Monday, April 20, 2009

KDKA – The First Radio Station

Many people believe that radio broadcasting first started when KDKA did its historic first broadcast in 1920. Even though not that many people heard that historic event the public went crazy for radio and a new mass market was created. Everyone wanted a radio and by 1930 over 60% of all American households had them. The radio became an entertainment source for all family members to sit around and listen to.

As the number of radios increased so did the number of radio stations. KDKA was not the first operating station but it set the bar by which all other stations would have to meet. In 1922 there were over 600 radio stations operating in the United States, providing entertainment to the masses. After a while stations started to specialize in the type of radio broadcasting content that they would provide. KYW, in Chicago, specialized in providing opera six days a week. This content was met with overwhelming popularity by the people in that area. This lead to all the other broadcasting content we see today such as sports, weather reports, political commentary and market updates to say the least.

The reinvention of radio didn’t happen overnight; after KDKA’s debut in November 1920, it took another year before broadcasting took off.”

The stations fostered a sense on community among its listeners who were of different ethnic backgrounds, which brought a clash of old and new world ideas. As more and more stations began to broadcast a fight for the air waves ensued. Many programs overlapped and listeners would be disrupted leading to confusion. At first the government did not want to regulate the radio waves but the public demanded that they do. The government started slowly in 1926 by first setting up The Federal Radio Commission, followed in 1927 by the Radio Act of 1927 which divided the country into five zones each having equal amounts of licenses, time of operation, station power, and wavelength sections. This act also was the forerunner of the equal time rule whish ordered that stations give equal time to political candidates


At 10:33 PM, Blogger A. Mattson said...

A good post. KDKA was the first commercial station. Other stations had "broadcast" previously but KDKA marked the beginning of a new business model for radio. Many broadcasters also requested that the government start regulating radio. Why would they seek government intervention?


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