field.

While most stations still had "formless" programs, presented by

amateurs, as before 1923, during the 1923-26 period, larger stations

had developed definite program forms. Programs on these stations ran

for periods of 30 to 60 minutes; had definite openings and closings;

made extensive use of announcer-narrators; were built around program

ideas. Program types in general use included well-developed musical

variety shows built around specialty orchestras; concert music, almost

identical in form to radio concert music of today; and talks.  One or

two stations experimented with broadcasting one or two-act stage plays

from studios but without adapting the scripts for radio.  A number of

stations presented an early type of variety show-usually for an hour

or two full hours, once a week, around midnight-using vaudeville acts

currently in town, a studio orchestra and depending heavily on work by a

station MC and all on an "ad lib" basis.


Between 1926-30, sponsored network programs were at least 30 minutes

in length; half at least of all evening sponsored programs were

full-hour broadcasts.  The most popular network program forms were musical

variety-nearly always by "speciality" orchestral groups-and concert

music.  An early type of variety program was carried on networks from

their beginnings-variety in the sense of "using a different type of

material each week"-one week a musical program, another week a debate,

a third week a dramatization, and so on. Dramatic programs, using

materials adapted for radio from short stories or sometimes original

materials, appeared as early as 1927 and dramatic forms included hour-long

"prestige" drama, 30-minute "thrillers," both 30-minute and 15-minute

"light" or "homey" drama, and 30-minute informative data-mostly



At least two or three minstrel-show types of variety programs were

carried on network schedules during the period; around 1929, an early

form of "comedy variety" appeared, consisting of a series of four or

five comedy "single" acts in an half-hour period.


Very popular throughout the period, both on networks and locally, were

"song- and-patter teams"-two person "acts" appearing for either 15 or

30 minutes, with "patter" used extensively between songs.  Late in the

period, "patter-only" comedy acts appeared. One of the earliest was the

Amos 'n' Andy combination, which presented "patter" on a

five-evenings-a-week basis for a 15-minute period.  Use of a "story

line" by Amos 'n' Andy did not come until the fall of 1930.   However,

some use was made of the comedy dramatic form during the 1929-1930

season-but no program of that type survived beyond that season.


Networks also offered once-a-week news broadcasts which always featured

news from Washington; quite a number of talk programs, chiefly in the

daytime; Sunday afternoon religious programs; several programs of

light music, and some of the more popular of which featured organists.


Local programing was far behind that on networks.  Most important

local features were the hour-long types of variety programs developed

before 1926, programs presenting song-and-patter teams, programs of

light music presented by local amateur vocalists or pianists, and, of

course, talks.  A very few stations offered a limited amount of

recorded music, late in the period.

The period 1930 to 1935 saw the development of more new program forms

than any other 5-year period in radio history.  The reason probably is the

strong competition existing between networks and network program

sponsors-and national advertisers' willingness to pour large sums into

network programs. Among new forms introduced on networks, or program

forms taking new "slants" during the period were:


    Comedy variety-programs built around a "featured" comedian;

    Straight variety-of vaudeville type;

    Hillbilly variety-of National Barn Dance type;

    Human interest programs-of "interview and advice" type;

    Amateur contest variety-popularized by Major Bowes;

    Public affairs forum programs-of "Town Meeting" or round-table types;

    5-time-a-week 15-minute network news programs;

    Dramatized news-of "March of Time" type;

    Women's daytime serial drama; and

    Late afternoon "kid" adventure "thriller" dramas in serial form.


In addition, the 15-minute comedy-drama serial inaugurated by Amos

'n' Andy was much more extensively used; numbers of prestige drama and use

of "homey" drama were similarly expanded.


The introduction of daytime serials produced, for the first time, the

practice of 5-day-a-week daytime "across-the-board" programming.

Prior to 1932, when daytime serials were first scheduled, daytime

programming had been scheduled like that in evening hours, on a

one-time-a-week basis-with 30-minute programs much more frequently

used than programs of 15-minute length.


Local station programming was more directly influenced by the depression.

During this period, a large proportion of stations, to survive,

scheduled daily local programs featuring astrologers. Many

stations-most of these not of the "top flight" engaged

extensively in direct selling, which in turn brought about wide-spread

use of hillbilly shows.  Commercial religious programs were also

introduced on local stations during the period.  All three types

mentioned made extensive use of invitations or appeals to listeners to send

money to the station "to keep this show on the air" with part of the receipts

going to the program's sponsor, part to the station to pay for the air-time.


