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1920: First Commercial Radio Station KDKA

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Innovation: First Commercial Radio Station KDKA, mass communication
Location: Pittsburg, Pennsylvania
Year: 1920
By: Westinghouse Electric Corporation

The first commercial radio station KDKA made its debut on November 2, 1920 when it aired the presidential election that year. Previously, voice radio was “the purview of engineers and hobbyists called hams” [3], and was used purely for amusement since it was more of a telephone mechanism (communication between two people). After technological advancements made in WWI, radio companies could sell and build ready-made machines. Westinghouse wanted to build a broadcast station at their plant to increase sales of receivers and promote good publicity, and brought Frank Conrad (an engineer) onto their project since he was familiar with the equipment. Thus, modern radio broadcasting was born, and the “Golden Age of Radio” began. Conrad built a 100-watt transmitter for air programming from Westinghouse, which involved knowledge of wiring and circuitry. The first advertisement launched on a radio station was in 1922, and it was for a real estate developer in New York City. The radio was now a way to advertise, obtain news quickly (no waiting for newspapers), hear the same songs across the country, and listen to guest speakers/heroes. The entry of mass communication led way to mass culture development [3].

Articles: [1] [2] [3]


Written by Michelle Gilhousen

November 2, 1920 at 5:42 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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