Some development was made of local news programs during the period, but

few stations gave more than a single 15-minute news broadcast per day,

or perhaps two or three 5-minute news programs.   Most news presented

was "lifted" from stories appearing in local daily newspapers.  The

period also saw some expansion of programs of recorded or transcribed

music, but most of the locally presented music was still of the "live"

type, though using professionals in place of the amateurs of the



Some new program forms were developed during the last half of the

decade, though the number of new forms was considerably less than in

the early half of the "thirties."  New forms appearing on networks



    News commentary programs-important because of the threat of war;

    Quiz programs with audience participants-introduced in 1936;

    Panel quiz programs-with "experts" serving on the panel;

    "Crime-does-not-pay" "thriller" dramatic programs;

    Telephone give-away programs-first used in 1939, and only one program of

     the type appearing in the period; and

    Comedy participation programs-of the "Truth or Consequences" type.


Networks greatly increased their offerings of news programs during the at the

end of the decade although few of the programs had sponsors.  Most of the successful

individual programs of 1935, and practically all of the "name" radio

personalities of 1935, were still on the air and still successful during

the winter of 1940-41.


Local programming showed more change.  News programs were greatly

increased; by the summer of 1941 nearly every station had at least

four or five local news programs a day.  Astrologers had disappeared as a

result of government pressure; "live" programs of light music, and

"live" hillbilly programs were much less widely used than in

1935-their places being taken by an expansion in the use of platter

music.  Most stations also scheduled at least one "man-on- the-street"

remote interview program a day.

In the 1940's programs, both on networks and locally originated, naturally

reflected the war.  Throughout the entire war period, there was strong

emphasis on news and human interest programs used men or women in armed

services as participants.  With many sponsors having nothing to sell

to consumers, there was a greater use of institutional commercial

announcements than in either the pre-war or the post-war periods.

As might be expected, when the war ended and TV began to

grow, the types of programs provided by radio were greatly affected by

the new economic conditions.


Radio network programming.  Several changes occurred in the

programming provided by radio networks.  Evening variety programs

decreased; evening musical programs decreased even more significantly,

as did evening quiz and audience participation programs.  News

programs and evening talk programs held at about the same level.  Use

of evening dramatic programs increased strongly over 1944-45; in

1951-52, networks offered 47 hours a week of dramatic programs during

evening hours and on Sundays, compared with about 31 hours per week in

1951-52-and no less than 25 hours each week consisted of "thriller"

drama programs.


During the daytime, there was a striking increase in low-cost

variety and in quiz and audience participation-combined. These types

accounted for 59 hours of daytime programming each week,

compared with 23 hours in 1944- 45.  Daytime serials decreased

slightly, to 44 hours per week; other daytime dramatic programs to 14

hours per week, as compared with 24 hours in 1944-45. During the

period, incidentally, the daytime adventure serial for children had

been almost completely replaced by 30-minute adventure drama, each

program in a series built around a single "hero," but with each

30-minute episode a compete story.


Note that after the war, magnetic recorders were introduced and

networks for the first time permitted the use of recorded material and

even music-as in 1951-52, networks scheduled 1 1/2 hours of

platter music programs at night, and an additional 7 1/2 hours each

week during daytime hours.  But the really important change was in the

sponsorship of network programs.  Whereas in 1944-45, at least 90 per

cent of all radio network programs were sponsored, by 1951-52 not more

than 45 to 50 percent of all evening network hours and a still smaller

proportion of daytime hours had national sponsors.  Possibly 8 to 10

percent of all network programs were "co-ops"-that is, fed to

affiliated stations for local sponsorship; at least 40 percent were

broadcast on a sustaining (free) basis.


     New radio network program types.

          Platter music-(47048) Martin Block Show, Paul  Whiteman Record Program.

          Television quiz-(48-49) Stop the Music

          Low-key detective programs-(49-50) Dragnet


Local radio programs.  Local programming was strongly influenced by

three factors.  First, the tremendous increase in the number of new

stations coming on the air after the war left more than 1200 stations

(as of 1952) without network service.  Second, the drastic decrease in

the quantity of sponsored network programming left stations that were

affiliated with networks with far more hours of program time to fill locally. 

And third, increased competition among stations, and the much

reduced per-station revenues, forced stations to look for low-cost

program forms.  The lowest-cost form available was that of platter

programs; as a result, aside from the retention of news broadcasts and

of a few talk programs, virtually all local programming was of the

platter music type-at least by 1951-52.


One additional comment concerning local radio is in order.  The great

success of the network telephone quiz show, "Stop the Music" in

1948-49, resulted in rash of local telephone quiz programs, just as

the success of the network- originated "Major Bowes Amateur Hour" in

1935 produced a flood of locally produced amateur contest programs.

Most of the local telephone quiz shows had disappeared before 1951-52.


Network programming.  No new network program forms appeared during the

war period.  However, there were some changes in the amount of use of

certain program forms.  News an commentary programs were, of course,

extremely popular during the early stages of the war-particular

emphasis was placed on commentary, and probably fewer than half of all

news programs were "straight news," rather than commentary.  The total

number of news programs-or at least, of hours per week devoted to news

broadcasts during evening and Sunday hours- on networks was nearly

twice as great as 1944-1945 as in 1940-41-21 hours a week, compared

with a little more than 11 hours a week.  However, by the season of

1943-44, a certain amount of war-weariness, and an evident desire for

escape, produced increased listenership to escape-type programs-comedy

variety, comedy drama, and "thriller" drama; and all programs in these

classifications had higher ratings than in the prewar period, and the

amount of time given to these three forms increased in proportion.

During the winter of 1944-45, networks scheduled 8 hours of comedy

variety programs, 8 hours of comedy drama programs, and 14 hours of

"thriller"  drama each week-the corresponding number of hours for

three types in 1940-41 were 4 1/2 and 8 respectively.  Another form

showing increased use during the war period was informative drama;

there were no evening programs of this type on networks in 1940-41,

but nearly 5 hours of such programs per week in 1944-45.  Total time

devoted to all evening variety forms (including comedy) in 1944-45 was

approximately 18 hours per week-virtually the same as in 1940-1941; to

musical programs, 34 hours per week (compared with 32 hours in

1940-41); to all types of dramatic programs in 1944-45, roughly 32

hours per week (24+ hours in 1940- 41).  There was a decrease in the

use of both audience participation programs and talks other than news;

in 1944-45, quiz and human interest programs totalled only slightly

over 19 hours per week, as compared with 15 hours in 1940-41, and in

the final year of the war, talk programs other than news used only 14

evening hours each week, compared with 15 hours in 1940-41.


Probably two facts are entitled to special mention.  War industries

buying evening network time were interested in "prestige"

programs, since with no products to sell the ratings were on secondary importance.

However, with the excess profits tax you could put on classy programs and

have famous people to lunch with and impress your friends at your parties. 

So, more symphony orchestras were presented on a sponsored basis than at

any other time in network history; similarly, many war industries presented

informative dramatic programs-in some cases, virtually

documentaries, dealing with the contribution of various military

services to the "war effort."  The other relates to a decrease in quiz

and other types of human interest programs-a decrease which took place, to

some degree because of government request to keep unscripted, unknown people

off the air, since at the same time, daytime use of such

programs had increased substantially, and virtually all types of

audience-participation made use of men from the armed services.


This leads us logically to daytime network programming.  Here, as

during evening hours, the time devoted to news programs increased 13

hours a week in 1944-45, as compared with 5 hours in 1940-41.  There

was a similar increase in daytime use of non-thriller and non-serial

daytime dramatic forms; in 1944-45 these programs totalled 14 hours a

week (more than 4 hours of which was used for informative drama) as

compared with only 1 hour each week in 1940-41.  A similar increase

was evident in daytime quiz and human interest programs-the latter in

particular, from only 1 hour a week in 1940-41 to 11 hours a week in

1944-45.  Daytime network use of variety programs (12 hours a week)

and of daytime musical programs (18 hours per week) remained virtually

unchanged from the 1940-41 level.  But major reductions were

registered in non-news talk programs-13 hours per week in 1944-45,

compared with 23 hours in 1940-41-and especially in time devoted to

daytime serial drama-49 hours each week in 1944- 1945, compared with

no less than 75 hours in 1940-41.  Daytime serials and daytime

informative programs had undoubtedly passed their peak of popularity,

and were on the decline.


Local programming.  Aside from greater emphasis on materials related

to the war, there was little change in local programming during the

period.  Some stations-by no means the majority-added commentators to

their news staffs, and attempted to rival the networks in providing

news commentary programs.  Many stations arranged for the presentation

of recorded interviews with men in military service who came from

communities served by stations.  Possibly from one-third to one-half

of all stations made use of some sort of local human interest

programs-interviews, in some cases quiz, in others, audience

participation.  These were virtually the only changes made in the

line-up of locally produced programs during the war period.


Television programs.  When television first got under way in a serious

manner, in 1948, revenues were low, production costs high.  So a

primary consideration was the discovery of low-cost programs.

Networks and stations alike experimented with the use of platter

music-direct disc-jockey programs chiefly, but in some instances,

pantomime by "live" entertainers or audience participation through

dancing to music played on records.  Programs of live "light" music

were widely used.  Old motion picture films-Westerns in

particular-were projected on TV screens.  And pickups of sports, in

particular, wrestling and roller derbies came into prominence.  In the

field of children's programs, puppet shows were presented by

practically all stations, as well as on networks.


Network TV programs.  Program forms used on networks were almost

without exception those previously existing on network radio-in fact,

many programs were moved bodily from radio to TV, or were retained on

radio, with their counterparts broadcast on TV networks.  During the

first year or two of network TV operation, a very high proportion of

evening time was used for broadcasts of sports events but two variety

programs stood out:  the Milton Berle program, 60 minutes in length

and with a production budget of $8,000 a week, and the Ed Sullivan

Show, of equal length and costing only $5,000 a week.  Success of

these programs in particular brought a great expansion in vaudeville

variety programs; in 1950-51, no less than 29 evening variety programs

were carried on TV networks.  Unfortunately, the supply of available

"acts" ran out; in 1951-52, the number of variety programs was cut

almost in half.  "Thriller" drama programs caught on quickly; although

in 1948-49 only two were included in network schedules, there were 15

on the air in 1949-50, 22 in 1951, and 33 in 1951-52.  Daytime network

programs followed the pattern set by radio; in 1951-52, about 60

percent of all daytime programming consisted of low-cost variety

programs.  During evening hours, in 1951-52, 36 hours a week were

devoted to dramatic programs-more than one-third of the 30- minute

variety on film; 15 hours to variety; 10 hours to music; 14 hours to

quiz and audience participation; 12 hours to news, forum and

informative talks, and 15 hours to children's programs, sports

broadcasts and miscellaneous forms.  In other words, distribution of

program types in 1951-52 greatly resembled the distribution used on

radio networks a few years earlier, and had already taken on most of

the forms in use today.


New TV network program types:

    Ad lib courtroom dramas or reenactments-(48-49) The Black Robe

    Children's puppet programs-(48-49) Kukla, Fran & Ollie;

    Howdy Doody;

    Televised sports events-(48-49) Boxing, wrestling, roller derby, etc.

    Western-silent-films with narrator-(48-49) Hitching Post

    Theatrical feature films-(50-51) Hollywood Premier Theatre

    Actuality demonstration-(50-51) Zoo Parade

    Pantomime-to-records-(51-52) Paul Dixon


Local TV programs.  During the years preceding 1950, most TV stations

limited their broadcasting operations to evening hours; those which

were on the air during the daytime normally went on the air around

noon, or later.  As noted earlier, most stations experimented with

various types of platter music-with little success, incidentally;

daytime programs invariably included some sort of cooking-and-recipe

program broadcast daily, and most stations presented an hour or more a

day of audience-participation programs, either during daytime hours or

at night.  Of course, practically all stations presented at least one

local news broadcast every day; and nearly all had weather programs

and sports news broadcasts.  But in addition, most stations-at least

by the end of the period-were making extensive use of syndicated

filmed programs.  A number of syndicated filmed-for-television

series-mostly Westerns-were available, and during 1950, a fairly large

number of theatrical feature films were released for syndication so by

the winter of 1951-52, probably 300 or more such features had been

released and were being included in station schedules.

Network radio programming was on its way out. By 1960, almost the only

conventional programs remaining were ABC's Breakfast Club, the Arthur

Godfrey show on CBS and the news programs on the hour-five minutes in

length.  The Breakfast Club went off the air in 1968 and Arthur Godfrey's

show bit the dust in 1972.

Local radio programming.  In the early 50's independent radio stations, or

those who only used their network for on-the-hour news briefs, ran what

was termed "block programming." This usually consisted of lively "wake up music"

in the AM, or country & western for the early-rising farmers and rural

folks. Then mid-morning "pop" music or women's features.

Around noon a news show and an hour of male oriented programming might be run.

The latest hits for teens came on around 3 P.M. when school let out.

Then, a block of dinner music around 5 or 6 P.M.

Depending on how late the station was on, big band or jazz or R&B might fill

the evening. On weekends especially, there were some stations that used transcribed

drama and comedy shows (the Ziv Co. produced a lot of these) or appeals to

the teenage audience with music and request shows. Of course church services ran on Sunday.

Ad Hoc independent networks fed baseball from time to time. Occasionally a "local live"

show might be done from the local studio, a local band, church group etc.

As radio networks programmed less and less, most stations had

the block format before going to "top forty" or "let's sound the same

all day" type formats.

Also D.J's in those days pulled their own music and made up their own shows.

As the music lists or "must play" lists were just beginning in the 1950's

stations began to switch to just one type of music as the increasing number

of stations going on the air found that playing records was the lowest cost

programming they could afford.  By the late 1950's, probably some 80 to 90

percent of all radio stations were filling most of their program time with

recorded music. Most stations played nothing but currently popular music-

the Top-40 records of the week; others made heavy use of standards

which had been popular in earlier years; still others featured country and western music. 

Some large-market stations used highly paid "personalities" as disc jockeys and included almost

as much "chatter" as actual music in each program; others permitted only a limited amount of talk.

Many of the Top-40 stations tried to be different and attract listener attention by using a variety

of "gimmicks;" special sounds effects, singing station I. D. jingles, giveaways, "record hops", and contests.


After 1957 or 1958 the trend away from the dominance of Top-40 became

evident. Specialization became more sought after as the elusive radio

audience was wooed. "Good music," "Country and Western Pop,"

"Negro-appeal," "All- request," "Sports," and in April of 1965, a NYC

station became "all news."  Still others developed into "all-talk" and

some stations experimented with bringing back old radio drama.

Finally, specialization reached what seemed an all-time high when in

December of 1965, an "All-classified ad" station was authorized for

San Francisco.  It died shortly thereafter.  The early 1960's for

local radio programming was a period of development and



Television Network programming.  No entirely new program forms

appeared on television during this period, although some modifications

that had not previously appeared on network radio.  One was the

talk-variety form, which combined rather lengthy interviews or talk

features with variety materials; it was introduced in 1952 and was

first used on NBC's Today and Tonight shows. Others were live-actually

broadcasts and filmed documentaries carried on a series basis;  NBC's

Sunday afternoon Wide, Wide World program, introduced in 1955, and the

CBS Twentieth Century, which appeared in 1957 were the earliest of

these types.  In addition, the "adult western" (a western with more

characterization and human problems than adventure) was first

introduced in 1955.


As might be expected, many important changes took place in the use of

programs of different types on network schedules.  Nondramatic

children's programs, sports broadcasts, and sponsored talk programs

disappeared entirely from the evening schedules; anthology drama was

largely replaced by dramatic programs that used the same leading

characters.  Crime-detective and adult westerns reached a high point

around 1960; and then reduced greatly in number.  Major gains after

1960 were registered by general drama, variety programs, talk-

variety-and motion picture feature films.  Time devoted to news

increased, with two of the networks expanding their early evening news

to 30 minutes. Quiz shows, panel shows, and audience-participation

programs showed a consistent drop in evening use in 1955, although

they continued as popular features for daytime audiences.


There was a trend to longer program forms as there was a decline in

sponsorship of programs by a single advertiser as had happened in

network radio.  A second major trend after 1952 was the increasing use

of programs produced on film, as compared with live presentations.

The introduction of the black and white video tape recorder by Ampex

(Bing Crosby Enterprises) in 1956, and the color VTR in 1957 had its

greatest initial effect upon news programming.


Four other features of network programming were the rise and fall of

the "big- money" quiz programs between 1955 and 1958.  A second

feature was the increased use of special programs from 1954 on.  After

1957 most networks dropped this form except for NBC which found it

needed such material to compete with an up and coming ABC.

Documentary programs grew after the quiz scandals, but since 1962 the

trend has been not to schedule them on a regular basis.  There was a

tremendous increase in the broadcasting of sports events on Saturday

and Sunday afternoons.  Boxing and wrestling dropped out of sight but

major league baseball, football, and basketball, along with bowling,

golf, and racing increased dramatically.


Local television programming.  The types of programming on individual

stations reflect the changes in availability of network and syndicated

material.  In the early 1950's, the networks offered their affiliates

a responsibly full schedule of night prime-time shows, but little

daytime material.   By the middle 1960's, however, network offerings

had increased during daytime; on weekdays during 1962063, NBC was

doing 13 hours of sponsored daytime programs a day total; CBS 12 and

ABC 9 hours.  The syndicated programs increased in the 1950's and

showed a decrease in the 1960's.  In 1953 stains were on the air for

an average of 80 hours a week, and 49 percent of this time was filled

by the network.  In 1965, total hours were averaging 119 and the

percentage of network filled time had jumped to 64.  Syndicated and

feature film programs remained constant at 16 percent.  More than 21

percent of programming of network affiliates was live in 1953.  Local

television was varied and vital in 1965-66 while a large number of

stations still had to face the expensive transition from black and

white equipment to color equipment as the sale of color sets increased

and networks went to all color.

The University of Memphis
Memphis, Tennessee 38152
Marvin R. Bensman, J.D., Ph.D.
Founder and Director





























Free Old time Radio Shows Click on the Links below to listen for free online